Oh, what an affair! Our family's farm-stay vacation at a working Vermont farm last week exceeded my expectations. We milked the cows, hiked with the goats, cuddled with the kittens, roamed the farm's 100-acres of pastoral countryside, learned how to make cheese, slopped the pigs, washed the show-cow, picked raspberries, visited with the warm and welcoming farmers, caught grasshoppers, swam in the swimming hole, collected fire-flies, ate delicious grass-fed beef, fresh raw milk, and just-laid eggs, and savored a whole lot of unhurried family time in the rural, bucolic, and quintessential New England town of Benson, Vermont.
I'll admit it: I'm having an affair with the farm. I'm enjoying all of its romance and routine, without the commitment and care. I'm dreaming of a red barn, a family cow, and a flock of hens, while maintaining my steady relationship with the city. I have no plans to leave the city for the farm, but I will continue to enjoy my frequent farm dates and the occasional overnight rendezvous.
In fact, my affair with the farm--especially a week of seeing the real and honest workings of one--has helped to reignite my romance with the city. As much as I love the farm, I know that I am a city girl at heart, feeling most at home nestled in the middle of a vibrant and diverse urban center. Still, being at the farm, surrounded by the quiet, green country, unplugged from the Internet while tapped into the natural cycle of life and food, brought with it a sense of humility and connection to the land that can be easily forgotten in a busy city.
The most significant truth I learned from our time at the farm is that a simpler, more sustainable, more self-reliant life is really a state-of-mind, a state-of-being, regardless of place. We can live more simply, sustainably, and self-sufficiently if we commit to such a lifestyle, in the city or in the country. We can prioritize our family's connection with nature, respect the earth and its many gifts, care about where our food comes from and where our waste goes, create homesteads that are active centers of sustainable production, cherish unplugged family time and the opportunity to watch our children learn and grow--whether on a quiet farm or in the middle of a bustling city, whether surrounded by scores of green acres or miles of concrete.
I'll continue my love affair with the farm--supporting it, visiting it, respecting and learning from it, and encouraging others to do the same--but I won't leave the city behind. While the grass may be greener at the farm (heck, I don't even have a blade of grass), there is no place like home.