Why I'm Going Back to the Farm

| 1/9/2012 4:34:24 PM

Tags: Robert White, farm, farming, chickens, rabbits, homesteading, farm education, Robert White,

I’m plotting a revolution. It’s a personal one, but it’s a revolution just the same. At age 49, I’m reinventing myself as a farmer.

I consider myself a work in progress, a diamond in the rough, and particularly a late bloomer. I’ve looked at people who have happily held the same career their whole lives with envy. I’ve never felt that passionate about anything until recently. At times I feel like I’m ADHD, as my attention is easily distracted by something different all the time. There are lots of things I think I would enjoy in a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none way, which has led me down lots of various job tracks.

But over the course of the last couple of years, I have been experiencing increasing job dissatisfaction. It actually goes beyond dissatisfaction to borderline depression, hopelessness and despondency.

One day a particular email in my inbox caught my eye. It was from Dave Ramsey of debt-free living fame. A simple thing struck me about the short article. It said, “Stop looking out there, outside of yourself; look back at your past to find what you love.” Another article I read recently said pretty much the same thing but added to it: Look for something you have done where you weren’t aware of time.

That really got me thinking. What is it that I enjoyed in my past? So my mind was drawn to several snapshots from my younger years with experiences with gardening, experiences on the farm, in the outdoors. Right now, I sit in a cubicle, in front of a computer monitor, sometimes on the phone, contrary to being outdoors as in my growing-up years on the farm.
Robert as a KidOne particular childhood memory-snapshot involved freedoms I enjoyed on the farm, to do things like converting several empty farrowing houses to various poultry houses, incubating eggs, having ducks for pets, and raising rabbits.

A few years back, when my kids were grade-school age, we lived in a small town on a large double lot. I took advantage of the empty lot portion by moving a tumble down shack from the neighbors over, rebuilding it, and creating a chicken run. We also had a large garden with some very rich silty dark soil. We raised a few chickens and tried rabbits. We named the two does Rachel and Leah because, for rabbits, they seemed to struggle with infertility like their biblical namesakes. We were able to sell some of our leftover produce on a curb up by the town square. I loved it and the kids learned a lot.

leeann coleman
1/13/2012 2:28:56 PM

In my youth I dreamt of living on a farm. I worked on one, why couldn't I have my own? Then school / jobs / children / mortgage / divorce got in the way. Now I'm 52 and happy to say that the BIG PLAN is to put the suburban house on the market next year (last child will be a senior) and move to the country. I've already started looking for land. Not that I haven't been busy - I keep bees, an organic garden, I put up my own jams, etc. I have just run out of outdoor space - and my town prohibits me from having chickens, nevermind livestock. My heart is with you Robert, and all the rest of you. We will do it; we will be successful!

rachel frank
1/11/2012 4:03:31 PM

This makes me so happy! At 26, I don't want to wait to be able to do this, I want to start as soon as I can. I want my son to grow up with these experiences. Good luck to you all and I hope to be joining you soon!

tony jenkins
1/11/2012 3:17:59 PM

Okay, you guys are making me cry here. I love it. God bless you all. Robert, thank you so much for sharing your story. You've obviuously given a lot of people, including me, renewed hope.

tony jenkins
1/11/2012 3:10:32 PM

My favorite part of the day is my afternoons out by the chicken coop, working in my shed/workshop/ ham radio shack. I hav My family chuckles when I walk out the patio or garage door, and the chickens start coming over to the near side of the coop, or running toward me, if they're out free-ranging. Live the dream, dear.

christina roberson
1/11/2012 2:37:27 PM

I quit my cubicle job yesterday... a wonderful, cushy state job that no longer 'fit'. I live on a farm in NE OK and today is my first day as a full time farmer!!!!! At 51, I feel like a kid again. There are hundreds of us doing this! We missed the 'back to the land' movement of the 70's and are now beginning our own version of that revolution.

donna poole
1/11/2012 1:17:20 PM

Wow, I read this, and it was like I had written it! One year ago at age 51, I too, after years of non satisfying jobs, and life that always had "something " missing returned to my roots as a farmer. I was fortunate to purchase a 3 ac parcel with an option of additional acerage located in an area of beautiful FL horse farms. I traded my decent paying 'big box" retail job for a lessor "one at a feed store, and am busy teaching my Husband to farm. We haven't looked back for a second. Sometimes finding your way home is all that you needed to do !!!

tim ash sr
1/11/2012 2:28:13 AM

Go for it young lady , you have a lot folks cheering you on and maybe we will be reading your blog one day and you can tell us how your son became a believer!

todd mccain
1/10/2012 11:12:47 PM

I couldn't have said it better. We live on 20 acres that my grandad grew up on and after nearly 13 years we are finally turning it back into a working farm. I took me a while to get there personally, always chasing happiness in the world, but all along it was right there in the very dirt I lived on. We started chickens last spring, had a home garden, and transplanted muscadine vines from my other grandads house. This year we hope to start market gardening, I am learning to make cheese, and if she is bred, we will be milking our dairy goat in the spring. We are finding out how life is supposed to be lived.

