Gene Logsdon and Friends

Why I Farm: Chiara Dowell

In Guest Posts, Why I Farm (or Homestead) on July 11, 2011 at 9:03 am

From CHIARA DOWELL
Little Flower Farm CSA

Sometimes when I’m covered in mud, smell like a mixture of whey and pig manure, can’t close my blistered fingers, and am too exhausted to fix anything but a bowl of snap peas for dinner I wonder why I’m farming.

But upon reflection, I realize I farm because it means I get covered in mud, smell like whey and pig doo, can’t close my aching hands for all the blisters and get to feast on fresh peas from the garden.

I grew up in the middle of the city in a townhouse on a street with a clump of 3 pine trees down the road… which I was afraid to go near for fear I’d get lost in the woods. The leap to farming was just that… a mad wild leap. One I never would have had the courage to make had I not given birth to my first daughter. We watched her grow, and desired a life we could live with her. And with eachother.

So now I get to be five everyday. Sometimes that means tantrums in the field using words I never used before I began this crazy tousle with the earth.

But most times it means kissing dairy goats on their noses, picking peas, and packing CSA shares. And as we go along, our love affair with the land and with eachother seems to get more passionate… like those funky french films, one minute we’re slapping eachother, the next we’re in eachother’s arms.

Recently I was having anxiety about my status as a farmer. When we first married I thought I was signing up for a life of perpetual homemaking, and perhaps some canning and jam making. You know the type: ready at the door in a red plaid apron holding a basket of farm fresh eggs and an armful of blueberry muffins. Now I find I’m a full time field hand, and although I can’t get enough of it, there are times (like when the girls go to bed without a much needed bath) when I feel neglectful of my first calling as a wife and mother…

But today, just as these thoughts circled about in my head, a visiting friend remarked on the evident happiness of our children. “I’ve never seen kids so happy” she said.

Hit me like a thunderbolt.

Farming makes you incredibly aware of your failings. You find you can drag 4 stock panels, but not 5. You’re a match for the hogs, but not for the broody hen… you can work for hours under a hot sun… but only with the knowledge of a freezer back home well stocked with icecream. A 4-acre field of vegetables does a very good job of constantly pointing out your vices…

But through all that, as you are taking the daily spoonful (or shovelful) of humiliation, you find yourself getting stronger, better with every day you farm… you find to your surprise that it’s working, you are succeeding.

Because the farm farms you.
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  1. Wonderful post, Chiara! And boy, are you right about the way we learn our limitations — my most recent come-uppance was the milk cow running over me to get away from the stallion. Knocked me flat on my back. At least she didn’t poop on me as she went over!

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