Sometimes it seems there is this romantic notion of farming. It is often seen and portrayed through a rosy lens. It is easy to only see the good times; planting transplants on a sunny spring day, the children playing in the garden while we work, a farmer’s market table full of beautiful and colorful veggies. Farming is something many people dream about but not very many actually do. I think it is because many times the romantic idea of farming doesn’t match up with the reality of the work it takes. While all of the things I listed above are true they only tell part of the story. As a farmer and a blogger it is also easier for me to share the beautiful and joyful times of farming.
But it is not always rosy. It can be a struggle sometimes, some days can be downright miserable. Standing all day at the Farmer’s Market on a cold and rainy day while hardly anybody comes out to buy produce, getting up early to harvest before market hoping the children keep sleeping only to have them wake up and want to be held all morning, an early killing frost that finishes off all the summer crops, deer that break in and eat several hundred dollars of lettuce in one night or nearly ruin the potato crop, people that come and complain about our prices being too high with the attitude that we are getting rich, while it feels like we are barely making a living. We plant our crops, tend them as well as we can and pray for a good harvest. But sometimes things go wrong.
Farming is also simply hard work. Sometimes it can be boring and monotonous work. You have to keep planting even when the weather is bad, you have to keep weeding even when the rows seem endless, you have to work into the cold dark evening covering the crops when a frost is in the forecast.
And yet it it a lifestyle that is full of joy and beauty. It is an amazing feeling to work in the soil and see tiny seedlings emerge from the ground, it is such a joy to watch the boys expressions of delight when they dig up potatoes, there is great satisfaction in bringing a beautiful and bountiful harvest to market.
In a way it compares to marriage. When we get married we tend to think mostly of romantic candlelight dinners, flowers, spending lovely moments together. But the reality is you will be unkind, you will be grouchy, he will hurt your feelings, he will have annoying habits. There will be lots of boring, monotonous days, there will be stress, there will be sickness. And yet with the right perspective and commitment those things will make our love deeper and stronger. And there we will find the true romance, the everyday kind that makes our lives richer and fuller. Yes there will be the highlights, but what really matters is how we respond to everyday moments. Encouraging each other, learning to forgive, laughing together when the stress gets heavy, seeing the positive. These are the things that matter.
The same is true for farming. The challenges and struggles only make us stronger if we let them. It makes the romance deeper and more real, without them life would be shallow. Our faith becomes stronger as we realize just how much is out of our control and we learn to be content through it all. In the end I don’t think that the romance and reality of farming are opposing ideas. I think that without the reality you don’t have true romance. At the end of it all there is great satisfaction and joy in what we do and the life we live. No it is not always easy but it is always blessed.
So should people that dream about farming just give up because it is too hard and too much work? No, I don’t think so. I think we need more people to farm, realizing that it will be hard but that it will also be one of the most rewarding things they could do. If we had more people farming I believe we would have stronger communities and a stronger nation. So if you are the one dreaming of starting your own farm go ahead and chase your dream, be willing to fight for what you want, it is worth it.
I somehow stumbled onto your beautiful post and feel compelled to comment so you know you’ve touched someone out here. We are very much of the same mind this week. It is hard to be a farmer, especially when you are also a mother and a wife. Some days you just wonder how you’ll get through, wondering what will get left to another day and if you’ll really get caught up when winter comes. It is a tough balance to tend to children while doing your best to help in the gardens. We lost a few crops ourselves this year but I’m always happy to report the kids thrived.
Good luck in your farming ventures and I hope you all get some much deserved rest soon!
Another young lady, married to an Andrew, raising kids (4 of them) and organic vegetables (and plenty of animals) in Northeast Washington