I'm almost at the end of my annual look forwards and backwards (life vision, a retrospect into the year that was, and short-term goals for this new year). Today my mind drifts a little farther out - into the five- to ten-year horizon. The pictures are a little hazier out here - they're just blurry snapshots, rather than the vivid videography of what 2013 could look like.
I've been finding myself in a reverie about a farm more and more often. Not a large farm - just enough land to provide all that we need. In these utopian dreams we have everything we could ask for - land for a few animals to graze...a large garden...trees to provide firewood and a wonderful outdoor playspace and maybe even maple syrup if we're lucky... an orchard (or at least room for an orchard). Oh, did I mention the gentle brook that winds its way through the property? Or the charming century-old farmhouse? Or how there are gentle breezes in the summer to cool us and the winters don't get too cold - just a brief sprinkling of snow around Christmas time?
Yes, I think about this farm often - while folding laundry I wonder if there would be a point in raising sheep if I don't think there will be enough hours in the day to turn that wool into yarn...I drift off with pasturing chickens and collecting eggs on my mind as I do the dishes...I weigh the work of raising dairy animals against the work of maneuvering a heavy shopping cart through a busy supermarket, as the cart slides uncontrollably through the parking lot and the milk cartons fall from my cart into the snow.
Moving to a farm would be such a big leap it is in the category of unimaginable. We are city slickers through and through, and I suspect that helping butcher chickens at the tender age of 10 doesn't quite count as legitimate work experience. While I understand intellectually that the work would be backbreaking, the days would be long, and all the romance I've conjured up ignores the tedious chores to be done, I haven't experienced how close it can come to breaking one's spirit.
We're closer to 40 than 30 now, and I wonder whether these weak bodies could handle the rigors of farm life. I wonder how we could make it all work in every possible aspect of our lives. How can one inexperienced adult and her children do all that work? Where would this mythical farm be? Close to home? Far far away? How do we take care of aging folks? How do we maintain strong relationships between our children and their grandparents? How do we get the occasional alone time we need without those much-needed and appreciated supports?
So where does all that leave us? It leaves us with time to do more research about what is out there. It gives us time to look at our financial situation and brainstorm different scenarios for income. It leaves us time to find a mentor to teach us about how to do all those farming things we don't know how to do (or don't know exist). It leaves us time to slowly increase the scale of our own garden and teach our children how they can help it to grow, harvest it, and put it up for the winter. Perhaps in a few years, once Astrin is a little bigger, we can provide some labour in our own CSA, or perhaps we can use a family trip to become WWOOFer's.
Other dreams tend to come and go, often depending on imbalances in my life. I do dream of taking working holidays and volunteering to help those in need. I do sometimes think of getting back into my profession. I also sometimes think about honing my writing practice and seeing where it takes me. There's plenty of time for all these aspirations. For now, I'll keep moving in baby steps, keeping these larger hopes in the backdrop as I do my best to be mindful of the time at hand.