Would I Choose to Farm Again?

At one of my recent presentations, a man in the audience asked if I would do it all over again, meaning choose to farm.

It was a fair question, but hard to answer. I can’t ‘un-know’ all I’ve learned during the last fifteen years, so if Melissa were to once again ask me to help her start a farm, I can never again be that young, fairly clueless woman of 37. I can only start from here. If Melissa were to say to me tomorrow, “Hey, let’s sell the sheep and start a dairy farm,” I’d say, “If you want to remain married to me, I wouldn’t recommend it.”

But as I think about the question, I realize he was really asking me if I have any regrets about my choice to farm. Americans tend to get all twisted in knots about our decisions—am I making the right choice? the wrong one? For years I’ve tried to side-step this anxiety by just accepting that I make a decision, something happens, and I make the next decision. This feels easier to deal with than worrying about right vs. wrong.

Do I regret being a part of this farm? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs now being written by men and women who’ve moved to the country and started farming. These blogs are written by people who clearly want to be there, who thrive on crazy hard physical labor, sweating in the sun, etc. I’m not them. They aren’t me. I seem to have made a career out of being different, of being a somewhat reluctant farmer. It’s a weird spot to be known for doing something that doesn’t always feel comfortable to me.

Do I regret being part of this farm? Since we started farming, eight out of the eleven books I’ve written since then have been influenced/inspired by the farm. My three novels were an escape from the farm, so the farm influenced these as well! I cannot regret something that has given me so much to say, that has shaped my writing voice and helped me connect with so many people touched by our stories. 

I live in a lovely location, surrounded by wildlife and livestock. I feel closer to nature than ever before. I’m more aware of both my strengths and weaknesses because farming shines a relentless spotlight on both.

No, I don’t regret saying ‘Yes’ to Melissa all those years ago. I feel as if I have one foot in the city, and one foot on the farm, and if that turns me into a bridge between the two worlds, then that’s where I’m supposed to be…. for now. 🙂

6 thoughts on “Would I Choose to Farm Again?

  1. Well said…choices can be difficult at times, but most of the time I think we all do a pretty good job of making the correct one for us, even if we cannot see it at the time. I have no regrets in life – if I changed one tiny little thing, I would not have the wonderful life I have now. Sounds like you feel very much the same way!

  2. We can never have everything at one time, but it sounds as if you are able to truly appreciate everything good about your life, and find humor in the things that go awry. You two are definite inspirations to many people – some may harbor hopes of becoming a farmer, but so many learn how to be wiser and more compassionate consumers. Not only are people becoming more aware of how their animals are raised, but more willing to pay appropriately for the hard work that goes in to raising animals like you do. Long way to go still towards compensating appropriately, but you are helping pave the way! BTW I have finally had time to start the new book and am halfway through and loving it!

  3. I would imagine what makes your situation extremely difficult is your very profession. Sure, the farm has given you fodder for your writing but the life of a writer (which is your personality and your passion)is NOT condusive to being outside, getting dirty, sweating a lot, wrangling animals, growing gardens/crops, etc. So, of course, this seems in direct opposition to what you may want to be doing or feel comfortable doing.

    Having said that, I think you’ve illustrated you can do a darn good job of being a “farmer.” Even though you do it as a compromise which takes you away from your writing life and because it supports Melissa and your relationship . . . well, in any good relationship that any of us are willing to work on so that it thrives, such is necessary.

    Duh, did that make any sense??

  4. Mama Pea, you always make sense…as do the rest of you. I do struggle to balance something that exhausts me physically with something that exhausts me mentally.

    But I’m sure I’m not unique in this. We all struggle with balance, balance, balance. Does anyone ever get it right? And if they do, how can it last? Maybe there is no “right,” there is just today.

    Gaack. Getting too philosophical…

  5. I am really enjoying reading through your blog! For some time now, I have been feeling an intense yearning to leave my 9-5 and set in motion a transition to a new lifestyle which has as its core, a sheep dairy! I found your book Sheepish yesterday when searching through my local bookstore for guidance! So far, guidance on completely changing your life and getting onto the farm is kind of hard to come by… at least pragmatic advice that doesn’t lead to the conclusion of impossibility is. 🙁 All the naysayers haven’t broken me down yet though! I look forward to reading Sheepish, and Hit by a Farm, and hopefully I’ll get there some day! Do you two produce any sheep milk, or sheep diary products on your farm?

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