Last week I got the opportunity to take our youngest son on a “field trip” to Nomad Farms in Tobaccoville. I have friends who have raved about their Farm Camp, and I’m informed enough about meat processing and chicken farms to know finding a small, local farm is a great gift to your family’s health. I did not anticipate what a sweet experience it would be to watch William watch the animals. I did not know how inspired I would feel from listening to Farmer Mark. I was instantly living in Charlotte’s Web and trying to figure out how I could fit a drive out to the farm into my weekly routine. It was magical.
When we first arrived, 15 minutes early for our tour because my brain runs on coaching time and so I am nearly always the first person to arrive, my son was immediately excited. He couldn’t wait to pull on his rain boots and run out and see all the magic the farm contained. His face was filled with joy because he saw his favorite thing: a Port-a-Potty. No lie. Will LOVES a good outdoor toilet. From tailgate parking lots to off-season playgrounds, Will’s first stop is ALWAYS the Port-a-Potty. Thankfully this one was well maintained, and we were the first arrivals of the day (most people put off the outdoor toilet experience as long as possible. Not Will.) After that little dose of magic, Will squealed with joy as he found his first farm animal. A cat. Named Potato. He could not wait for more MOPS friends to arrive so he could introduce them to Potato! My youngest boy is all things extroverted. He loves people. He LOVES to talk. Playdates and group field trips are his jam!
One of my favorite things about new experiences, and meeting new people, is hearing people’s stories. There are very few people who could tell you about their lives without leaving a feeling of “wow! That’s amazing!” in their wake. Farmer Mark told us about how he and his wife, and their 4 children, traveled to and lived in Tibet for 10 years. He explained to us that the idea for “Nomad” farms came from the nomadic lifestyle of the people of Tibet who live in tents and travel behind their herds of livestock as they move to new grazing ground. He explained that they returned home and desired a life with their family being together and working on a common endeavor. They got on YouTube and learned how to farm. That is amazing! I know less than 1% of what their life has been like but I still walked away feeling inspired. Those people who have read or listened to anything by Rachel Hollis, the author of Girl, Wash Your Face!, have heard her tagline that she “grew a multi-million dollar company with a high school diploma and a Google search bar”. All the information we need is right inside these computers, tablets, smart phones we spend time with each day. Sometimes it isn’t that we can’t learn how, it’s more that we can’t focus in on one thing long enough to learn and complete the task!
The other part of the farm experience that stayed with me is the impact of open outdoors. When I look out and see nothing but fields and grazing animals it makes me long for more of that view. Watching my 3 year old son run up and be so excited for the farm tour and have trouble standing still and being patient for the adventure to begin, to just a little while later standing in grass up to his shoulders gazing out at a cow for minutes, motionless. The impact on me? Well, other than to take a few pictures I didn’t have my phone out for anything. Sometimes those amazing devices with all the information also distract us from all of the life around us. When I first got a smartphone, after years of resisting, it was a gift. There are parts of it that I am so grateful for in my day-to-day life that it’s hard to remember what life was like without it. However, there was life without it. It’s hard to put that genie back in the bottle. It’s why I haven’t given that burden to my children. The days when I leave my phone behind are some of my best days. A lot of times those are the days that have moments that are truly photo-worthy despite not having a way to capture that photo. But those memories are strong enough to maintain their beauty without being frozen in time in the cloud.
I was inspired by the reminders of how big farming industry has changed the process of animals growing and being processed for meat. How that process involves chemicals and poisons our grandparents wouldn’t have utilized. How those changes are affecting the health of our world, from the grass we walk on to the people ingesting the products. Mostly I was inspired by the feeling I had when we left the farm. The connection to the earth and to our food. The space to walk and run and think. The desire to return. In the meantime, we are going to enjoy our farm store meat purchases and dream about what big adventures lie ahead in our lives.