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Thursday, March 21, 2013

I Would Move to Oklahoma If...

If he can do it...I can do it, right?
I would move to Oklahoma in a heart beat if my Aunt and Uncles would consent to letting me live on our family farm. We rented an RV (Thank you Joe Morales @ Cruise America) to spend Christmas with my Grandmother of 86 years in Oklahoma City. Besides seeing Grandma (of course!) one of the other things I so desperately wanted to do was see our family farm.

My Grandmother still owns and oversees the daily operations of the family farm in Hennessey, Oklahoma. Not much is going on there these days other than a cousin letting his cattle herd graze on the land. I think he might still sow some crops here and there. But for the most part, it is approximately 160 acres...and it's just sitting there...growing old.

The second day in town, we headed out to the farm. This would be the first visit for all my six daughters as the youngest two weren't born yet the last time we came to visit. Memories flashed through my brain during the drive out there of all the family events we had attended as I was growing up in the seventies and eighties. All the Fourth of July shenanigans, trash burns, calf riding and general silliness.

Cows are the brown ones, duh.
We had a pond overloaded with tadpoles and trees as far as the eyes could see. My favorite tale was an old western folk story about some train robbers who had stashed their bounty somewhere on our land before getting caught by the local law enforcement. The bounty was never found and if I remember right, we've had a few family and friends come out with metal detectors hoping to find the gold. Doesn't really matter to me if it is true, it is the story that has value to me.  Even more so when I got to watch my elders tell the story to my children. Chills!

But this visit would be different. Much like my Aunt and Uncles whom I see once a decade, the farm had grown older.  Trees once so thick you couldn't see the farm house from the road, now number around a dozen or so.  Empty spaces between the trees so large our old combine could have been driven between them. I was informed a frost had come through a few years ago and damaged most of the trees to the point that many limbs fell to the ground. The naked, damaged trunks were taken down and hauled away.

Regardless of the empty feeling the farm now portrays, I walked my girls all over that land and told them as many stories as I could remember. We had a go-cart racing track on the back end of the property near two old oil tanks.  Grandpa used to lead a Scout pack for decades and they had a special place they would build camp. It was not unusual for me to swim in the horse tank during the summer or blow up cow pie after cow pie with black cat firecrackers every Fourth of July.

About a dozen cows wandered about lazily, every now and then raising their heavy heads to look at us with reckless abandon. The slightest movement sent them running off into the pasture. I always thought cows were so dumb. They probably think the same think about me.

Educational material.
So a month goes by and I'm driving to my night shift at our local small town hospital. I'm back in the "Gee I wish I could homestead on some property" mode that I drift off into so often these days. Then the thought struck me..."why couldn't I homestead on our family farm?"  All that land is just sitting there. It already has a well, sewer, power, farm house and barn.

Now, the farm house is much too small for my family of eight. But wouldn't it be great if we moved there and reinvigorated the farm? I don't want to sow fields of wheat like Grandpa did. I don't have the tractors and combines and stuff he had. It has all been sold now. But I could have cattle, goats, and chickens! Yes, LOTS of chickens! A couple of dogs. Finally, a yard a dog would love!

We've been practicing our gardening now for three years. Sure, we're not experts but we're getting pretty good. Wifey and I have been talking about home schooling for about three years as well. If we could homestead on our family farm, we could do all the things we've dreamed about: gardening for self sufficiency, raising livestock with our children and home schooling.

I'd love to see my Grandmother's face if she came out to visit us and we had her old farmstead up and running with active animals running everywhere. She grew up that way. She tells stories of snatching chickens up and "ringing their little necks." Of course, she didn't like to do it but "we had to if we wanted to eat." I once asked her what she remembered about the Great Depression. She told me: "Not much, it didn't affect us. We grew all our own food."

That's what I want to do. That's what Wifey wants to do. I even sent a message to a cousin in Oklahoma asking her what she thought of the idea. She was immediately onboard. Seems so many people these days are wanting to leave the city and get back to their roots. Back to farming, homesteading and being more self sufficient and less dependent on society.

I just don't know where to start. Should I draw up a proposal on a map showing where I'd put our temporary housing and animal pens? How I would set up rain catchment systems and revive our long gone pond to utilize production of duck weed and talapia? My family doesn't know the countless hours I've spent learning and watching Joel Salatin and other farmers of this era. I don't want large machines and government subsidies. I want my fingers in the soil and my children playing outside, away from smog and gangs.

