Thirty years after getting a degree in agricultural economics, and after decades living both the highs and lows of the American Dream and nearly a decade as an aspiring writer and historian, I’m actually moving to a farm. I’m going to keep a record of the move and the new life on these pages.
Unlike many of the old farmers and sustainable living folks whose books I’ve been reading, who’ve been practicing their lifestyle for two or three decades, we’re newbies. My family and I haven’t been living the life, raising free range chickens since we were kids; so our experiences getting our first batch of chicks later this summer will be fresh and our learning process will be happening as we report it, not something imperfectly remembered from ages ago. We’ll be making discoveries daily, rather than trying to remember what it felt like and what we might have wanted to know, back when we began. From that perspective, sharing our excitement and learning from our mistakes might be useful to our readers.
Since we’re trying to make life changes that are directly related to how we understand the world, its history, and our place in it, there will be some theory from time to time. The idea is that the unexamined life isn’t worth living, but also that the ideals we don’t act on aren’t really the ones we hold most firmly. At some point, if you’re lucky, you get a chance to put your money where your mouth is. This is us taking that chance.
I’m going to write about our family farming experiences, and also about my other work (I was going to say my “day job,” but one of the coolest things about this change is I’m no longer sure which is which!) as a writer and historian. A big part of my history work revolves around regular people in rural settings, so this will also find its way into these pages. History influences the present in ways as trivial as our choice of poultry breeds, and as important as our choice to leave the suburban East Coast and live on a Midwestern sustainable farm. This mixture of present, past, and future – like the attempt to balance farm work, reading, and writing – will be a big element of my project. Hopefully, they’ll result in material people will find interesting and useful.