Why I'm Going Back to the Farm

Reader Contribution by Robert White
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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.

One 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.

More recently, I’ve been reading about nutrition. More and more, I am realizing the importance of eating things that have been grown in a sustainable way, the way they were meant to be grown, naturally, organically. My Facebook posts frequently reference topics along these lines, in addition to pictures of healthy recipes I’ve just prepared.

So the more I began recognizing these timeless, positive experiences from the past, and the more focused I became in my reading on these topics currently, the more it began fueling a passion to return to the farm. I want to grow things that would be healthy for me and for others. as something I could do for a living. I will use land at my parents’ Nebraska farm to begin.

Part of my preparation to return to the farm involves various education opportunities. I’ll talk more about them in my posts over the next several weeks.

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