Thoughts of the farm have carried me through various rough patches over time. Despite my first-hand knowledge of the filth, stench, back-break, and wholesale death involved in genuine agriculture, I've longed idly for a farm of my own -- The Farm -- pretty much since I went to college.
I won't deny the escapism. I've sunk into the nerdy mechanics of daydream. Sometimes, it was about sketching the economics of a small-scale sheep operation, or reviewing the seasonal efforts one takes to improve the yield and quality of hay. Or perhaps a rethinking of opinion on the topic of chickens, or plotting how one might parlay an orchard of apple-trees into a living. The Farm. Sigh.
It's as harmless as any daydream, I suppose. Some people play Farmville.
The landscape of the North Country is all about farming -- at least it is to me. Whenever I visit my 4-H, Jefferson County Dairy Princess, General Brown Day, Shore Dinner roots, I have the impulse to locate The Farm within that real geography. Especially given how at every turn there's an example of the de-evolution of a family farm.
And so many of them for sale.
There's no call to point out that gap between reals and imaginary. It's one thing to while away fifteen minutes in voluptuous thought, another to muck out the barn. The difference is quite present to me: some aches and pains serve as souvenirs; and each winter, someone or another mentions that it has been a very long time since l had to scrape ice from the windshield or lift a shovel full of snow.
Choices have been made. I moved away and left the farm.
Still and all, gap or no gap, snow or no snow, I signed up for a distance-learning class this fall.
Ironically enough, it's an offering from Cornell, "Beginning Farming 101." The New York State Cooperative Extension and Cornell's Small Farm Program bill the class as "Creating a Farm to Match your Values, Goals, Skills, and Resources."
It starts on Monday.
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