TW: Talking about losing a family member, and mostly just musing aloud about life. No stress if you skip this one, it got a little heavy, sorry guys.
Anyone here ever watch Green Acres? For the uninitiated, Lisa and Oliver Douglas (Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert) move from a New York penthouse to a rundown farm in the middle of very rural Hooterville in order to fulfill Oliver’s dream of being a farmer. Lisa is against leaving Park Avenue, but willingly adapts to farm life, and the silly shenanigans intrinsic of a late 60’s early 70’s sitcom ensues. Oliver is never quite able to overcome all the wacky work that the farm needs, and the host of characters is just nutty enough to wreak good-natured havoc for the half hour time slot.
I’m convinced I accidentally moved to Hooterville… trust me, the cast fits.
But, honestly, that’s not why I brought the show up. I was thinking about the words to the theme song, which is a duet where Oliver and Lisa sing about their conflicting views on moving to a farm. It’s a definite earworm, take that into account before you look it up. She sings “New York is where I’d rather stay…” and he sings “farm living is the life for me”. That hit a particular cord this week, as I have been reflecting a lot on how lucky I am to live on a farm, but only because I see it that way.
We lost a family member a little earlier this month, he was an interesting fellow. I bring him up because he grew up on a farm, was a quintessential farm kid, doing everything from planting and irrigating to animal husbandry tasks and cleaning out manure piles. He also left the farm as soon as he could and swore, he was never coming back.
Other than some visits, he never did come back to the farm lifestyle. He was so much happier living in a city environment, closer to friends, less dirt, and more people with his interests. I’m not judging him in any way, everyone’s different, but I never got it. How could you not love waking up and taking care of the animals, going out to see your seeds grow, and ending the day tired and covered head to toe in mud? He’s like Eva Gabor’s character, he didn’t really enjoy the rural lifestyle, but he put up with it for his family, because they did.
I didn’t know this family member incredibly well, as he had left before I was old enough to understand, but I remember once, when I was most likely going on and on (and on and on, as I tend to do) about how much fun I was having visiting his parents farm, he just looked tired and said something along the lines of “One day the magic will wear off, kiddo”.
This isn’t uncommon right? Heck, we have a whole template for romance flicks that revolve around the main character leaving the farm, and their soul mate behind for a time (I’m looking at you, Hallmark). In the movies they always come back, and fall back in love with (and sometimes, magically save) the family farm. I wonder how true that is to life, do citified farm kids always come back? Would my family member have eventually returned? Or can you truly, and honestly, burn out on the farm life?
I worry about this sometimes, what if I get bored of the farm? What if one day I don’t wake up excited to get my day started? I honestly don’t see that happening, at least not soon. I currently wake up each morning just as excited about the farm as I did day one, possibly even more so now as the critter count has grown. I dream of raising kids, and spoiling grandkids, here. I love this place, I love the sunrises, the sunsets, the smell of fresh cut alfalfa and wet horse (don’t judge me). I love coming home to critter kisses and farm fresh eggs, and the list of outdoor chores that only ever gets longer. I even love those days when I come home to broken irrigation, water geysers in my pasture, and knocked over fencing. I know I live on a hobby farm, I know I don’t see the pressures of a truck farm, so it’s different, but I still love the rural lifestyle. Honestly, I really like who I am when I’m on the farm too, level-headed, capable, and happy. It’s a gift to feel that way in this day and age.
I truly don’t think my family member loved those days or felt that way. I don’t think he ever stood by a corral fence watching the sunset just to prolong being outside a little longer. I doubt highly he packed up after a long day at work dreaming of an evening ride or curling up on the back porch for a quiet night. And that’s totally fine, some people love the bright lights, the hustle and bustle, the barely controlled chaos and constant buzz of city living, and I’m so happy he got to experience that. There’s absolute magic in those moments.
I couldn’t see that magic when I lived on the coast. I couldn’t see the magic in stoplights reflecting on wet pavement, seeing and connecting with a hundred different faces you never knew, or the moments of peace watching the world go by from an apartment window. He could. I see the magic in tiny plant starts, wet hoof prints, bailing twine fixes, and sweet tea on the back porch. There’s lots of different magic in the world, you just have to find yours. I hope you have that opportunity, and I hope the magic this little plot of land holds for me never grows dim.
Farm living is definitely not for everyone, that’s for sure, but it’s definitely for me.