Welcome back to RamZone’s Year of the Farmer guest blogger series, where stories of life on the American farm are offered up by the people most qualified to tell them—American farmers. The goal of the series, of course, is to raise awareness in the Year of the Farmer for the values, ideals and simple pleasures associated with the farming life.
Last month, guest blogger Debbie Lyons-Blythe offered up an excellent post on how farming is a family business. This month, returning blogger Lisa Steele reveals how her relationship to the family farm—and to country living—has changed over time.
Getting Back to My Roots
By Lisa Steele
Unlike the famous pop singer who croons about being born and then living out his days peacefully in a small town, I was determined to escape my “country roots.” Despite an idyllic childhood filled with lazy days swimming in the local lake, climbing the myriad of apple trees in our yard whiling away the hours daydreaming or crunching apples, and raising everything from chickens to rabbits to goats in the New England town in which I was raised, I was not going to die in a small town.
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my childhood immensely. Fond memories of helping my father dig holes for fence posts, picking raspberries and selling them by the side of the road, and riding my bicycle on dirt roads are interspersed with memories of trips to the local drive-in each summer, ice cream from the local creamery and visiting the farm down the road to buy butter-and-sugar corn that my brother and I would husk on our back steps when we got home. We would sometimes sneak into my grandmother’s garden with a cup of sugar and eat rhubarb stalks picked straight from the warm, dark soil. The bitterness of the rhubarb mingled with the sweetness of sugar on our tongues while we watched our grandparent’s chickens scratch in the yard for bugs.
But I just knew that I was destined for bigger and better things. I finished high school and went off to college, getting a degree in accounting. That led me to a job working on Wall Street. My life became a whirlwind of late nights, cocktail hours and movie premieres, dining in five-star restaurants with clients after work and riding the train back and forth to my tiny apartment.
Summers were no longer spent lazing away the sweltering days lying on a hammock in the backyard reading a book or sunbathing on a raft in the middle of a lake. Instead I found myself teetering down the streets of Manhattan in high heels, clutching a briefcase and trying to hail a cab while secretly wishing I could peel off my panty hose, kick off my pumps and slip my bare feet into lush green grass in the country.
Fast forward fifteen years. Quickly growing tired of the hustle and bustle of city life, I felt stifled and longed for the slower pace of the country. Now, I live on a farm again with my husband, horses, dogs, ducks and yes, chickens. We grow raspberries and there is a cornfield across the street from our farm. We haven’t had any luck planting rhubarb since we’re in the South now, but we do have apple trees that I have been known to climb from time to time.
Friends who have only known me as an adult often comment how different my life is now compared to when I was living the corporate life, but I always tell them that the country is where I belong. All I really did was return to my roots. The best day on Wall Street could never rival the feeling of satisfaction I get out of growing our own vegetables and raising chickens for their fresh eggs. While I work longer and harder now than I ever did sitting in a cubicle in a high-rise office building, there is nowhere on earth I would rather be than here on our farm. And if I’m going to die in a small town, well, that’s just fine by me.
Lisa can be found regularly blogging about life on the farm at Fresh Eggs Daily.