It’s hard to overstate the fascination that small farms have for people who don’t yet have one.
Yesterday afternoon, I’d been in town for about an hour and a half. I arrived back home at about 4:15, and shortly thereafter a car pulled into our driveway. I didn’t recognize it, so strolled from the barn to investigate. It was a middle-aged married couple.
“Did you get our message?” the woman asked.
“I just got home,” I replied.
“Oh,” she continued, “We found you on the Internet and we were in Tuscola [about 45-60 minutes south of here] and we didn’t know if you’d be home but we decided to take a chance and see if we could come see the farm.”
We’re listed in a couple of different online directories of small scale farmers, but she couldn’t remember which one she’d pulled up. Turns out, they live in Florida but have recently purchased a 20 acre spread in Arkansas, to which they hope to move (and eventually retire on) in the next few years. They’d like to have “a little bit of everything,” more or less like us, and wanted to see first hand how we’re doing that. Like us, they don’t want to make money at it. They just want control over their own food supply, and to perhaps sell some surplus to others who appreciate where that food came from. Unlike us, however, they also want to have horses — and that’s why they were in Tuscola. There is an Amish community down there, and they’d come to take lessons in driving horses (e.g. “horse and buggy”). They had some free time, and figured they’d come take a look at our farm.
“You’re just in time for chores,” I told them, which they thought was quite exciting. They followed me all over the property, as I tended to the various animals. We fed the ducks and chickens, checked on the sheep, inspected the grape vines, gathered eggs, and so forth. They admired the chicks in the brooder, and the turkey poults in the pasture pen, and were impressed with Mrs. Yeoman Farmer’s garden. They were particularly delighted by the several mother ducks quacking around with their broods of ducklings.
They stayed for about 45 minutes, and then had to head back to Tuscola. I went into the house to wash eggs, and found myself thinking about why we like farming so much: apart from the rural lifestyle and good food, it’s all the people we’ve been able to meet and share our farm with.
I should add: If you’re ever in East Central Illinois and would like a tour of our farm, we’d by all means enjoy having you visit. But please contact us more than an hour in advance. We’d hate to have you show up when we weren’t home to meet you.