The farm on my desk

Nerys and Manolo and Anne and Martina and Calvin

I have set up the farm in one of the cubbies in my desk, though somewhere along the way I have managed to misplace my lamb. First task, find my lost little lamb. Next task after that: figuring out where I can set up a little 1:24 scale sheep farm.

When I was growing up, I wanted a farm. There would be a house: a grand old Victorian lady, like the house in the Addams Family (only white and more in keeping with the Rustic farm setting.) with several huge barns for the animals and equipment.

I imagined I would keep heritage breeds like Babydoll sheep, Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, and Rhode Island White chickens (Foghorn Leghorn might have claimed to be a Rhode Island Red, but he was a Rhode Island White.) Maybe even a little orchard with some Swedish blue ducks to help keep pests under control in the garden. (yes, Mama. Actual little blue ducks.)

When I looked into it in my early 20’s, I found the cost to start such a thing was beyond prohibative. It was soul crushing. There was no way that I, as a temporary worker making just above minimum wage when I was luck, would ever be able to afford such a thing. No amount of saving would make it possible. The land alone was so far out of my reach that it made university tuition look attainable by comparison.

My farm was the first dream that I let die. I planted some herbs in a pot and put them on the windowsill in the apartment I was barely affording to pay the rent for and moved on with my life.

I don’t regret it. Some dreams aren’t worth the cost of keeping them alive. That’s not to say that farming is a bad dream. For someone else, it might be their most important dream – the one they have to attain in order to feel whole. It just wasn’t my most important dream and I knew it wasn’t when my thought was “Compared to that, paying for going to University seems easy.”

I’ve let go of things I regret letting slip away. Getting married. Having a family of my own. Moving to somewhere warm. Making a living at writing. Some of those are pretty much gone forever. I will likely never have them as part of my life. It’s okay that they’re gone, even if I regret not having done them. For example, I have a good life as a single person even though I did want a family. I enjoy The Day Job and the security it brings me far more than I ever enjoyed being employed as a web page copywriter.

Others, like being published in something other than the university literary magazine, are still viable – even if it’s not the primary way I make my living. Even if I’m not trying to make it the primary way I make my living. Being a web page copywriter brought me a great deal of clarity on that front. My dream isn’t making a living at writing. My dream is writing things that entertain others. It’s being published again because someone else enjoyed what I wrote and thought others would too. I have stories that want to be told and they will not shut up until they’re out of my head and on paper.

The little plastic sheep that I got as a joke for #Whinebeck photos have since become my farm. It’s obviously not the same as a real farm. I think that’s the point. There are no animal chores. No feed to throw or manure to clear. This farm never has bad economic years. There are never stillborn lambs or sows that die farrowing, no hens that stop laying or apple trees that don’t produce because the blooms were killed by an early spring with a late cold snap.

This farm is still a dream farm. It’s a reminder that the fate of dreams is not black or white. Some dreams are realized. Some dreams die and leave holes within us. Some dreams grow and change and are better for it. Others fade just fade and are replaced by new dreams.

My pot of herbs has become three raised beds in the back yard that feed me tomatoes (the actual fruit, not the imaginary unit of time) and peppers during the growing season. Sometimes through the winter, when I get lucky. My sheep are 1:24 scale and never need feeding or sheering. My writing may not ever pay my bills. It might, however, entertain or inspire someone, and that seems like payment enough.

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