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'Down on the farm' takes on new meaning

Tom J. Bechman chickens
LIVING THE GOOD LIFE? Does having a few chickens make you a farmer? Not really!
Joy’s Reflections: Is it me, or are people today just crazy about farm living?

Are you approaching the new year with one eye closed and a slight grimace? The past 12 months I’ve witnessed things I never would have imagined in a million years — or ever desired to see.

It seems all things “farm” aren’t immune to shifts in society. I’m familiar with doing yoga with goats and renting goats to eat grass instead of mowing. But apparently, cow hugging is a thing now. Paying for cow cuddles? Who knew?

So start thinking outside the box with your livestock and their quarters. If it seems ridiculous, it would probably be lucrative. Here are some ideas:

  • Clean out a section of the barn. Wishing for that farm experience, folks might generously compensate you to spend the night in the barn next to your tractors or an animal stall. Just plop down the camp cots, and let the dust roll, mice wander and raccoons waddle by for that authentic experience.
  • Pitch a tent in the pasture. Create a “glamping experience” in the tent by supplying goose-feathered pillows, providing water in a bucket and setting a rusty oil can filled with sunflowers next to the door. 
  • Go bare bones. Simply roll out sleeping bags in the clean silo or shed. Throw in some cow or hog cuddles, and you’ve got yourself a booming business.

If my father were still here, he would shake his head and proclaim people are just plumb crazy. Then, me, being me, would attempt to convince him that people just want the good life that we knew we lived all along.

One of his pet peeves was someone on a 1-acre lot with a lawn mower, five chickens and two dogs claiming to live on a farm. He believed farming wasn’t a state of mind, but a state of being where crops, cows or something is produced outside of herbs in a patio container.

Life in America today

Then again, he didn’t live to see 2021 — where if you feel it, you can become it, even to be a farmer. But common sense tells me that one shouldn’t claim to be a doctor just by popping out the medicine kit.

While watering my flowers with the garden hose, I don’t believe for a moment that I am a firefighter. And just because you have a propensity to ramble half-truths when asked a question doesn’t make you a career politician.

Maybe 2022 will shake us down to reality. If nothing else, we’ll be a society that feels more connected to cows.

Beyond a farm experience, some folks are just trying to be a little more self-sufficient. They’ve realized they like to eat, so farming means anything that can help put food on the table or alleviate the stress on their bank account. For some, it works; for others, not so much.

My city-dwelling cousin invested in some chicks and raised them to maturity, along with a few ducks and turkeys. I saw him a couple of months ago. He leaned in and with slow sincerity asked, “Do you ever get tired of having to be home every day to take care of your animals?”

I believe the novelty has worn off. Perhaps I should offer him “farm quaint,” with an overnight in the chicken coop. It might choke him, but at least he would get his fill of poultry.

McClain writes from Greenwood, Ind.



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