It's been coming for awhile. Yet I was still a little bit surprised and a lot sad to read The Bedlam Farm Journal today and find that Jon Katz has put his farm on the market. He has whittled away his livestock over the last year. This weekend the sheep and donkeys went to their new home. For now the chickens are going to stay as well as the two cats. And of course all 4 dogs.
In one of his recent posts Katz talked about his need to have a simpler life. That's funny, I thought to myself. In my mind, moving to a farm is a simpler way of life. It goes to show just how much I know about farming. If you read any of the Journal's winter posts, saw the pictures of snow and ice that wouldn't quit, and could imagine frozen mud and manure then you'd know that I should know that farming is probably anything but simple.
Still, I fantasize about running away to a farm.
Once in my life I wanted to run to the circus. Then I got a little too old, fat and arthritic to fly on a trapeze in a sequin suit. I might be able to pull off riding on an elephant's back in the opening parade, I'm just not sure about that Vegas-style head piece the ladies have to wear. It makes running away to join a circus sound more like work than fun.
Another time I seriously considered running away to Hawaii. I don't know what I thought I would do there but living the island life, wearing nothing but a muu muu and with a sweet-smelling flower behind my ear fulfilled some kind of exotic dream where all my problems would float on the ocean tide that gently rocked me to sleep.
Most of my running away fantasies have come and gone. I've learned enough about myself to know that running away is just another way of sticking my head in the sand or singing la la la. I've been in therapy long enough to know that running isn't the way to solve my problems. It's better to face them head on. It's when I'm faced with another pile of laundry, a broken down car or my father giving me the evil eye that the urge to run is hard to resist.
The problem is I'm sometimes too practical for my own good. Were I to move to a farm, with all my imagined amenities - a garden where I would pick my own salad and chickens to produce my breakfast it becomes quickly apparent that even in my dreams I'd be the one who had to do all the work. There is a good chance that Sweetie would be in charge of clearing the snow-covered (if we move north) or mud-soaked (if we stay south) driveway but I have no doubt that one of our first farm purchases would be a big ride-em tractor thingee just for that purpose. The manual labor part of farming is the usually the part I skip over to sit in a rocking chair on my big ass porch and watch the grass grow (or Sweetie cut it!) I really just want to be surrounded by green countryside and a way of life that doesn't feel so complicated. My genetic roots are shouting, "take me home, country road" and I've never lived in the country a day in my life - go figure!
I first heard about Jon Katz on the Oprah show. He was promoting his book, Running to the Mountain, A Midlife Adventure. I knew I wasn't going anywhere anytime soon so I lost myself in others' running stories. They have all been good reads which have only fueled my fantasies. Here are some of the books I've read over the years. I have enjoyed the stories, the writing, and the places I'll never see. That's one of the nice things about a book. You can go to different places, and never get out of your pajamas!
A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson
Fifty Acres and a Poodle A story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm by Jeanne Marie Laskas
Still Life with Chickens, Starting over in a house by the Sea by Catherine Goldhammer
Enslaved by Ducks by Bob Tarte
The Good Good Pig, the extraordinary life of Christopher Hogwood by Sy Montgomery
Eat, Pray Love, One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
[Photo by Jon Katz]
If you are interested in buying Bedlam Farms you can contact: Ginny Tremblay of Alan Brown Realty in Greenwich at 518 692-2328. According to Katz it has a beautiful Civil War farmhouse, four tip-top barns, two with water, one with water and heat, three fenced in pastures (all with fresh water), an unfenced pasture up on a hilltop, and a half-mile path into the woods. 90 acres.
If you are planning on running away remember what Mary Englebreit says: "No matter where you go, there you are."
Wishing for you a green meadow for sitting and dreaming,