I just needed to get away from everything. That’s what I told myself when I made the incredibly rash decision to buy six acres of land in the middle of nowhere, Virginia. My family was extremely confused and shocked when I told them I was leaving New York to be a farmer.
“But you have such a great life here,”
“you don’t know the first thing about farming!” and “Don’t waste your money,” were the statements I heard the most.
Not one ounce of support or encouragement came from any of them. Though I suppose I can understand my family’s concern, the decision did seem out of nowhere and outside of my skill set.
Deep down, though, I always had this fantasy of getting out of the loud and busy city scenery that I was used to and really getting in touch with nature.
While the skills I cultivated over a four-year college education in philosophy, as well as five years experience of working in a department store wouldn’t seem to translate into operating and maintaining a farm, I was confident that with proper research and hard work, I could run my farm efficiently. The rough first year on the farm was enough to prove to my family that they were right about my venture.
At the end of my first year, all I really had to show for my work was one old cow, a small carrot crop, and a pet pig I named Bucky.
Admittedly, I overestimated my abilities when it came to farming. After the farmhouse and barn had been built I purchased five pigs that I planned to slaughter and sell. When it came the time to actually kill the pigs, however, I found myself completely unable to even attempt the grim task. A few members of PETA I had gotten in contact with were more than happy to take the pigs off my hands, but I found I couldn’t part with the runt of the litter, who had been at my heels since he came to the farm. With the last of the money I had, I was able to purchase one cow and enough carrot seeds to grow a small batch.
I never had enough money after buying feed for Bucky and the cow, as well as paying bills, to buy any food for myself, so my only course of action to keep from starving was to eat the carrots I had be growing. This started a terrible cycle as I kept half of the carrots I harvested for myself and sold the other half, only making half of the profits I should have been making.
Even with the small amount of milk that the cow gave me to sell it was still not enough to make a profit as all the money I was making went right back into feed, seeds, and bills. I had thought many times about selling the land and moving back to my old city life, but despite the stress of farm life and the constant hunger pains I felt, I couldn’t bring myself to leave.
The farm really was a beautiful place, surrounded by the largest trees I’d ever seen and miles away from any civilization, where you could watch the sun rise over the large hills every morning, the farm was calm and serene.
Even though I subsisted on a diet of only carrots, and occasionally bread when I could get my hands on it, I never grew tired of the orange vegetable. I had eaten carrots all my life and never thought much of them, but the ones I pulled out of the ground on that farm were the most delicious, sweet, and filling carrots I had ever had.
Whether it had something to do with the fact that I planted them myself, if it was something with the soil, or if I was just so hungry that any food would have tasted amazing, I don’t know, but what I do know is I’ve never had such amazing carrots before or since.
When I think about it, there’s really nothing I can say to make people fully comprehend what I saw in that farm, but I knew there was something special about my little hidden haven.
So, despite my family and friends pleading with me not to, I remained on the farm promising that I would turn my luck around in the upcoming year.
– Matthew Brosche