Every now and then, I become possessed by a strong urge to sell our house in the town and buy a farm. I don’t mean a big commercial farm, but a large piece of land with space to garden and keep small animals, like chickens. I really, really want chickens, ever since my brothers started operating their egg business (please see A Saga of Feathered Fowl). Even more than that, I want to learn how to grow vegetables, which would be in keeping with my enjoyment of preparing food from scratch and shopping locally. What could be more satisfying than taking responsibility for my very own food production?
Whenever I suggest this idea to my husband, he shakes his head. “No way” is his standard response. He’s a boy born of quintessential suburbia, raised in the concrete sprawl of Mississauga, outside of Toronto, where all the houses look alike and the central focal point is a gigantic mall. (He gets very defensive whenever I say this, so maybe my narrow description is somewhat unfair.) His experience of wilderness was a week-long camping trip each summer.
I, on the other hand, am a child of the forest, raised on a lake in northern Ontario with no year-round neighbours and wilderness all around. I’ve seen more than my fair share of bears, moose, wolves, owls, and beaver over the years, and I can stack firewood like nobody’s business. Every few months, I’d have an “urban experience” when my parents took me to the city for certain big events. I’d sit rigidly in the back seat, wide eyes glued to the window as I counted transport trucks, read billboards, spied on the speedometer that reached speeds I’d never seen before, and breathed in the pollution that smelled quite exotic to my unaccustomed nose.
As a result, our notions of normalcy are drastically different. The fact that we’ve settled in a small town is entirely coincidental – the side-effect of getting a job in this area, and not something that either of us would have necessarily chosen. It’s all too rural for his liking and almost too urban for my tastes. If I can’t live downtown Toronto (which I did grow to love, thanks to university), I’d prefer to be on my imaginary farm, surrounded by acres of forest and field, with a pond thrown in to boot, a well-tilled patch of growing veggies, and those feathery little hens, just clucking and pecking around the yard… I can already see them in my mind.
Despite my rural roots, I’m not really the farming type. I know next to nothing about gardening; I’m scared to weed because I really don’t know what to pull up. I have aspirations to dig up my front lawn and make a garden, but don’t know where to start. Sometimes I worry I’m not “earthy” enough to be a farmer. After all, my makeup bag goes everywhere with me, and so does my hair straightener. Is there such thing as a dressed-up, made-up farmer lady, I wonder?
While the farming dream is unlikely to materialize any time in the near future, I will continue to dream and prod my husband about it when I’m feeling particularly feisty. I think it’s a good idea, to put ourselves in a position where it’s possible to grow food and raise animals if necessary – not that I’m expecting some apocalyptic disaster that will cut us off from food suppliers any time soon, but just because I like the idea of being more in touch with the earth.
I guess I’m getting “earthier” already!