Friday, October 22, 2010

Afflicted by Barnheart

I laughed when I read this article, Barnheart: Yearning to be a Farmer, by Jenna Woginrich because it described me so accurately. According to Woginrich, I fall into a category of dreamers who are afflicted by the "disease" she calls Barnheart - sudden onset yearning to farm.

I am most definitely in the research phase she describes because I spend hours daily perusing data about septic systems, tractors, animal husbandry and cultivation techniques. I even have Scott Nearing's seminal book The Good Life on hold at the library. The television is rarely on these days. Gardening and farming blogs are far superior entertainment, filled with new frontier stories. What a rich world the blogosphere has become.

Homesteading while maintaining a creative career isn't out of the question. Woginrich herself (a former design student) holds down a 9-5 corporate job while homesteading, according to her YouTube video.

My homestead dream is more along the lines of that of writer Susan Orleans'. A few low maintenance chickens and an expansive garden. Although I wouldn't balk at a couple head of miniature Dexter cattle and a nubian goat or two for milk and cheese.

I do have a bit of farming experience. My uncle ran a dairy farm that I spent time at as a child. The smell of fresh cut hay, the moist warmth of the cattle in the barn, scrappy barn cats lined up at milking time for a squirt direct from a teat. These are rich memories.

We'd come in from the fields sweaty and exhausted from a day of baling and be greeted by bowls of steaming potatoes and hearty pot roast that my aunt set out for us on a harvest table. Nothing ever tasted as good. My aunt was a true farm wife (now she drives a Lexus) but back then she was right in the thick of it.

Mucking stalls, lugging milk and grain cans and braving a finicky pressure canner as she put up the harvest for winter. It was hard work that started early and ended late in the day. For me it was a wonderful departure from my suburban existence. I recently asked my aunt, who now lives in a condo, if she missed the farm. Her answer, "Every day."

Only one member of my large extended family has followed in their footsteps. A cousin who now operates a buffalo farm of all things. But like my uncle, he too has to hold down a second job to make ends meet. A foot in both worlds is the only way, it seems. As Kermit the frog says, "It's not easy being green."

No comments: