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. 🙂