- Education and Science
Simple Living: The Self-Sustaining Educational Eco Farm
I wrote an article awhile back called “Chasing A Dream” in which I talked about my dream (and Bev’s) of buying a farm in four years and making it an educational learning center. When I had finished the article I put it out there on different sites including Reddit and the next day I received a charming reply from one of my readers. He wished me luck and then said I would need it if I thought I could do such a thing at the age of sixty-three.
It reminded me of a friend I talked to maybe a year ago; I told her I had a plan and it was time to go for it. Instead of looking for a typical 9-5 job I was going to begin a new career as a freelance writer, that I was going to self-publish my novel and I was going to work towards buying the aforementioned farm with Bev. My friend actually became indignant and said she would love to support me but as my friend she considered it her duty to tell me that I was crazy and that dreams were only valid if they had a chance of becoming reality.
As much as I would like people to think I am immune to criticism, her words stung me that day but they also had the effect of solidifying my resolve to move forward. Since that chat I have self-published my first novel and my freelance writing business is going strong and growing steadily. All that remains of my original plan is to buy that farm and I tell you this with all sincerity and conviction: I WILL buy that farm and it will happen within the next three years. Period!
SO WHY A FARM? YOU AIN’T NO FARMER!
Truer words were never spoken; I am definitely not a farmer but I have been around farms much of my life and it has always been a dream of mine to have my own. My grandparents were corn farmers in Iowa while I was tripping and stumbling through my early years and I still remember playing on that farm and helping my grandfather with the chores and milking cows and collecting eggs and just soaking in the sights and smells and sounds of the farm.
Later on in life I owned several properties that had land from five to ten acres and I just loved the feeling of rising early and taking my morning coffee out to the pasture and talking to the horses. So it’s not like I don’t know the difference between a Morgan and a mule.
However, the real reason for my future farm is educational in nature. For a number of years I have grown more and more disenchanted with the education system. Having been a part of it for eighteen years I watched its slow decline from something I admired to something I did not recognize. I watched the Arts slowly eliminated from our schools and eventually even my subject of history lost funding because it lacked the importance of core subjects that would be covered on the state standardized tests.
Since I was obviously not going to win the battle within the system I decided that my only choice was to start my own outdoor school. I was fortunate enough to be dating a wonderful woman who shares my dream and that was about all the support I needed.
WHAT’S IT GOING TO LOOK LIKE?
Glad you asked! The love of my life, Bev, was kind enough to make a diorama of the farm which you can see in the photo section on the right. I also included a drawing of an outdoor classroom that I designed a couple years back for a school I taught at in Oregon. Our farm with be a little of both and a great deal more that is not included in either of those renderings.
I envision learning stations throughout the ten acres. There will be a stream flowing through and a waterwheel working on that stream; there will be a replica of an Oregon Trail wagon. Of course we will have a solar-powered greenhouse and wind turbines and a petting zoo and so much more. Hand-crafted planets will be in the outdoor solarium and bee hives and cider presses and an aviary.
The barn will be the indoor classroom and on weekends we will have barn dances for the neighbors, and lest I forget we will have a shop that sells our lavender products which we already produce but will obviously be produced on a much larger scale. We will also have artist and writer workshops in the barn. I can see this farm so vividly in my mind that at times I swear I can smell the fresh soil and hear the chickens in the morning and my heart and soul ache when I realize I am still three years away from it happening.
HAVE YOU LOST YOUR FRIGGIN’ MIND BILLYBUC?
I published an article a couple days back about childhood dreams and do we remember them; obviously this is not a childhood dream of mine but it is a dream that rests within the mind of a sixty-three year old. A little old to be starting over, don’t you think? I can hear those remarks from some of you as they sail through the internet to my computer in Olympia.
Well, the fast answer is no, I do not think I’m too old to start over. Age is simply a state of mind in my opinion and I feel like I am thirty years old. In fact, I am re-energized by the challenge and am totally focused on the goal.
Listen, I readily admit that I am wired differently than most people. I was just having this conversation with Bev the other day. I am missing that little button in the brain that says, “slow the hell up and think about the consequences.” It was there at one time in my life as I weighed decisions carefully, going over every possible scenario until I felt I had covered all the bases. Inevitably what would happen would be something I hadn’t planned on OR I would do nothing because I suffered paralysis by analysis.
Those days are gone. I no longer allow myself to think like that because, well, life is too damn short. What is the worst case scenario as I go forward? It won’t happen….for whatever reason we won’t be able to do it. What is the best case scenario? We have our farm in a little more than three years. I am prepared for the worst and I am prepared for the best and for the life of me I don’t see why I shouldn’t go for it with gusto!
SOME OF MY PERSONAL PHILOSOPHIES
Tell me that something is a fantasy and I start trying to make it a reality. Tell me I’m silly for dreaming and I’ll tell you that you are halfway to your own grave because you have lost the ability to dream. Tell me that it is too difficult and I’ll tell you that a person who fails to act because of difficulty is a person who needs to follow my dad’s advice and strap on some balls. Tell me that I can’t and I’ll prove to you that I can.
How many years do you think I still have on this Earth? If I’m lucky twenty; if my luck has run out I could die right after posting this article. I wasted far too many of my years in a self-induced alcoholic fog; I have no intention of cheating myself of my remaining time because something appears to be too difficult or unrealistic. I owe it to myself to live life to the fullest the rest of the way.
So there you have it! The dream has been verbalized and described and declared. For those detractors out there I wish you well; for those who will support me, three and a half years from now Bev and I will have an open house celebration and you are all invited…..and please, don’t bring a bottle of wine as a housewarming gift. Not a good idea at all! :)