When Jim and I bought our first acreage, we were just shy of 30 years old. We both dug in and worked hard to make that land into a small farm for our family. We had all the energy in the world!
Jim was working full time in the city, and on weekends he was building fences, mending fences, planting fruit trees, tilling garden plots. I was a stay-at-home mom with three young kids, making our house a home, growing some of our food, and doing lots of domestic things “the old fashioned way.”
After that, life took us here and there for a few decades, and flash forward to today — we are now just shy of 60 years old. We are both digging in and working hard to make this land into a farm for our family. But guess what? We no longer have all the energy in the world!
We have enough, though. We are putterers and we like to stay busy — it seems to be in our genes. Neither of us lacks for ideas for more things to do around here. We just have to remember to pace ourselves and leave some tasks to our younger family members.
We keep an eye on each other and watch for telltale signs that we need a break or need to get help for something. We rarely miss our afternoon coffee date together, whether it’s in the living room, at the kitchen table, on folding chairs in the barn, or somewhere in our beautiful “backyard.” It forces us to sit down and even close our eyes for a spell.
Of course, our life would be different if our kids had not wanted to make this a joint family project. If it were just the two of us, Jim and I would be on 10 or 20 acres just outside a small town, not far from family, with a few chickens, a steer or two, a garden, and some fruit trees.
And truth be told, there would be a point at which we'd be too old to start even a small farm by ourselves. But since we are part of this extended family adventure, we are enjoying it to the hilt. Some of our heroes are elderly longtime farmers who have continued to tend their gardens, care for their livestock, and preserve their own food. They say they won't stop till "they buy the farm" or "the cows come home."
Several years ago Jim and I adopted a personal mantra from the movie “Far and Away.” You may know the story: Joseph and Shannon, played by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, escape from their unfulfilling lives in Ireland and sail to America. Shannon’s parents, Daniel and Nora, come looking for their runaway daughter. All four of them end up in the Midwest during the Oklahoma Land Rush.
Daniel and Nora, a middle-aged couple, embark on a frantic (and comical) race to claim a piece of land. As they stand victoriously surveying their chosen prize, Daniel says tenderly to Nora:
“Let’s pretend we’re starting out instead of ending up.”
Here’s to starting out … at any age!
Marie and her husband, Jim, are developing a farm in the Pacific Northwest with their adult children and grandchildren. At The Homesteader Kitchen (http://homesteaderkitchen.com), Marie and her daughter review kitchen equipment and talk about preparing and preserving delicious food. Along with other family members, Marie shares glimpses of country life at Rural Living Today (http://rurallivingtoday.com) and teaches practical skills at The Homesteader School (http://homesteaderschool.com).