Grit Blogs > Chasing Dorothy

Toto, get your stuff; we're going back to Kansas.

By Natalie K. Gould, Assistant Editor/Web Editor


Tags: Kansas, Chicago, moving, cows, farms, ranch, life, Natalie K. Gould,

Photo of Natalie K. 

GouldNearly a century ago, a family left their home country of Germany and moved to rural Kansas to find their American dream…of sugar beet farming. This family, my family, learned to speak English, farm on new soil, drive cars and adapt to American life on the eve of World Wars where Germans were not the most popular folk. But they did it, and Kansas was their canvas. As kids grew up and farming wasn’t paying them any favors, they moved away from Kansas (and the farm) to more stable jobs out East and in the Northwest. One lone family member remained in Kansas and still resides in Cottonwood Falls.

I was sitting in my high-rise Chicago apartment one day pondering the important things in life: what will I have for dinner, what will I do this weekend, how will I get downtown during rush hour, where do I want to start my career? Being in the magazine industry, you are almost expected to start in New York, but I was not about to have it.

Every few weeks I called my Nanna and made her tell me stories about the farm. One summer we even took a road trip to see the (30 person) town she lived in, the soil she sowed, the one-room house she and her family occupied. A little seed had been planted years ago. I had farm dreams. So when graduation neared and resumes were being sent, I couldn’t ignore the prodding that told me to nurture that seed and see what happens. New York wasn’t going to be the place to do it, not even Chicago would do. Kansas felt right, and soon, it was the only place I could imagine myself.

I phoned up my family and told them I wanted to reinstate the family farm. We had been out of the soil for long enough. We were farmers when we came to this country, and we should never forget what makes us who we are. Most of the phone calls fell silent on the other end. “You want to do what??” I want to learn how to farm. My grandma and her siblings who came from that same German farm were touched that I wanted to follow my ancestor’s journey. The more and more I think about it, the more I can’t see myself anywhere else.

While I don’t have a piece of land (yet), I constantly daydream about what my family must have experienced out here in Kansas. Nanna reassures me, “It’s a very good life. A hard life. But a very good life.” So for now, I’ll keep making her tell me stories of the farm, beg my editors to let me help out on their farms, and edit stories about things I wish I was doing. Fishing anyone?

natalie gould
7/13/2012 11:01:13 PM

Hi Donna, thanks for reading! I'm very glad I chose this route rather than the other. It feels right to me. Thanks for interacting with us on FB...I like to make it feel as though we're all in this conversation together. Doesn't matter if we live in the country or the city, but rather that we have the same goals in mind. Hope to keep you entertained with my transition to this new life :) Have a great weekend.


natalie gould
7/13/2012 10:57:36 PM

You're so sweet! Couldn't imagine doing anything else :)


ilene reid
7/13/2012 9:49:38 PM

Great first blog Natalie! We here at Grit are so very fortunate to have you on board. You are a perfect fit, and yes Natalie is personable, friendly, excited, a go-getter and fun to work with. We look forward to what you bring to Grit. Welcome!


donna larsen
7/13/2012 8:39:11 PM

You made the right choice, Natalie. I also turned down the NYC magazine/editorial route many years ago. Keeping your heart in your roots is what matters in the long run, no matter where it takes you. ;) I grew up in Alabama, read Grit newspaper into adulthood, moved to Los Angeles and lost track. So glad to find you all online. I just subscribed to Grit Magazine, and look forward to your daily blog. I like your style, Natalie. Personable and friendly, like country folk. This morning's question about everybody's weather makes people feel included and that our input is important to the magazine.. So glad Grit has not only survived into the computer age, but is moving ahead of the times. I don't live in the country now, but I love it and yearn to go back to it. ...All the best to you in your new position. ...I also mentioned Grit web and FB link to a 430-member FB page I admin for my home town. ...Donna in LA


natalie gould
7/13/2012 5:31:54 PM

Thanks, Nebraska Dave! I'm the new web editor here at GRIT as well, so I'm immersing myself in this world as best I can :) I'm glad to have a platform to share my struggles and triumphs with you all! Thanks for reading!


nebraska dave
7/12/2012 10:33:27 PM

Natalie, welcome to the GRIT blogging community. I admire your determination to follow in your ancestors footsteps. It won't be easy nor will it make you wealthy but there's just something about a functioning homestead that just feels right. I'm from German heritage as well but my ancestors settled in Nebraska. I spent time away during my early adult years of life but returned home (Nebraska) in my late twenties and vowed never to move away again. I'm now retired and in my 60s and still take that vow seriously. In my humble opinion the midwest is the greatest place to live on the planet. I look forward to hearing about your return to Kansas homesteading. Have a great day following your dream.


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