beth sundman
1/10/2012 8:26:10 PM

My family just moved from the suburbs in SW Michigan to the rural cornfields of NW Illinois. My hubby is from the Upper Peninsula while I was "misplaced" by being a country girl growing up in Metro Detroit. :) While we are currently renting while we still try to sell the house in MI (another Dave Ramsey recommendation! LOL), we're already discussing plans for large gardens, canning/preserving extensively, raising animals, joining 4H, composting, rain barrels, greenhouses from recycled materials, and passive solar. You name it and we've probably tossed it around the dinner table. We are SO much happier and peaceful (even just in the planning stage) than we ever were in the 'burbs in the rat race. Huzzah to you, good sir! Look forward to your additional posts! :)

lucas short
1/10/2012 8:08:34 PM

Jack of all trades? ADHD? Hate your job? Well sir, we have clearly been cut from the same cloth. I am finding myself on the same path, destination: self-sufficiency. Now all I gotta do is pay off the debts society would have me atone for and get some land and I will be happy not to have a monetary income.

john sealander
1/10/2012 6:08:20 PM

Congrats Robert. Your post sounded like the story of my life too! We are happily ensconced on our 5 acres, raising meat birds, laying hens, rabbits, Blueberries and a large garden. while it's not ALL milk and Honey -there's some thorns and Poison Oak along the way - it's a wonderful way to live when you can finally escape the 'cubicle'. I no longer need a wrist watch...I look to the sun for the time of day. I no longer need a 'Dayrunner' or a cell phone...a monthly calendar and a land line do just fine. What's more important now is the season, my hardiness zone and the current soil temperature! (Don't tell my wife, but I use her meat thermometer!) And I LOVE rainy days...good for my crops and a day off for me!

maija shelley
1/10/2012 5:56:33 PM

I am blown away by the timing ~as well as the content~ of your post. I was raised in Toronto, but have always dreamed I had been misplaced at birth. I have always known I was a country girl. Over the years I have moved from smaller to smaller towns. I have been in this town of 5,000 for almost 20 years now. I should add; I'm 52 as of the other day. In the last few months I have been experiencing the awakening of lost dreams. That horse of my dreams; perhaps it's NOT beyond my reach! (Mom, please, I'll look after it if you let me keep a horse in the basement!) The chickens in the yard, NOT beyond my reach. The market stand; NOT beyond! For some wonderful reason I have just realized life is not over yet. I still have time to realize my dreams... even the ones I thought long gone. Sadly, I have one grown son who calls my re-awoken dream "stupid and unrealistic". He says my lifelong inability to stick to anything proves I would never be able to care for that horse and those chickens... proves that I will not do the work such a life requires. His words create two things inside me: (1)Incredible doubt and sadness (2)anger and stubbornness to prove I can do it! My feeling/thought is that perhaps if I work towards, and achieve, that life-long dream, the thrill (and peace) of living it will make the work simply a part of that reality. After all, when you love doing something doesn't that lighten the load somehow? Should I find I have taken on more than I can carry, I can simply reduce my load to a level I find I am able to bear. Nothing is written in stone. Thank you, Robert, for sharing your story.

christiane potts
1/10/2012 5:19:06 PM

Bravo Robert! We aren't actually returning to the farm (we live in the woods), but have made similar moves. We now have a chicken coop and five gloriously loud hens. I am looking forward to following your journey and learning from you.

lynne cobb
1/10/2012 5:18:23 PM

Robert - I really enjoyed your article.My husband and I have discussed this very same thing - and we didn't grow up on farms! But we appreciate the benefit (and tate) of local grown foods and are learning to grow our own.

1/10/2012 4:31:53 PM

You have the right frame of mind. We're living the life, FINALLY, after all my years invested in a very public career. Now I write free-lance, what I've always wanted to do, and it's my job on the homestead to market our small production of heirloom and range-fed chicken and duck eggs. You can bet I'll be signing up for the local farmer's market. Right now, I have an egg route on Saturdays! I post regularly to provide fun and info on homesteading topics. Catch us at http://thepauleyprinciple.blogspot.com.

tony jenkins
1/10/2012 1:52:24 PM

Robert, thanks so much for letting me know that it isn't just me. At 57, I've spent many years of my life apologizing to my dear wife and wonderful family for my inability to stick with anything for long periods of time. I spent just over nine years in the Navy before my nature got the better of me, and I took my leave. I just left a job of four years where I'd thought I'd go stark raving mad if I was forced to endure one more month. And I, too, am trying to rediscover myself on our eight acres, where our entire family(less one daughter and her husband, who serves in the Navy) moved last year after a fire rendered our city-home uninhabitable. I'll be anxious to read your articles about our somewhat parallel journeys. Thank you again.

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