|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.
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?