Confession: I grew up on a farm, but when I was a teenager, and when I was in college, I had no intentions of living on one. I have always loved animals, that has never changed, but I went through some changes in my views of farm life. I remember as a teenager, I had to plan my time out with my friends and sleepovers around time to worm the goats or around time to get up hay. I wasn’t super thrilled to share those experiences at school, since it doesn’t really make you the cool kid if you say you spent the weekend wrangling goats. I wasn’t the cool kid, and I never felt like I had to be, but I also didn’t want to be the weird goat girl.
I went off to college and still didn’t know what I wanted to be, or where I wanted to live when I grew up, but i knew I didn’t want to go back to my hometown! Anywhere but there. I imagined myself and then-boyfriend perhaps living in a subdivision somewhere, maybe with an acre or two. I never liked being on top of people. I was going to dress up for work, come home, go out to dinners, etc.
Things happen. Said significant other and I split up after my first year out of college after a long relationship, and I came back home to live with my parents for a year and lick my wounds. Not for long, I stressed to everyone. Just a year, and then I’d probably move to a city where my friends lived.
Seven years later…I am still here. Well, not AT my parents’ farm. I bought my own house in the country with six acres, and I wish it was further out. I go out to the farm all the time. As a high school teacher, I REALLY don’t care how cool I am, and am happy to tell them about my childhood chasing goats and my adulthood canning pickles and chasing chickens. I say y’all and don’t try to hide my southern accent.
What bothers me is the stereotype of “country folk.” I hear the term “ignorant” and “backwards” associated with farm folks all the time, along with redneck and trash. Though like any stereotype, I am sure there are those who fill the bill, but that isn’t everyone! It makes me really angry because even as a kid when I was concerned that maybe my weekend activities weren’t cool, I never thought it made me stupid.
People who homestead or work on a farm, whether for fun or for a living, are brave folks. That is not a job for the faint of heart, not if you are going to do it right. It takes a lot of determination and grit to battle the elements for the harvest, to go out even when you’re tired, even on a hot day, to weed the garden. In the winter, the farmer has to go out and feed the animals regardless of how many feet fall. When it is quite cold, he has to go out multiple times a day to break the ice so the animals have something to drink.
It isn’t everyone who thinks this of course, but I have heard over the years disparaging comments that just “burn my biscuits” every time. Yes, we had squirrel for a family meal the other day, Yes, I like to ride on the back of a pick up truck. I also have two graduate degrees. I like my dialect AND my Dickens, thank you very much.
Sigh. Well, it took me a few years’ hiatus to come back to homesteading; perhaps everyone else will wisen up too. Everyone can’t be as quick as us country folk. 😉