Me? A Farmer?

I have spent several weeks on vacation and it has been great.  I have been able to reconnect with my kids and my wife and have recovered a lot of my sanity.  I like to take time and think about where I have been, what I have done, read, seen, and who I have become every now and then.  These last few years have been pretty rough and I haven’t really been in a position to spend a lot of time thinking.  Thankfully I was able to do that during this vacation too.

Funny enough… my heart seems to be drawn to farming.  I’ve kicked that idea around before, but really just as a daydream, kill some time, “wouldn’t it be fun if…” kind of thoughts.  I readily recognize that those thoughts are very romanticized and not an accurate depiction of what that life would look like.

I want to share my current thoughts with y’all.

Talents and Gifts

I think that I am a charismatic person, communicate well, establish healthy team cultures, teach well, and lead well.  I really enjoy meeting with people and talking about life.  I enjoy sharing my life with people and encouraging them through hard times or helping them put the broken pieces of their hearts back together.  The vision of my life is that I will live to see the broken hearts bound up, the wounded healed, and the captives set free.  I have poured my heart and soul into this vision and have seen some really cool things in the lives of other people.  Jessica and I have seen infidelity in marriages be replaced with tenderness and genuine love between husband and wife.  We have seen men who were abused as kids, harboring anger and ill will towards their abusers, gain the ability to forgive their abusers, let go of their bitterness, find healing, and develop healthy relationships with those around them.  Jesus has brought me into people’s lives and given me the gifts needed to see so many people helped.

I am concerned that, should I actually start farming, I will no longer be able to invest these gifts as I would like.  All of those things involved people.  Lots of time with people.  I wonder how much time I will actually have with people if we end up moving to a farm after retirement.  I don’t know if I am ready to let go of what I thought the future investments of my life would look like.

Leisure and Adventure

I really love being deep in the wilderness.  By far my favorite hobby is hunting.  Not from a tree stand over a food plot, but after getting deep into the mountains and glassing hillsides and valleys.  I have always pictured my future being one in which we live a suburban life, almost constant contact with people, with relatively long breaks of wilderness time for me.  Camping trips with the family for a week at a time, road trips across a state or 2 to go hunting and fishing with a couple of guys, drive half way across the country to canoe or kayak some epic river.

I am concerned that with a farm, I will not be able to have these adventures.  The farm work must go on.  I know this is probably not that big of a deal, but in my head, the planner that I am, it is a concern on the list.  Who will watch the farm, milk the cows, feed the chickens and hogs, while I am out gallivanting around the wilderness?  How will I afford these trips?  It isn’t a secret… Farming is not a great money making enterprise!   The kind of farming I am thinking about… even less so.  I don’t know if I am read to give up what my future adventures would look like.

Family and Friends

The lines between family and friends for Team Hitefield have been blurred for Jessica and I so many times.  I have driven myself to the edge of tears while contemplating where we will live.  I have no “roots”.  I was born in one place, raised across several states, crossed the major milestones of my development and honed my identity literally around the world.  Those who hold the strings which weave the very fabric of my being are stretched from California to Washington, from Maine to Florida.   How can I possibly commit to owning a piece of land and a group of structures that will keep me permanently tied to a single spot.  Simultaneously basking in the warmth of deepening relationships with those who are near us while being parched by the distance from those far away.  Having grown accustomed to moving and making epic cross country road trips every couple  years, I don’t know if I am ready to give up the relationships which have been placed on hold.

Farming, as Jessica and I think about it, is so vastly different from anything we have ever thought about or planned before.  Living in town, working as a counselor, leading small groups and teams of volunteers in the community, and drifting from place to place was a comforting blanket for me.  The idea of picking a spot on the ground, raising a house, and plunging my roots feels cold.

… and is maddeningly exciting.

We may not do this at all.  But it is very much a stir in my heart at the moment.

I will write again in a few days and post the ideas that Jessica and I have about the farm itself.  We have already gotten the question, “What kind of farm”  and “What will you be farming” several times.  This next post will explain all of that.

