Last week marked five years since we acquired the farm property (my husband, The Land Baron, doesn’t like to say we “bought the farm” because it sounds like someone died, like “kicked the bucket.”) That snowy January day, my oldest friend in the world and I packed up my minivan full of stuff for our new digs, even as I was still grappling with the realization that my man’s farm fantasy had become a reality.
In the ensuing five years, we’ve come a long way from Eva Gabor (“Darling I love you, but give me Park Avenue”) and Buddy Albert (“Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside”). Well, sometimes anyway. How did I come to this transformation? I’ve come to appreciate things that make “farm livin’ the life for me.” Well, sometimes.
Farm living is a feast for the senses: sounds, sights and of course, smells. I’ve come to really love the sounds on our farm. No farm scene would be complete without that iconic sound of a rooster crowing early in the morning. You don’t hear that much in the ‘burbs, but out in the country it’s almost cliché. It feels like we’re on a the set for the musical, Oklahoma; “Ok, cue the rooster, and … action!” I often feel like Shirley Jones as Laurey. When I hear that rooster crow, I want to break into the song The Surrey With the Fringe on Top, “Chicks, and ducks and geese better scurry, when I take you out in a surrey …”
There’s nothing like hearing the distant lowing of a cow in the neighboring land on a still summer morning. I remember one time, my husband and I awoke laughing because the mooing outside was unusually loud. “That mooing is so loud, it sounds like it’s right outside. The wind must have shifted or something.” Nope. It was a herd of wayward calves that broke loose and were actually right outside our window, swarming around our house like baffled bees. The poor things were bumping into each other, mooing, crying out in confusion. “Hey! Where are we?! What the heck?” The Sheriff swiftly appeared and wrangled them back home. I’m sure it wasn’t as funny to him.
One of my favorite sounds comes in early spring. Before you would think that anything is coming alive, there’s the pronounced singing of peepers, or tree frogs. I’m not sure I had ever heard of them before, but peepers are definitely a thing out in the country.Their song, so bright and hopeful, sounds like something out of the bayou and is a harbinger of warmer days ahead.
And then there are the crickets. Nothing says late summer like the hum of crickets and cicadas in the night air. Listening to that staccato rhythm in the darkness will forever remind me of hot sticky nights on my family’s yearly summer vacations … of falling asleep to the crickets’ songs, my hot, sunburned face against the cool pillowcase.
The visuals of the last five years have been a treasure. One thing that sold me on the farm life early on is sunrise. I was never a “morning person,” but seeing the sunrise over the hills to the east – what we’ve since learned are the foothills to the Appalachian Mountain chain – is so beautiful it’s almost holy. Yellow and white streaks, breaking through the fog that forms in the valley every night, form silhouettes of the horses. It’s enough to get this lazy girl out of bed early.
In the evenings, far away from the light pollution of the cities, we’ve become enthusiastic stargazers. Though I have no idea what I’m looking at, I am still thrilled and awed by it all, especially shooting stars. They never get old. When I crane my head back and take in the night sky, I am transported to being a kid, lying on the grass, looking up at the stars and trying to figure out my place in the universe. “What will I be when I grow up? Do I matter? What does it all mean?” Still kind of doing that, actually. I’ve always been a sucker for fireflies, which are profuse out there, like little galaxies of stars but closer to Earth. Sure, we get fireflies in the ‘burbs, but a large expanse of land filled with tiny specks of darting, yellow lightening bugs is a pretty special gift.
Sights, sounds and oh, the smells of a working farm. Yep, there’s a lot of horse poop on our farm and, yep, it smells like it. It’s pungent. But honestly, I’ve come to appreciate that scent. It is natural, after all. Mind you, I’m not wearing any of this eau de manure behind my ears to the next cocktail party, but I do kind of like that aroma. In the barn, mixed with hay and straw, it takes on a slightly sweet note. It reminds me of horseback riding as a kid and the time when an old, tired horse was simply not having me on her back and tried to rub me off by scraping my chubby legs against the side of the barn. I guess she didn’t like my unique scent: HoHo’s and Cheetos mixed with a faint bouquet of urine from bedwetting. I guess I don’t blame her.
So, I’m five years into this farm adventure and I’m still straddling two different worlds. I’m here and I’m there. I’m Eva, I’m Eddie. I’m a little bit country, a little bit rock n’ roll. I’m a little bit Hollywood musical, as I hum the title song to Oklahoma on the porch, taking it all in: “Evr’y night my honey lamb and I, sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin’ lazy circles in the sky.” Cue the music …