Shoot, if we had one ranch hand (Cousin Tim, age 25) and two young families living on the farm, just think of the life we could breathe back into that farm land! Rewards would abound! But until I think it through a little more, I'm not ready to approach the elders with the idea.

What would you do?

~OJD

16 comments:

Crustyrusty said...

OKC had too much dust and too many tornadoes for my taste, but I wouldn't pass it up. I guess you could drive to Stillwater to work if you had to until you got things running smoothly.

Go for it if you can.

The Orange Jeep Dad said...

@Rusty Yeah, well...I moved from OK to AZ. There's a lot more dirt here. If I remember right, it was the constant wind and humidity that used to drive me nuts.

Lisa said...

I think that if you wrote what you wrote here in a letter and sent it to those who would make the decision, you'd be on the right track. Follow it up with you'll give them a call to discuss it in a week or so. Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Listen to your heart man! I'd run, not walk, through the process to make the transition. I know the job looks overwhleming, but the Lord put the idea in your mind, He will give you the ability and strength to make it happen. Remember, He said, "I know my plans for you. They are not to harm you ,but to prosper you". Good luck....God's speed!

Crustyrusty said...

ROFL

"Why does the wind blow so hard in OK? Because Kansas blows and Texas sucks"

I didn't think the humidity was any worse than Chicago in the summer, but that's me.

Linda in SoCal said...

I would talk to your extended family ASAP. I am with the other poster who said The Lord put these desires in your heart for a reason. While OK is not my favorite place, what you describe sounds wonderful. If the family says yes, start job hunting. Oh, and because you have lived there before, you know...build a storm shelter. Let us all know how it goes.

Practical Parsimony said...

Watch the Back to Eden film. He uses only a hoe on his extensive garden. It is about and hour and a half long, but worth it. I just wish I had some place to go where there was family.

The Orange Jeep Dad said...

Thanks to all for the encourangement.

@PP I agree 100% with Eden principles for gardening. Mix that with Salatin's animal techniques and the results should be amazing.

The hard part would be finding a job out there. Anyone have any connections with the local hospitals in Hennessey, Enid, or Kingfisher?

Miss M said...

Absolutely go for it!

It might be good to not show your complete hand to the decision-makers right away. If you show them diagrams of all your plans, they may resist. They may not want your water system there, or your animals here, etc., and so may be against the whole thing.

But if you break them in slowly (frog in the pot style), telling them how you'd love to move to the family farm and reinvigorate it, get some stuff going on it again, they might think "you know, it would be nice to see some life breathed back into this old place..." And then they might be open to some of your plans (the less radical ones first).

Anonymous said...

no offense t o you or your family but get all the rules, responsibilities, et cetera agreed and written. then have a lawyer make a contract. it isn't unusual for disputes, especially if grandma names someone her power of attorney or land steward. no one could object to your excellent plans but the future cannot be left blithely to fate. many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.
decide what you need and want--lots of thought!-- and get it legal. e.g. who will pay what property taxes and who else in the family will be using the acres ,or some of them, for what purposes. everything on the table and EVERYONE in the loop will keep away all misunderstanding and hurt feelings.
whatever you put into the land it will not be yours. if you have to move. keep in mind that if grandma must have nursing home care in some states the nursing home can take the property.
get a lawyer.
i'm sure this is fairly common and there are lawyers who do a lot of this sort of thing.

have a job in hand.

build a biggish storm shelter.

used to live in jones, ok.
teach your family all about tornadoes and to look out in all directions. they don't always come from the same direction.
God bless you all.

The Orange Jeep Dad said...

@Anon All excellent points. 100% spot on. Thanks for the input!

Swamp Dog said...

Good luck, hope your dreams come true. I can almost taste those fresh eggs right now.

Edwina Sybert said...

Living simply and being self sufficient sounds so sweet. And I adore you for choosing that lifestyle for your family. A plan on how you would want your new house should look is a great idea, and I’m sure you’re going to have fun doing that. And please don’t forget to build a sturdy storm shelter for your family of 8. Good luck!

Edwina Sybert

The Orange Jeep Dad said...

@Edwina Store shelter for sure! It always sounds wonderful when you're in the planning stage. There are so many possibilities. I'm not sure which way this will turn out just yet but it is certainly fun to think about. Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Dennis

If I may give a little advice, the same that I gave a friend that decided to go into farming? Do not be a commercial farmer. Let other people take that risk. Lease your land out to farmers and keep a small patch for yourself but let others take the risk. I had to laugh, respectfully of course, when he phone me to say how much a new part cost for the combine.

Good luck and may God's blessing be with you.

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