I recently read an article in the Prairie Star newspaper suggesting if we don't begin to tell the story of agriculture, someone else will. The challenge resonated with me. I'm slow to the "blogging world" although my closest friends have haggled me about it for years. At first I thought: who would want to read about my life? I think it is a fair question. But as I've reflected on the life I am blessed to live here on our farm in Montana and the unique opportunity I have to raise my kids on this beautiful property as fourth-generation farmers, I realize perhaps I do have something worthwhile to share. The agricultural heritage, values and lifestyle are disappearing from mainstream America at the same time people are becoming more concerned about food production and land stewardship. So here it is... my first ever blog post:
I live in God’s Country. In the majestic mountains of Montana. The Big Sky State. I grew up here on our family’s farm just minutes from Glacier National Park. My husband Casey and I were both born and raised in Northwest Montana. We’ve got field dirt under our fingernails and fresh mountain air melded to our souls. We love where we live. It has been said one person’s postcard is another person’s normal. I definitely live in the postcard; I promise it never gets old. After 13 years teaching high school English, I work from home now where I help run the family farm, manage our guest property The Red Barn, keep a small vintage shop, and most of all-savor the simple moments of being mom. On our little corner of the farm I raise chickens, pastured pork and tend a large, crowded garden where the flowers mingle happily with the vegetables. I’m happiest on my knees in the garden dreaming of nourishing, future meals I’ll prepare from what starts out looking like a mud hole.
The farm is a family affair. There are four generations of us living on the land. My siblings and their spouses and kids live and work here too. We all help fix fences and work cows- albeit we would be lost without my dad, the real farmer and boss man. It is a wonderful, beautiful, and full life where my children play in the same places I did at their age: exploring the wild woods, swimming in the pond and catching frogs with their cousins who live just across the field. They enjoy an idyllic childhood and enormous freedom, although it comes with responsibility and hard work. So whether it is in the kitchen cooking, feeding animals, driving the hay wagon, or collecting eggs – my girls are also learning to pull their weight and contribute as part of our family. And while farming is often a struggle with daily challenges, there are many rewards. None less important than the ability to grow one’s own, high quality food.
Food is full circle for us. We start with seeds. We start in the pasture. Growing good food takes patience and grit. It takes time. It requires hope and prayer. Even as a child I understood the weather could make or break our crop. The little lamb curled up in the box by the wood stove needed a miracle. And I also understood that eventually the colorful plants and the livestock in the pasture would make their way to the table, sacrificing their lives to nourish mine. And so thanking God for the meal had more than ritual significance. There was no pretty package or brightly lit grocery store to disconnect me from the source, and for that I am truly thankful. So when, as a child, I helped wrap the meat for the freezer, weeded the peppermint, milked the goats, or dug potatoes – food and food production became part of who I am in the same manner that going to church on Sunday held its sway: it is both my heritage and something I’ve made my own. I don’t take it for granted that I live in a place that can feed my family and yours as well. It is a responsibility and an honor.