2 thoughts on “Me? A Farmer?”

  1. As a man who grew up in a farming community I’d just like to dispelled a few myths I think your planning mind is formulating. First, some of the most awesome community leaders I’ve ever seen were farmers. I guess it depends on the farm. A very basic agrarian type farm would make things difficult, especially depending upon the size. However, a smaller, more niche farm would serve you better for many reasons. First, you know nothing about farming. I mean “know” here as in its not in your blood. You weren’t born with an awesome connection to the dirt. You don’t walk on the sweat and blood and tears and memories of your great grandfather. I know many men who do. They are driven by their history. You don’t have history. You should start small to establish it. Second, hard farming on a larger scale is a young man game. Forty in the farming game isn’t useless by any means but you also aren’t conditioned for hard labor either. Besides, those men supervise hard work instead of doing it. They have so much experience that they have an eye for what needs to be done. I’ve seen strong men break their backs thinking they areally 25. Overloading yourself is something you should be concerned with.
    Farmers make time to hunt. Usually big game in the fall after harvest (depending on the crop and scale of the operation). You’ll have plenty of time and motivation to get out there and get your tags filled. You won’t be going every weekend like some people but it will make it that much sweeter when you do. We would literally end school early in my hometown just for elk season. Where there is a will there is a way.
    You’re faced with a family and friend delemna no matter where you land. You need to deprogram your moving instinct. I caught the bug when I was in the service and often get the itch. I look at it as a chance to enjoy sanctification. Always looking to the next. Always looking to the beyond and the greener grass (even if that greener grass is just the move itself) shows a lack of concern and thankfulness with the place God has you. If God wants you in a pit of the earth feeding soup to dying people then you better concentrate on that and not be living, in your head, at the next thing. If God wants you farming and being with those in a small community, bound tight, then you’d better keep your heart and mind on your work and that community instead of thinking of how to fit the irregular life and experiences you’ve had with a life like farming. The military life is incompatible with the farming. You’re going to have to put one life down to pick up the other. But ties are deep in farming communities. I was third generation in my town and I was considered new. You learn to speak the language of relationships in a deep way with considering more than the past five minutes. You try to appreciate how a person was formed with a hundred years informing you.
    So, the take away is multiple. First, don’t chew off more than you can chew. If you’re awesome and don’t have enough work then expand. But if you pour your life into something which is and was always bigger than you it will break you in more ways than one. Leisure time will be available. It won’t be constant. It will be something to look forward to. If you can’t handle that then you shouldn’t think of farming. Friends and family are not as plentiful in small communities but are deeper. You need to learn to let go of the unrealistic way you’ve built relationships in the past and focus on going deep in a community if you want to be a farmer.

    1. Thanks so much for the reply. I really appreciate the tie in with Sanctification. I remember thinking about that at one of my earlier duty stations. If I constantly count down the time to the next PCS and EAS, then what have I done with my life and what have I missed in the here and now. Being content and having a long term focus instead of a “do all I can in the next 3 years” mentality will be hard to change. I’m glad I am not the only one who has felt and fought with that!

      When I talk about farming, I know it is not at all on the scale of what you were surrounded with in Idaho (though that is exactly what I would like to do!) I’m looking at a very small market farm. Handful of cows, a couple dozen chickens, a few pigs… the entire farm being less than 10 or 15 acres. I’m shopping for 40 or more because I want some woods and some hunting area on my own land.

      Something in your summary caught me off guard though… “You need to learn to let go of the unrealistic way you’ve built relationships in the past and focus on going deep in a community if you want to be a farmer.” Could you help me understand what is unrealistic in the way that I have built relationships in the past? Depth and community was my driving desire while in Washington, and as far as I know, I did well with that. I did not have many friends in Washington, but the ones I had were intimate. If you have seen or heard or felt something from me, or from those around me, that raises a flag regarding the way I build and maintain relationships, then please let me know what it is. I really would hate to be harming those around me without realizing it. Thanks again for the reply.

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