Friday, February 29, 2008

A Country Life

I come from a farming, gardening family going back generations. My great-great grandparents farmed in Nebraska, as did my great-grandparents . My grandparents had their little 40 acre farm in the Ozarks, the setting of some of my fondest childhood memories.

My grandfather had degrees in journalism and horticulture. Like so many college-educated women of her generation, Grandma studied home economics. Grandma had grown up on the family farm, Grandpa was the son of immigrants and grew up in New York City. He dreamed his whole life of being a farmer. Finally as their children were becoming young adults and economics allowed, they made that dream come true with the purchase of the little farm and orchard in the beautiful Ozark Mountains.

My mom and stepfather live partially off their own land on 68 acres with woods, meadows, wildlife, fruit trees, berry bushes and brambles, perennial gardens, and huge vegetable gardens where they grow and preserve a bounty that sees them through each year from harvest to harvest.

Although they own enough acreage for livestock, they limit their production to fruits and vegetables. They buy most of their meat, dairy, and eggs from Amish and organic farmers in their community, and other staples through local co-ops and buying clubs. In doing so they help support and sustain the local farming economy.

Because so much of it is undeveloped and unfarmed, their small piece of heaven on earth is mostly a wild and beautiful flora and fauna preserve existing unmolested and unharmed much as it would have long before Columbus.

They participate in an ecologically-sound forestry management program. They re-use, recycle, or compost most of the little bit of waste they generate. They are shining examples of organic gardening, buying local, supporting this country's endangered family farming culture, and sustainable, energy-conscious, environmentally sound living, and they get to live here:

This is a bit of my heritage which may serve to illuminate my recently recurring fantasy of a country life. My kids, at least for now, live reasonably close. Two of them are in the city about an hour away, and one is closer about 30 minutes away in the suburbs. Two of my three girls have started families. I have one grandchild and counting. In part because it's hard to imagine living any further away from my daughters and my grandchildren, it's hard to think about pursuing that country life fantasy.

Yet there's a deep part of me dreaming of a country life. Is it nature or nurture? I guess it's a bit of both. And it seems it's something I've passed on to at least one of my daughters, who like me and generations before us, long for country life.

My mom and stepfather, and grandparents weren't much older than me, and like me, their kids were grown and mostly on their own, when they took the plunge and made their country-life dreams come true.

For now and for the foreseeable future my country dreams will remain dreams. Sometimes though, a familiar yearning takes hold. . . And on February days like this, when it's too cold to work it out in my suburban back yard garden, it can be palpable.


  1. Garden Girl you have some of those journalist genes too. I love the way you write. Good luck in your business venture. It will be interesting to see if you have time to blog while getting up and running. Maybe you can share some of your quirky clients with us. tee hee... I just love people. I think everyone is so intersting. Of course some can be difficult but hey it makes you appreciate everyone else.

    I too was a city girl that wanted to be in the country with grands and cousins all the time. I lived out of town for 15 years and then came to where I live now with my husband. As you can see my shade has just been thrown into lots of sunshine. It will be a big change for me. I have become allergic to the sun in my old age. Isn't that a kick in the pants??

  2. Those are two of my favorite photographs of our home area. The snow scene was in early spring three years ago, so the trees are just beginning to show leaf growth. The morning sun lighting them from behind, and the sun trace on the snow made the light magical. The little fruit trees hadn't yet produced anything. But, last year we got several pounds of our very, own peaches and a few apples. And, behold, spring is on it's way this year, too. My seed catalogs have arrived, and I'm garden-dreaming after a long winter rest.

  3. Lisa, thank you so much! Your comments mean a lot to me. I hear you about quirky clients! I have worked with all kinds of quirkiness and my share of difficult people.

    I usually actually enjoy the challenge and almost always win people over. (It must be my snake-charmer genes :) )

    I really feel for you losing so much of your shade, especially with a sun allergy. That s*cks golfballs! A sun allergy is a huge kick in the pants for a gardener.

    Mom, Thank you for letting me share them! It's so pretty in your neck of the woods, I don't think I've seen a picture of the place I didn't like. I'm still sorry I didn't bring my camera when we visited last time!

  4. Those are beautiful pictures of a wonderful place. I hope you can make your dreams come tree and find your spot in the country, and still keep your family close.

    I agree with Lisa, you do have those journalist genes. Now what is this business venture she mentions?

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  5. Oh, thank you Carol! I appreciate the feedback! I find I'm enjoying writing. I've done a lot of writing in my career, boring stuff like policies and manuals and training. I used to journal, although haven't done that in years.

    The business venture is explained a bit on my profile. After years in corporate America, I'm seriously considering starting a business of my own, and have been working on that for the past several months.

    I live in a fairly affluent area where homeowners typically use landscapers and gardeners for their lawn care and garden maintenance. I know of several gardeners in the area who combine gardening, consulting, and coaching are able to be self-supporting in their own businesses. I worked with one of them last season. Even though I would be her 'competition,' she has encouraged me to go for it and feels there's more than enough business to go around.

    After years of working in corporate America, I feel I can combine my business and gardening experience and knowledge to start my own business. I'm seriously considering going in that direction.

    Too young to retire, yet having a hard time facing the idea of returning to the kinds of stresses working in corporate America brings. I continue to research the field, have begun working in the business locally, am establishing a business network, and already have my first client.

    I still have a foot in both doors -corporate America and a gardening business of my own, as I figure out which is the best direction for me to pursue. Of course, I realize in order to be successful, I've got to commit to one or the other!

  6. This was my first visit to your blog but I already know it won't be the last one.

    What beautiful photos and I love reading your posts.

    I too yearn for the country, but also am tied to my daughters and in my case, a husband who has no "country" at all in him.

  7. Lovely blog! I also have "country yearnings" & can't decided whether it's nature vs. nurture. I'm adding you to my "Usual Suspects" list. You should consider joining Blotanical.

  8. Thank you Melanie and Mr. McGregor's daughter for visiting my blog and for your kind comments.

    I suspect there may be lots of gardeners like us living in cities and suburbs and dreaming of a country life. Sigh. . .

    I really love both your blogs!

    Every time a garden blogger I admire stops by here to comment I feel honored.

    I had no idea there even was a garden-blogging community, having only 'discovered' blogs of any sort in the last three months.

    I look forward to reading more of your blogs and getting to know you!

  9. Anonymous9:03 PM

    where in Nebraska were your family from?


  10. Hi Shirley, thanks for visiting! The family farms were near Lincoln, in Tecumseh, and I think in Sterling too.

  11. shirley1:01 PM

    we live ar Ainsworth, Ne in north central Nebraska and having really hot weather here we need some rain but forget the storms that we can have with the rain.
    enjoy you writing



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