One of the many reasons which kept me from writing over the past few years, especially with regards to the blog, was because I bought a hobby farm.
Since before we had gotten married, my wife and I had long discussed the idea of having a farm. For myself, some of my earliest memories were of me dreaming about being a farmer. My grandfather was a farmer, meaning my dad also grew up on a farm, and that family history, plus my own interest in the concept of being self-sufficient and working the land and returning to some of the roots of existence all tugged at me throughout my life to want to be a farmer. I’ll also admit that the Chevy Chase film Funny Farm always held a special place in my heart, even though he didn’t find much success as a writer or a farmer and overall the whole thing ended in disaster.
But that’s all besides the point. Regardless of the reasons, my wife and I had long wanted a farm, and a little over 4 years ago, we finally achieved that dream. And for two years we had this amazing twelve acres of paradise hiding out in a valley in the middle of corn and soy fields where we could spend our nights outside watching the stars twinkle in the night sky as we listened to the cows mooing on the other side of the hill.
We had the freedom to do pretty much anything we wanted out there. We had upwards of a hundred birds, between ducks, chickens, turkeys, and guinea fowl. And I had my 4-wheeler which I would use to run our German short-haired pointer so he could get his energy out. That puppy could keep up with me for up to at least 20 mph. We had countless parties to watch movies under the stars while my wife made pizza in her wood-burning pizza oven. The babbling creek which ran through the property was overrun by weeds, but I had made it my primary focus to try to dig it out to create a swimming hole and to do some trout fishing.
Farm life was so different than anything I knew from my lifetime of living in the city. People from the surrounding areas, whose houses were the closest ones around, but were still miles away, would show up on our driveway and invite us over to their house at the same time as introducing themselves. We were offered countless free livestock from everyone. Even though we were outsiders to this very close knit community, almost every interaction felt as though we were considered a part of a really really old and close family. This was in comparison to the neighborhood we had come from where there were people two doors down from us whom we never even saw, much less met.
I loved it on the farm, and honestly, if it were just me, I probably would have never left.
But the reality is: my kids struggled to fit in at the school, we were isolated from everyone we knew by a thirty minute drive, which got exceptionally worse during the winters when we had to deal with the snow on our half-mile long driveway, the work in running a farm altogether was exhausting, as both my wife and I still had our full time jobs while we were trying to get the farm up to speed to do all the things we wanted to do with it, and honestly, it just felt like every single thing we did felt like it took ten times as much work as it did in the city…even getting take out, since no one would deliver out to the middle of nowhere, was at least a thirty minute drive there and back, meaning it was almost less work to just cook instead. The weekly grocery trips would take a full day because we would have to drive to the city in order to fulfill our grocery list.
We knew that the farm would take a lot of work and we were prepared to do a lot of work, but after two years, we realized we weren’t able to focus on some of the things we really wanted to be able to focus on…like each other.
And so we reluctantly made the decision to move back to the city. And we’re back. We’ve been back for nearly two years now. We’re just across the street from the public pool and a 9-hole golf course, which has a bar and an ice cream shop. We’re within walking distance of both the middle and elementary schools that our kids go to. And we have friends all around us.
In fact, if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, we probably would have spent the last year feeling completely overwhelmed just with all of the things we could suddenly do, as opposed to being locked down inside our house feeling reminded of the isolation of the farm.
There’s definitely a part of me who feels he’s still a country mouse and wishes he could go back.
But there’s another part of me who really loves that he can just pick up a phone and have any number of food items immediately delivered to his door without ever having to get up from his seat.
But, most importantly, my kids are doing so much better in the schools here. They all have so many friends, as opposed to in the country, and they are being allowed to excel in the schools. So, although I might miss the days of trudging through the fields and looking for ways to improve my land, I wouldn’t trade it for the happier kids I’ve got now that they have found a place where they feel accepted.