When we first started to talk to our family and friends about buying a farm the reactions were mixed but predominately quizzical. Why? As if something was wrong with us. How come? As if there was some force pushing us into something we weren't ready for. Are you sure? As if we hadn't spent enough time debating and talking about the move. Then there was the big one. What are you going to do with a farm? As if the question didn't already have the answer in it, FARM.
We are city folks, my family is third generation urbanites. Our friends were of the same ilk. So it wasn't too surprising that we were met with their concerns, doubts and skepticisms. I guess all of them thought that gardening was fine but large scale gardening was border line psychotic. I know they liked our tomatoes, peppers and herbs but we wanted to try other things, lots of other things.
Besides, I never told anyone what my childhood dreams were. To do that would jeopardize the possibility of achieving them. So no one knew that I wanted land, horses, a big garden and a pool and they probably thought that it was something that we just started talking about. But when word got around that we had placed a contract on a farm everyone weighed in with thoughtful words of caution, limited encouragement and counseling referrals.
When you come from the city, gardening on a large scale is for people established in the farming community. In the city you're supposed to grow a couple vegetables as a hobby, you certainly don't make a living at it and you'll live in relative obscurity if you try. They all made perfect sense- farms have been on the decline ever since we've been alive. Farm-Aide started when we were teens, and the scenes depicted of families losing everything, having to stand by at auctions and watch their possessions sold off was heart-breaking. It was real and it was tragic. People don't choose to be farmers; they are born into it, at least that was the prevailing feeling we got. You don't invest money and time in a declining industry. Yet we were on the precipice of doing just that.
So while all the concern was being directed at us we were slowly moving towards purchasing the farm house and the property. The house was built in 1837 on land once owned by a historic figure. As part of the purchase we had the house inspected by a family friend.
Before he was done he took both of us aside and flat out said you don't want this house. It would cost us more to fix it up than the structure was worth. We'd be better off tearing it down and building from scratch. When he was done he had over eighteen pages of notes and things wrong with the house, barn and milking shed.
We had twenty four hours to decide to back out or continue forward. My wife and I are very deliberate logical people, fiscally and environmentally conservative and socially liberal. We are not the fix-it-up types. There were so many factors telling us not to buy and move on that it seemed like a no brainer to anyone looking at all the facts.
There was just something about the place, I think had we'd known we would pull 68 black snakes out of the house maybe we would have went in the opposite direction. As it turned out we didn't and there has been something akin to a spiritual journey taking place ever since. We are religious people, we believe in a higher calling and that we are on this earth to help make a difference no matter how insignificant it may be.
The first six months in the house were arduous and filled with snake encounters. My wife called it luxury camping. We added living in the house as part of our prayer routine. During that time we had what I call our fetal position moments: we cried, we had great doubts and we had buyers' remorse. But we kept praying not really asking for anything but the strength to continue. One day a cat showed up at our door, I scared it away but we'd see it again and again. We found that it was living in our barn which was fine with me but my wife wanted to bring it inside. I resisted and gave a cogent argument as to why not. "It's feral," I said, it turned out not to be and was already spayed. After a two foot snow fall the barn cat was introduced to her new home. She was aptly named BC and she was the first cat to adopt us.
The snow thawed and with spring came snakes. Except these snakes were showing up dead. We were finding them all over the place. It didn't take long for us to realize that BC was the one killing the snakes. She was the answer to our prayers. BC could care less for mice. I saw her once watch a mouse eating out of her food bowl. She was sitting by the woodstove and just watched as the mouse ate away. She didn't flinch, but if it was a snake that was a different story. We could tell when she had spotted one as she never moved but waited for her chance at the slithery creature.
That was the start of the turn-around for us. We are now part of something bigger than what we had expected. There was a time when it was just meat making people sick and being recalled. Recently, more stories of vegetables like spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and even peanut butter have been contaminated. We are part of a greater community of people that are providing safe, fresh and tasty food to our neighbors and friends. As bad as the past has been moving here,doing what we have been doing seems right.
Before every game legendary coach Marv Levy, of the Buffalo Bills, said to his team "At this moment in time, where else would you rather be, than right here, right now?" I would not want it any other way.