Grit Blogs > The Accidental Farmer

From City Girl to Farmer in Just 12 Years

April FreemanI didn’t mean to become a farmer. It just sort of … accidentally happened!

I didn’t grow up on a farm.

I didn’t even grow up in a rural area. We had cats and dogs, and once a hamster, but I never even touched a cow until I was an adult.

How did it happen?

In late 2001, my husband and I moved onto a six-acre patch of ground upon which we had built our new home. The plan was to live in the house a couple years and then move again.

I was nervous about living there. Our neighbors were far away, and our house was 600 feet from the road. What if there was an emergency? What if someone broke in? It was awfully dark out here at night.

After a few weeks, I adapted to my more rural lifestyle. I didn’t jump every time I heard a sound at night, and I started checking out the stars after dark. I’d never been able to see so many of them.

The next spring, we began planting trees. And the rest, as you could say, is history. I began to be a little more attached to our place as we planted fruit trees and flowers, and got things whipped into shape.

A few years later, the empty field next to us came up for sale. The only good building site was right next to where we had built our home. To keep neighbors from moving in and wrecking our privacy, we bought the nine-acre plot.

We began thinking of ways to use our property. One dream that we had always had was to have a few horses. We couldn’t afford them right then, but we decided that we should fence the field and put some cows on it. The cows could start putting money in the bank that we could use to buy horses in the future.

We began a small flock of chickens. I started getting more attached to the land. It felt more like home, and I began to think of myself as a farmer.

After we were able to buy an additional 28 acres, thoughts of selling our house and land fled. We were real farmers. We’d sweated over our miles of barbed wire as we fenced our property. We’d become very good at raising cattle. We finally got those horses we’d talked about all those years before. Words like “EPD,” “calving ease,” and “heirloom corn” became regular topics of conversation. I began to have thoughts of maybe buying a milk cow. I eagerly anticipated spring each year so that I could get in the dirt and start planting veggies.

The hands of my family worked hard to make it a beautiful place.

This was our farm. It was our labor that made it our own.

But in a way it was more than that. It was more than my husband and I owning a farm. In a way, our farm owned us.

We are a part of this land. Here is where my four children will grow up. Their memories will be of this 43-acre chunk of land. They will know every knoll, every hillside like the backs of their hands. Their memories will be of riding horses on the back 40, raising calves and baby chicks. They will learn to work hard in the garden, pulling weeds and picking up rocks. Their memories will bind them to this place, so that even when they are grown and moved away, they will come back. They will roam the land and know that in a way, this land owns them too.

How did this happen? As a teen I was the typical shallow girl, in to shopping, fashion and movies. Farmers have dirt under their nails. They smelled like sweat and manure. They didn’t know about the latest television shows or celebrities.

Somehow, in the past 12 years, I’ve changed. Movies, television, fashion, and shopping no longer appeal to me. The magic of this small farm in Middle Tennessee has cast a spell over me.

I accidentally became a farmer.

And I love it!

farm sun rise
The sun rises over our farm with the barn in the background and the silhouette of a cow in the foreground.