Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dreams of Agriculture

I just finished reading Anne of Green Gables. I grew up watching those movies and they hold such a warm spot in my heart. It was my first time reading any of the books. I frequently laughed out loud. Anne's revelings are so ridiculous and yet part of me wishes I was more easily delighted like she is. I think I shall have to read the next book because there was hardly any headway in the area of Anne and Gilbert in this one!

L.M. Montgomery's description of the rural town of Avonlea not only left me with a firm resolve to visit the beautiful Prince Edward Island someday, but has reminded me of a major goal I have in my life. I have always loved being in nature. And sometime after high school it got so that almost nothing could charm me more than the sight of a farm, a windmill, a garden or the smell of hand-made soap. I don't know if it was bike rides with my family through the agricultural district on Green Valley Road, time on my grandma's property eating honey from her own bee hives, or buying a bar of pear oatmeal soap in a little tourist town called Idaho Springs, but my soul is drawn to agriculture. Reading of the orchards fields and forests in Avonlea leaves my heart yearning for a life like that.

My Grandma's Property in the late Fall

I have a theory that being married to someone with similar values solidifies those values within yourself. You have someone to validate you, so your goals and dreams feed off each other. When I met my reserved engineering husband I didn't realize he would be one to dream of having land someday, but it turns out he is! We both have encouraged each other's desire to own land and live off of it as much as possible. We have so much fun talking about our dream home with chickens, a garden, and all kinds of inventions of his creation to bring us toward self-reliance.

It's interesting. As I was ending my college career, I found it very difficult to imagine myself in a job that could really make me happy. Not only did I not secure a dream job for myself post-graduation, I didn't even know what a dream job would be. But the happiness I feel when I think about living off the  land makes me wonder if that would fulfill me in a way no job could. It would definitely be a lot of work. I mean being a stay-at-home mom can easily be a full-time job, so I imagine taking care of land wouldn't be much less demanding. And yet I think the two would go very well together. As a stressed mother I think the outdoors would refresh me. And as our children get older they would of course learn to work outside as well. So I like envisioning myself in this lifestyle.

There is only one problem. I don't know anything about agriculture. I have a hard enough time keeping our house plants alive. Both of our fathers are engineers, I grew up in a large suburb, my husband grew up in an engineering town. That's not to say we don't have agricultural roots. My husband's grandparents on one side had land and a large garden, and his mother has quite a successful garden herself. On the other side his grandpa is a soil scientist. My dad was raised on 14 acres with a pond, horses, and at some point cows. My dad actually always dreamed of having land, but it just never happened for us. So it's almost like the dream has skipped a generation.

My husband and I are planning on making this happen for our family. But that will be many years down the road, after grad-school is over and a more steady income is coming in. I guess that gives me lots of time to learn about gardening! My first goal is to learn about plants that grow well inside and to have an herb garden this spring. This will require some research. I hope to gradually learn how to have a thriving garden of flowers and vegetables. I would love to have fruit trees and we hope to grow raspberries if the climate permits. My husband secretly wants to own a buffalo someday, but we'll see how we do with smaller animals first.

Fresh produce from my mother-in-law's garden last summer

It has been comforting to me to realize that while I may not have as many career goals as other girls my age, I do have a dream. The reality is, however, that my next adventure in life is raising children. I'm not sure I know any more about that than I do about growing cucumbers, but I will give it my best effort!