The most self-torturous thing I do is to take a drive through farmland. Especially farmland with plenty of sparkling streams and stone barns from the 1700’s and farmhouses that have hosted many a human story over hundreds of years. If there is a summer kitchen AND a functioning pump house AND a spring house, I near choke on my longing. If there are lambs frolicking about I am undone.
There’s something so wrong in it and I don’t see a way to fix it; when a county that is bursting at the seams with banks and shopping centers keeps paving over prime farmland in the name of more of them. I just look at that good dirt, those wide sweeps of it, acres of it, that could keep on feeding us and supporting a family, and I think acerbic thoughts and half-sentences about the businessmen who see every bit of open ground as a financial opportunity rather than the treasure that it is, just as it is. All for ANOTHER Chipotle or a Staples or a (shudder) Walmart?
And what of the farmers whose families through the generations have been sustained by the land, and suddenly in their retirement years they decide to parcel off their inheritance to developers, to be hacked into grids of streets, peppered with homes, and never again to be a farm? Do they consider what they received? And how many would love to take up their yoke and earn their bread that way, but because developers can offer so much they can’t even buy five acres?
So, no farm for us, leastwise here in Lancaster County. And no chickens, no goats; our township having some prejudice against animals that actually produce something usable. It is nonsensical. But so is paving over farmland, so the course must be set. Dogs? That you have to haul in feed for and pick up poop for, poop which isn’t fit for composting but must be hauled out with the trash? Sure, as many as you want! Chickens? That feast on bugs, mosquito larvae, weeds; who break down leaves into fine compost, who turn kitchen scraps into delicious eggs, whose manure benefits the gardens? No, none of those.
I am aware I am ranting.
Switching course…. In my non-farm of now there’s still a lot of learning and living and production happening on our little .33 acre. This spring will see three beehives up and running (Lord willing), three elderberry bushes, three grapevines, two apple trees, a peach tree, a nectarine tree, blueberries and strawberries, rhubarb, and a whole garden full of produce and herbs. There will be clothes on the line, jars in the canner, and herbs in the dehydrator. There will be kids in the mud, sticks that were swords and harpoons strewn about, and slowly rusting bikes in varying degrees of disrepair. There will be life, cultivated right in the teeth of weeds and deferred hopes and expensive farmland and zoning ordinances.