When I'm introduced to a new acquaintance, the introduction often ends with, "Bryan farms." Like it's the most interesting thing about me. Well, maybe it is.
A few years ago I was introduced that way and the fellow said, "Why would you choose to live way out in the country away from everything."
"Well," I replied,"we like the peace and quiet. We like having space around us. But we're just outside town. We're, like, two miles from the nearest Starbucks."
"I see," he smirked. "You're one of those 'cappuccino cowboys.'"
I should have felt insulted. Maybe I did for a second. Then I thought, "Well, yeah. If that means I farm for fun, that's true. If it means my motivations are more artistic and philosophical than they are economic, then I plead 'guilty as charged.'"
We started calling our farm Rancho Cappuccino.
Industrial agriculture has turned a lot of farmers into underpaid laborers on their own land. The pressures of the industrial model prevent creativity. They grow what the system tells them to grow, in the way the system tells them to grow it. There's too little whimsy in it, and too little joy. Their day, like bad coffee, is a routine grind. The opposite would, I guess, be cappuccino.
True, we're lucky enough to make a good living elsewhere so we can enjoy the farm as a refuge, an avocation, a source of physical and spiritual nourishment: an amateur work of art.
It's sad, though, isn't it that just a few years ago most farms were all those things.
If being a real farmer, or a real cowboy, means trading in my agricultural whimsy and my creativity for a grind of conformity and worry then I don't want to be a "real" cowboy. I'm happy being a cappuccino cowboy. I'm right where I belong here at Rancho Cappuccino.