I get asked loads of questions from the folks that come here to do a farm tour or immerse themselves on the farm for a few days–but certain questions…. always seem to have the repeat button pressed. Usually about halfway through my hour long farm tour and talk about how we got started–folks begin to unconsciously shake their head back and forth and ask more questions. The first one almost always is, “So… did you get raised on a farm?” It is always asked incredulously–as if they simply cannot believe we would have come up with living this way on our own. We must have been born into it somehow or we wouldn’t have chosen this. My answer over the years has been, “Well, my grandparents had a large scale cotton, soybean, and tobacco farm–and I spent a good amount of time with them as a kid. As much as I loved them and it–it was conventional and observing large scale farming didn’t really help me much with homesteading organically or starting to go off the grid. Well, other than already being used to the dirt. Now that being said, almost every woman in my family was a teacher and almost every man was farmer–so I do feel like it was in my blood to be a farm based educator here. And my wife never lived on a farm at all… this was all my nutty idea in the beginning! But we are both North Carolina born and bred, through and through so at least we feel like we understand the land.” To that, their heads start to shake double time until the tour is about done.
Well, after yesterday–I think I’ll have to amend my answer. I came home from a very emotional day at school and rolled back onto the farm. Not wanting to talk to anyone, I figured I would busy myself for a few minutes checking messages and emails. I picked up the receiver to find the world’s sweetest voicemail on the farm’s phone–from a woman in our community that I just love to absolute bits. I’m going to need way more than a 20 second hug to make up for the depth of emotion I reached over a message I sure needed to hear. See, sad students, that I know I made that way by me telling them I was departing–had me majorly teary eyed and second guessing myself big time when I returned to the farm yesterday.
She spoke of a podcast she had heard, about getting raised on a farm and it made her think about us and what we are doing. She said that she heard a woman say, “Sure, I got raised on a farm–but really, the farm raised me.” She told us how awesome it was of what we were doing, how much we were helping the community with all the things we do here, and…. she told us, she is so proud of what we are doing and to call us her friends. Whoa.
Way to knock my muck boots off there lady!! I listened to it twice and then a third time as she said, “Think about all you are raising there. Sure, you are raising vegetables and animals–but you are also raising relationships and skills for our community. And… you are raising yourself–to new heights.”
It’s so true. I got raised on a farm and it sure raised me–Eight Owls Farmstead. I found out who I was here and who I could be. I have learned more here than I ever did in college or graduate school. Sure, I shrunk here… but I grew here too! 😉 I became a stronger woman on this farm, hoeing rows of confidence and capability that get a little longer every year–as I listen to other people less and myself more. I dug into the dirt and watched my anxieties about life and myself start to fall away. Many of the things I’d been told, got disproven here too–things folks told me when I was a kid that girls couldn’t… wouldn’t… shouldn’t do. I’ve watched myself grow up here, into the kind of human I’d always wanted to be but didn’t know how to be. I’ve watched my marriage grow, strong and tall like late summer corn. At least for us, farming together sure does send tap roots way on down into your heart and makes the two of you truly come together as one. You may fuss from time to time about where to plant them trees you just bought-–but in the end, you will agree and it will get done one way or ‘nother. Sure we raise animals and grow vegetables here–but I also watch youngins grow here too. Excited eighth graders betting each other on if seeds will grow on straw bales and running wheelbarrows filled with compost up the mountain; adorable young couples with strong backs and big homestead dreams; women who may have a little extra weight or a lot of extra anxieties; hosting female educators teaching a new subject matter for the first time–I’m so incredibly blessed I get sit back and watch all these things grow. And let me tell you, it sure is a sight to behold… seeing just how much can grow on this farm if I just give it some space to and water a little with something as simple as my positive attitude and never ending optimism about what people are capable of doing and being.
That’s what I farm here, it is what I do and who I am. I am The Farmer who raises organically grown education, experiences, products and food at Eight Owls Farmstead. And I do it, because I got raised right here on this farm–and if someone like the person I used to be can grow so tall and strong here…. anyone can.
A big ol’ thanks to our community and the folks that support us so – we couldn’t do any of this as well as we do without your support, wonderful words and kind hearts. YOU make us proud to call Transylvania County the only place we would ever want to call home! If you want to arrange a visit to the nest–email me!
Taking the bets of them eighth graders I mentioned – will the straw bale we seeded last Thursday grow? We don’t know – but will soon! (the turtle class bets as they stand – three say yes, but not well. one says no)
We are hosting a couple of WWOOFers that are here immersing themselves in farm life for eight days. Riley and Kelsey are the only ones we have agreed to host this spring–as we are pretty busy this season on our own. But, I can’t tell you how grateful we are to have met such amazing young folks and have them visit our farm. We are just crazy about the two of them, the big adventure they are on, and how deep their dreams and desires to exist the the world in a different way run.
Even though the Forager tells me all the time I’m wrong… I spend a lot of time thinking I must not do a very good job hosting these young folks–because I so rarely hear from them all after they go…but see their presence on the farm every single day in the energy they left behind. I know, I know… I’m well aware them youngins got WAY too big a job ahead of them anyways–changing the world we live in and all!! I know it is hard to squeeze in time to squeeze in time to pen a couple of owls a letter and find a stamp! 😉 Then of course, I always I forget that they show me when they are here. By building places for hot showers or gardens to grow, muscles, and mindsets. And I must be doing something right, these awesome young folks asked to cook us dinner last night! These two visited India last year–Kelsey had loads to say about how intense it was to be a woman, farm, and live in India that I’d never even thought of before and they learned how to make some seriously unbelievable chicken curry!!!