Living on a farm is very different from living in the city. You’re a lot closer to the land and the cycle of life. Things are harder, take longer, and are also quieter. Lots of people say that it’s their dream, but is it really? Here are 10 things I’ve learned from living on a farm to help you decide if it’s right for you.
When you live in the city, you use the bathroom, flush, and never think about it again. The waste goes somewhere and becomes someone else’s problem. Not so in the country if you have animals. If you don’t do something with it, it can attract flies and disease. E coli and nitrates can contaminate wells, waterways, and drinking water. Some people think that because it’s natural and biodegradable you can just leave it there for Nature to care for. Not so.
Life is Fragile
I have goats, guinea fowl, chickens, rabbits, cats, and dogs. Something is always breeding, and not everybody makes it. When you are that close to death, you appreciate it in a way that you might not otherwise. Each healthy birth is a celebrated miracle. Each death is a reminder that nothing is guaranteed. Everything ends. It prepares you for your own inevitable end.
Things Take Time
It takes a lot of foresight to plant a tree that you will never see fully grown. It takes patience to wait for a seed to turn into a tomato. When the winter is deep and long, you know that the sun will return, but it will take time. So, when you don’t get the results you want right away from the rest of your life, waiting and persevering is okay. You know it’s just part of the process. You keep going and don’t expect things to happen over night.
The Sky is Magnificent!
You can see the sky in the city, but it’s not the same sky in the country. So who looks up in the city? Not many people. On a farm, you’re up before the sunrise often so you get to see the glorious colors light up the sky. You appreciate how quickly they change. Blink and you’ve missed it. And the nights are insanely wonderful too. The light and dark are different beasts here. You can really see them.
I’m thirty minutes from everything but the basics. There is a post office, gas station, and carry out, but most everything else is at least thirty minutes away. It’s an hour if you really want to do decent shopping. So, you learn time management. You can’t just call in for take out or run to the store for ice cream. You have to plan. It’s better to get it all once and be done with it. Fortunately, I was a good planner anyway, but this definitely took it up a notch. You either learn to be efficient or tired!
We Generate a Ton of Trash
People are wasteful! I never knew how much trash I generated from single use bags or containers for things I’ve bought until I moved to the country. Here we have to deal with our own rubbish. If you generate a lot of trash, you have to figure out how to get rid of all that trash. So, living on a farm makes you downsize – a LOT. I wish that was something I was aware of sooner, but I am glad I got it now.
Toxins Poison Us
There is no safe way to get rid of toxins. What you put in the soil cycles back around to the food you eat and the water you drink. It’s really easy to have an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, but we measure air quality and water quality because we are our own air and water management company. It matters what we buy and consume, so we have changed a lot to keep things cleaner and more natural.
I live far enough out that it’s hard to get services for really basic things. For example, I don’t have high speed internet. It’s incredibly hard to find an electrician or plumber. So, you have a lot of tools and figure stuff out. You have to. You end up with a lot of basic skills, then wonder why these types of thing aren’t taught in schools over data that most people will never use. School prepares us for work. Farming prepares you for life.
There are all kinds of medicines growing right outside the door. All kinds of wild food are within reach. Most of us will walk by without knowing or seeing it. Capable people are happy people.
We’re All Part of the Web of Life
In the city, you can get away with a lot of laziness. You can pay people to do what you don’t want to do. You can outsource a lot of your life. If you’re living on a farm and don’t do something here, it doesn’t get done. And you see the results of that. You can’t just not feed the animals or not maintain things. You have to be involved. Everyone depends on everyone else pulling their weight. You see how interconnected life is. It gives you a sense of responsibility and worth. What you do matters.
It’s Not About the Stuff
Whoever said, “He who dies with the most stuff wins” didn’t live on a farm. It’s not about the stuff. You can’t buy a gorgeous night sky. You can’t buy the feeling of watching a baby goat come into the world or leap into the air with the joy of being alive. When the first crocuses peak out of the snow or you stumble upon a bunch of wild mushrooms, the delight you feel can’t be gained from having a new car in the driveway or buying a Rolex. (Not that I have a Rolex). It’s a different existence. It’s a natural, connected one.
Living on a farm is tough. Not everyone can or wants to live such a life, but I highly recommend a visit. Fortunately there is a way that you can do it for a weekend and get a taste. Farmstays is a service that connects farm B&Bs to travelers. (I am sure there are other sites as well). You can help with farm chores or just enjoy the scenery. They exist all over the place. I did a farmstay near Salisbury, England. It was magnificent. We had fresh sausage and eggs for breakfast that was grown right there. I heartily encourage you to try it. I think you’ll like it.