Will we have a farm?

My fam­i­ly and I have spent a beau­ti­ful week­end on a work­ing “vaca­tion farm” in rur­al New York. Grow­ing up as I did in a almost-entire­ly agri­cul­tur­al region, the idea that city dwellers would pay good mon­ey to dri­ve sev­er­al hours out of the urban bus­tle so they can wake up ear­ly and feed some chick­ens is more than a lit­tle bizarre to me on the face of it. But, at the same time, I do kind of get it, too. I under­stand the invig­o­rat­ing appeal of the farm rou­tine, the close­ness to the land and the cycle of life, the seem­ing sim­plic­i­ty of it all. Hav­ing been a city-dweller myself now for near­ly half my life, I trea­sure great­ly the years of my youth, and I pray every day that I can some­how find a way to give my own fam­i­ly a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion before too many more years are flown.

But such an idyl­lic goal is not with­out min­gled trep­i­da­tion. I have a uni­form­ly poor track record so far with any­thing resem­bling adult respon­si­bil­i­ty, so I present a pret­ty shady prospect as a landown­er and ani­mal-ten­der. My wife has long shared this dream with me, and now she, too, won­ders anew how fea­si­ble it might real­ly be—whether we might not be aim­ing for more than we can handle—and that maybe the small town life might be close enough to the coun­try to sat­is­fy us: the social safe­ty of neigh­bors and pedes­tri­an acces­si­bil­i­ty to ameni­ties and com­merce instead of the pos­si­bly-risky bucol­ic soli­tude of our our home­stead. And we are speak­ing of safe­ty not from rov­ing bands of post-apoc­a­lyp­tic maraud­ers, but from our­selves, from the trou­bles that iso­la­tion can bring if embraced in quan­ti­ties too great to be han­dled. That, I think, is what we both most fear.

Is that suf­fi­cient rea­son to give up on milk­ing our own goats every morn­ing, send­ing the boys out to hunt for chick­en eggs, watch­ing the sun set over our pota­to patch? I don’t know. Our men­tal and emo­tion­al health, the integri­ty of our phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al lives, the respon­si­bil­i­ty of eco­nom­ic realities—these are big things to have to weigh. The months and years ahead shall be very inter­est­ing for us…

1 Comment

  1. I think pret­ty much any­one who grew up on a farm and moved away looks back with long­ing on the days of their youth. I’m one of those too. I hope you find your farm, so your kids will know what it was like for you. If not, maybe New Ulm’s zon­ing laws will allow you to keep a few chick­ens in your back­yard?

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