When Farmwives Travel in God’s Country

- 4

I was reading the blog of an old friend this morning, someone who has become a sensation in the homesteading world. Yes, I think, ironically, that is a thing. You would think that internet fame and grubbing out your living in the backyard would be incongruous, but from what I can tell, they are quite comfortable bedfellows and I suspect that the real reason I am not famous has less to do with my having written an unpopular book or being offensive on podcasts and more to do with my being disinterested in slaughtering my own anything. Except maybe a Twinkie. I think I could get behind making head cheese out of that little farm-raised beauty.

People tend to make adorable assumptions when they learn that I am a farmer’s wife. They ask me funny questions, like is it difficult to juggle the hours spent out in the field with the life of homeschooling four children — and that doesn’t even account for all the canning!

Ahem. Right. About that…

See, I am not that sort of farmer’s wife. I do not spend my days out in the fields, nor am I in the habit of feeding animals (I won’t even touch the cat. If my children didn’t love petting and caring for the pets, they would have shrugged and moved on to greener pastures years ago), collecting eggs from the blush-worthy region of hens and I have never fed an entire crew lunch during the harvest.

I am the sort whose farmer husband so assiduously cleans every piece of produce that he brings in that as far as I know, we don’t really use dirt for growing and bugs and slugs are so last century. I have indeed attempted canning… but have since given it up, and for very good reason — after 15 hours or so of slaving over a hot stove in order that we might enjoy strawberry rhubarb jam all through the long, cold winter (yes. I often superimpose myself into Little House on the Prairie stories when I am feeling highly domestic), drat it all if we didn’t eat every last jar within the week. So now, I impulse preserve and only make things that can be stored and eaten straight from the fridge, and we just suffer in winter and write sad poems about summer harvest.

(Insert a little hum about peaches to the tune of “The Days of Wine and Roses”.)

All of these character deficiencies I have largely learned to accept about myself, and the only twinges of regret I feel tend to come when I am reading about how putting up barns and beans led inexplicably to a trip to Italy, where they will eat and cook and make YouTube videos while becoming more famous. But I suppose since we are being blunt, that is not really a sound regret at my lack of moral and domestic fortitude and more just me wishing that someone was sending me to Italy to eat.

I actually suspect that I may only like the idea of travel because I don’t ever do it. It is “the other”, so far removed from the day to day realities of my life, that I suppose it acquires a certain romance. If I were actually go to some long-dreamed about European country, it would probably look like a lot of me getting attacks of flopsweat because I cannot understand a single thing said with an accent, much less full on spoken in another language. I would probably become that person that travel bloggers write about: that horrid American spectre who orders inappropriately and thus gets tripe on toast when she was aiming for black coffee, accidentally insults the waiter’s wife when all she wanted was to acquire pie and inexplicably takes to chewing gum in public, despite having not chewed gum since her teens. I would bellow at everyone because I would assume that being louder will overcome the language barrier — in this, I am quite serious, and in our tacky American defense, we are not the only ones that do it. Every encounter I have ever had with a nail technician, Chinese take-out, or a taco truck has ended the same way, with them screaming the price at me while I panic, sweat, and hand over my debit card whether I understood why or not.

That technique only fails when they weren’t actually giving me the price, but instead were telling me about the recent remodel on the building and why there are no available restrooms. Funnily enough, they still take the card.

My husband once told me, speaking harsh truths about the purity of human morality, of men in particular: Even Mr. Rogers was a pig.

I would like to add my own sweeping generalization to the pantheon of generalizations: Even Ma Ingalls wished she was somewhere else.

Now, perhaps you are thinking, well duh, did you not read the Long Winter?? I did. But my point is that godliness with contentment is great gain and there is the rub — I want the gain without having achieved the contentment. I want the struggle of the person going to Italy rather than the struggle of my life today. It is a lie from the pit, but an effective lie, that I could handle someone else’s trial better than the one God has given me — I would know how to be content with busy days filled with friends and activities and earning lots of money. I would not complain about that…

Of course I would.

Because the trials of this very moment have been handcrafted for me by my Savior — they fit me like a glove. There is not a moment’s grief, there is not a single pang of loneliness, there is no physical pain that was not lovingly designed for me by my Lord. When I am desiring to travel outside my current trials and play tourist in the trials of others, I am telling the God of all creation that I think He goofed up when He gave me my life, everything about my current situation, when in truth, He has taught me the language of this suffering. I need not be a stranger, confused and baffled by the customs and the mannerisms, unsure how to take the next step. He has equipped me with the words to sing out His praises in this locale, He has prepared good works for me to do while I am here — and I do not get to know how long that will be! It may be that He gives me many years to acquaint myself with the terrain of this suffering, or it could be that He will put me in a cab tonight and I will arrive in a place of friendship and safety and warm fellowship.

But one thing is certain — whatever He does, and wherever He does it, is good. I can be content, for He Himself is my great gain.

4 Responses

  1. Holly
    | Reply

    Screenshot ring that last paragraph as a reminder to myself!

    I’m a gardener, canner, wannabe homesteader. Completely relate to your homesteading/gardening trials!!

    • barb
      | Reply

      Goodness! I am automatically a little intimidated by you! Familiar with the Elliott Homestead? Worth a gander.

      • Holly
        | Reply

        I am familiar with the Elliot Homestead! And I think every other homestead on IG!

        No need to be intimidated ~ I’m more talk than action, lol!

        • barb
          | Reply

          Eh, even the talk is pretty impressive. Every time that I have had the privilege of putting my feet under Shaye Elliott’s table, I am seized with a nearly irresistible desire to leave a box of Kraft mac n cheese on the counter when I leave…

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