The Pioneer Woman. I think I always wanted to be her. Back to nature. Living off the land. Mother Earth News pinup. I wanted to milk my own cow, whip my own butter, grow my own tomatoes, and can all our jams. For years my husband and I were flat broke, so I was halfway there. I hung out our laundry on a line in the sun. Diapered our babies in cloth and plastic pants. I sewed—a few of—their clothes. Nursed them devotedly and made baby food in a blender. I learned to dissect a chicken and fry it up like the colonel. And we decorated our garden with a homemade scarecrow one fall.
Yep, we were country. In the city.
But ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to live on a farm. Who knows why? Maybe I sang Old McDonald too many times. I wanted to have a horse. And play in a barn. And walk three miles to school down a country road. Instead, I spent my childhood in a California trailer park with a view of San Quentin.
So how do you get to be one of the lucky few who grow up surrounded by chickens and rodeos?
My granddad grew up on a family farm in Kansas, a farm that ran for over one hundred years until the last son retired—childless—and sold it to some city slickers. My granddad had escaped to the city to become an engineer. He didn’t want to raise his kids on the family farm. He fell hard for the desert and an eighteen-year-old beauty and never looked back at the amber waves of grain behind him.
It’s funny, isn’t it? City kids want to live in the country and country kids long for the city.
The truth is, even The Pioneer Woman came to the country late. She grew up in a country club neighborhood, the privileged daughter of a surgeon. On her way to Chicago to become a lawyer, she met her Marlboro Man and promptly changed occupations. Now she lives on a ranch, runs a blog, homeschools her four kids, and takes pictures of cows. In her back yard.
Maybe I have more in common with her than I realized. We both started out as city girls. Check. We both homeschooled. Check check. We both blog. Triple check. We’re both redheads. And I take pictures of my grandkids in my back yard.
So what if I don’t milk a cow? It’s five minutes to the grocery store. And who cares if my jam isn’t homemade, especially if the biscuits are. I make a pretty good pie from scratch, and I drive by ranches full of horses every day on my way home. Last week I even saw a camel in a corral.
I guess the life you have is the one to appreciate. I may never be any good at rodeoing or chasing chickens or growing tomatoes. But I’m also no good at getting up at the crack of dawn so I can feed animals. I’m not even any good getting up an hour after it cracks to feed my husband. The HOA won’t let me have chickens, but there are early risers five miles from my house who are happy to sell their fresh eggs to me. Farmers have markets less than ten miles away, and my home isn’t far from the range.
I think I know my limitations. I’m not really cut out for life on a farm. But just for fun, I’ll keep living vicariously through the blog of that pioneer gal. From the comfort of my lazy boy.
My cowboy hat’s off to her.