In her piece “What Farming Isn’t” Sarah Mock shares what she learned traveling on dirt roads in Midwest farm country. Her list didn’t surprise me at all, except for no. 4: “Farming is not a choice.” She said she asked all 23 of the farmers she met what he would do if he wasn’t a farmer.
“Not a single one could think of anything they would have rather done with their lives. Not a single one had ever even thought about it. Not even once.”
Her sample size is small and since she was visiting large midwestern farms, I imagine she was talking to folks who had arrived where they were via families that had worked the land before them. So maybe they did just fall into farming. But going along with Sarah’s idea is research that says that farming is not an occupation. It is a way of life. And that’s why old farmers seldom retire. It would be like no longer being yourself.
I was interested in this idea of a choice of occupation or a way of life a lot lately. Things have happened to my husband and I in Tucson that make me think of how we can escape and do something else. Given a piece of land and the two yaks my friend Parrot says he has for me, I’d gladly head out and be myself: a farmer. Rachel does it too. Just today she told me she was looking at a farm for sale near her. Last week, she saw some cows she’d happily start a herd with. Farm dreams are the happy place we go in our heads when things are just too tough.
So what do you think? Was farming/ranching a choice for you? What would you be if you could be anything? We have a lot of readers who are in extension, NRCS, and research. Is that your version of being a farmer too? After all it takes all of us to put food on everyone’s plates!
We’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you have an idea for where I can go farm with my yaks and my husband, let me know. 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Kathy and Rachel too even though she’s not in Tucson. 🙂