I grew up in suburban New Jersey, and the closest I ever came to a cow in my youth was petting one through the fence at a neighboring county’s annual agricultural fair. Our people were not farmers. Our people were businessmen who commuted to the city each morning, or teachers, or, well, the sort of people who didn’t get their hands dirty. Manual labor was frowned upon. Our high school education prepared us to go to college, and from there, we were expected to move into business or computer science. What can I say? It was the eighties.
I, personally, was not interested in either of those career paths. I happily married my young soldier and gave up trying to do whatever they expected of me. I settled down to raising our family and helping my man be all he could be. We were happy, and when it came time to retire, Dave fulfilled a life-long dream of mine and bought us a little farm near Fort Knox.
My dad was not pleased. He grew up on a farm with eight brothers and sisters, and he strongly associates farming with poverty. He tried mightily to discourage us, and I must admit he has a point. Any sort of agricultural endeavor is a lot of physical labor, a lot of time spent managing and troubleshooting, and a lot of time spent trying to market your product, with very little cash coming in to make up for it. It’s really helpful to have some other kind of income.
I don’t want to discourage anybody, though. It’s some of the best work a person could choose to do. Although we dabble in many things, our bread-and-butter (well, just butter) is a small-scale dairy. We milk those cows twice a day, every single day, no matter the weather, or the importance of the holiday on the calendar, or even our health. You’d think that would get tedious, but it doesn’t. It’s just part of the routine, like morning coffee, or taking a shower, or changing the baby’s diaper. We just do it, every day, no matter what.
In exchange for our dedication, we’ve gained physical strength and improved overall health, nutritious and relatively inexpensive food, and an excuse to stay home. (I will admit, though, to occasionally longing to travel! The Army life dies hard.)
I thank God every day for this little piece of Earth, for the beautiful cows He so graciously provided at just the right moment, and for the family I live this life for and with. I wouldn’t change a thing.