The Quest for Meaningful Work in Rural Living


Rural farmsThis week I was reading through my old GRIT magazines one last time before passing them on to a friend.  An article on the Homestead Act of 1863 caught my eye with some interesting statistics.

According to this author, “most of the 33 million schoolchildren today have never set foot on a farm; only two of every 100 Americans now live on a farm, and less than 1% of the 300 million people in our country claim farming as their occupation.”

“For heaven’s sake,” I thought in response. “Why is it that hundreds of families in this area are buying rural lots and building ranchettes?”  I reflected that this and surrounding counties are covered with rural homes. “What, then, are these folks seeking?  Privacy?  Freedom from regulation? More room? Perceived quiet?” rural chicks 

The reasons are endless, I’m sure.  Many I personally know like animals, especially horses, chickens and dogs.  Others like to garden.  One guy I know likes to drive his tractor and “work.”

Whatever the reason, rural living seems to fit, in some way, each person’s definition of “the good life” – just like our homesteading ancestors.

It seems to me the rural quest revolves around “Work” and what we believe is meaningful work.  Our ancestors knew farming occupations, weather it was growing wine grapes or pigs.  Another generation combined industrial work with continued rural or small town self-sufficient practices.  Even today in France and England, families continue to be largely self-sufficient and in America self-sufficiency has been re-discovered with enthusiasm.  Some view it as economic survival.

4/20/2013 2:42:40 PM

Captivating blog! I was raised in a rural community, now a live in a city where it's like a prison. I wish I have a farm job or a land to start to raise animal and cultivate crops just like the way it was when growing up. contact me at

10/26/2012 1:12:39 PM

My home town (population 700) also had farming residents. At a minimum there were rabbits and chickens. In my current neighborhood, which is an old development, the lots are large and one neighbor keeps a couple of horses. I wake each morn to anothers rooster's crow. There is currently a renewed interest in 4-H here and kids are raising animals and gardens again. I can't help believe it is "natural" to want to grow things.

10/25/2012 7:36:57 PM

Joan, you are so right about the migration of folks from country living to city living. Without land there is no way to survive if the worst happens. World War II brought folks back to the gardens even though they lived in the city. Growing up in the city for me was in a neighborhood where rabbits, chickens, and other animals were grown for income purposes. City dwellers today would consider that animal cruelty and the property owner would be given a fine. We had a person in our city who just couldn't afford the fee to take his old ailing dog to the vet to have it put down, fined because allegedly he put the dog out of it's misery and buried it in the back yard. He claimed the dog died a natural death but the judge decided other wise and presented him with a fine. We have gotten so far away from our heritage roots of survival that it will be our downfall. City folks have gotten so far away from where there food comes from that they don't recognize that death has to happen to be able to eat those nunuggetsrom the fast food window. Sorry I didn't mean to rant. Have a great day in the garden.

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