When you’re dreaming about farming or homesteading, it’s easy to be consumed with the exciting things. Baby chicks. Fresh eggs. Pulling the season’s first sun ripened tomato from the vine. Sun drenched fields of green on still summer days with cotton puff clouds softly floating by overhead.
You know, the things we usually take pictures of and put on Instagram.
What often doesn’t get considered is all the other stuff in between. Muddy days that go on forever (which mean muddy kitchen floors and loads of laundry). Spinach that won’t germinate because the weather turned too hot too soon. Squash bugs that decimate the squash. And the cucumbers. And the pumpkins. Cold days during the long months of winter risking frostbitten fingertips to break the ice in the drinking tanks. Or the bitter cold nights spent with a pregnant sow to make sure she delivers her babies alright. Only to lose them all anyway.
If we knew more about these things before going all in, maybe some of us wouldn’t buy the land, or break the ground or bring home that first cow, goat or pig. Maybe we would continue to work the job we hate so we can buy the tasteless fruit from the grocery store while wondering deep down inside if there isn’t something more to life. Maybe, if we knew up front how hard farming really was, we would simply walk away from the dream because it’s just easier that way.
Maybe some of us would do this. But probably not me.
It’s true that farming isn’t easy. It’s hard work. There’s heartache involved. It’s lonely at times. It’s certainly not glamorous. And you just might go broke doing it.
But it’s also the most fulfilling thing that I’ve ever tried to do.
When I hear our rooster crow in the early morning light, something moves deep down within my soul. It’s a spiritual thing, I think. When the pigs run to the gate because they see me coming with a bucket in my hand, I know I am serving a purpose that’s much bigger than myself. We collect the eggs from the coop, we harvest the produce from the field and we have the incredible opportunity to serve our community with wholesome and delicious food. These are the rewards of our labor.
I am reminded often by all of these things how fragile and precious life really is. From nurturing a newborn pig to transplanting the first plant of the season into the soil, we have the opportunity to hold life in our hands and witness the vibrancy of a created world that is teeming with energy and purpose. There is a rhythm to this life, and within that rhythm nothing is easy. Nature is a symphony of beauty and growth, but none of the magic is possible without struggle. Think about it. When was the last time you saw a flower grow or a bee fill her hive with honey without challenge? Everything in creation is formed out of the intentional dance between struggle and joy.
That, my friends, is perhaps our greatest lesson to learn.
I think there is a certain kind of lunacy in pursuing the life of a farmer. But there is something particularly special at the end of this narrow path, something that not many people will get the chance to experience. It’s not because it’s not available to them, because it absolutely is.
It’s just not easy to get there.