The farm, a land of broken dreams
Like most life shattering moves, our lives began at the kitchen table. It was a sort of ritual for Hannah and I to sit at the table with our coffee and explore again, and again our dream of moving from the city to a cozy place in the country. Fences were instantly created, vines grew on the timber frame structures that flew together as quickly as we could think about them. Here there were chickens, there a pumpkin patch. Our three children ran freely in this Eden and gave life to the farm. Then reality would begin to creep in, and when the question was finally broached about how to get from here to there, the spell would end and our farm would come crashing to the ground. It’s dangerous to dream.
Yet still every night almost, you could find us huddled in our tiny corner with the weight of the world pressing in on us, forcing us to dream our way out. Escapism is misunderstood. Tolkien once said that, ”Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?…If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
Just as were bowing under the pressure, and the broken pieces of our dreams were laying where we left them, a spark of hope was kindled. Hannah’s sister idly suggested that we get into contact with the Sych’s, a family from their parish who were in need of some help on their bison ranch. With feigned indifference we casually asked to be put into contact, as though opportunities to live out our dreams came every other day. We didn’t dare explore the possibility of success, the chance of failure was too much to bear.
What followed was akin to trench warfare mashed together with soaring joy and excitement. Saul and I had many conversations over the span of about four months leading to finally making the move, and the dream was rekindled into raging fire that chased us out of our new home in Medicine Hat all the way to the long awaited Keystone Ranch.
Moving a family of five anywhere is no small task, doing in on a tiny budget in the middle of renovations was where the trench warfare came in. Hannah met the challenge with such fierceness that I was a little frightened. As I was away either preparing the barn loft to be our new home, or working up North to sustain the ranch, Hannah was taking the kids herself, living at her parents house and fighting through the renovations to sell our century old house.
I’ll save the gory details, but it was a mess. Nothing came together as we expected, weeks stretched to months and tensions were running high. It seemed like a cruel cosmic joke to be closer that’s ever to actually living out our dream of farming, yet to have the family separated. What we didn’t know was how necessary our trial was to change us into the sort of people who can handle the stress of farming. Our dreams, at one point so necessary, had to die if we were to actually live them out. They were like little seeds. If we just clutched onto our vision of how things ought to be, and refused to let our dreams go, they would never become the crops they were always meant to be. First, they had to be planted in soil of trials and die buried underground. Only then could our dreams have life, and take actual form.
Now, I live and work with my family, am home for lunch, and even when I am not with them, I know that they are somewhere on the farm, probably with the chickens or playing outside. What looked like an insane path full of backtracks, detours, and pitfalls has been revealed as a straight route to the farm we’ve always dreamed about. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”