Posted by authorcamilson
If You Leave This Farm: The Dream is Destroyed
by Amanda Farmer
Publisher: Archway Publishing
Release Date: July 2014
Description: My book chronicles the story of our move to Minnesota as a family when we are teenagers to farm together. The first year’s catastrophic crop failure sets off a determination by our father to totally control our circumstances and leads to 12 years of struggle by my younger brother and I to leave the farm. Interweaved into the story is our life as Mennonites and the influence that has upon our lives.
Amanda grew up on the farm and worked together there with her family until the age of 29. She now lives with her husband on a hobby farm in southeastern Minnesota. They have one grown daughter. Amanda holds a Master’s Degree in Nurse Anesthesia and currently works in that profession.
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I grab a book to read while supper is being put on the table. Reading is my escape to adventures I probably will never see, but there is nothing to stop me from dreaming. I work in a few paragraphs before it is time to gather at the table. Daddy begins by reading a passage aloud from the Bible. Then he prays before we dig into a hearty meal of farmer’s fare: potatoes, meat, a vegetable, and always a dessert.
“Children,” Daddy says tonight, “Next Monday evening, we are going to go to Nirvana to see some slides of farms that are for sale in the Midwest. They are being shown by a real estate agent from there. I need you to get the milking started right away when you get home from school.”
Daddy has been talking for some time now about buying land “out West” and moving out of the crowded Pennsylvania area. Currently, Daddy is renting land in small blocks of five to ten acres, as far away as twenty miles from the home farm. He and Paul are farming around five hundred acres altogether. We all spend a lot of time on the road, traveling back and forth to the various fields and hauling the baled hay home during the long summer days. Daddy and Paul think it would be so much easier to just have a piece of land all in one block to farm. I am not so sure about this idea, but Daddy promises that if we do this, we won’t milk as many cows. We will only have maybe fifty cows. That sounds like a wonderful idea to me and I am open to an adventure. By now it is nine thirty, and I fall into bed, exhausted with dreams of faraway places and fewer cows to milk.
I spend my morning after milking today reading the local newspaper and the Budget (Ohio), an Amish-Mennonite newspaper. The Budget is a compilation of letters from “scribes,” or writers, in various communities all over the country, telling of the happenings in the lives of other Amish and Mennonite families. The letters hold a certain fascination to me as, it seems, all kinds of strange and exciting things happen in other people’s lives. In contrast, my life is the same stressful combination of work and sleep and nothingness every day. I have started to become increasingly more discouraged and just plain tired of the life that is mine. Daddy’s response to any voicing of this weariness is, “God gave us all these gifts. We need to be good stewards and work hard to take care of them.”
After about an hour of reading, I make my way to the barn to stand upon my perch, from which I scout for cows that I will need to breed later in the day. Then it is time to hook the gooseneck cattle trailer to the pickup and take the bull calves that have been born in the last week to the sale barn. It is a job I enjoy. It does take a special skill to back a gooseneck trailer around, and I am proud that I have mastered it. Not many women can do what I do on a daily basis.
As I return from my fifty-mile round trip, I notice a car in front of the house. Daddy is talking to a building salesman. I step inside in time to see him signing a contract for another machine shed. My heart drops. Just what we need. More buildings to pay for. I am feeling depressed, but the day is warm, so I walk out into the pasture to check on the dry cows. I lie on the grass in the pasture, with the sun on my face, and allow the tears to course down my cheeks and onto the fading grass of summer. Oh God! Help us! is all that I can pray. I want my life to be about more than paying for buildings and cows.
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