I’m going to share a bunch of ideas we’ve discussed for this farm. In case you’re new here, we purchased a farm that is currently a perennial plant nursery and a gift shop. We did not purchased the actual business, though, so we have been considering all manner of proposals. This has been fun, especially for someone like me who is a squirrel and scampers after anything shiny.
Some of these scenarios are larks. Some are more plausible. See if you can tell the difference.
OPTION ONE: FARM FRESH LAUNDRY AND LINENS
Call me naive, but I am so excited to have a clothesline, to chomp on clothespins, to hear the snap of clean sheets in the wind. Maybe I will take in washing. I’ve always loved ironing. On the side, I will sell antique linens and dishtowels. Oxyclean will become my official sponsor.
Downside: My hands would look like tree bark.
OPTION TWO: SWEATY BETTY’S BOOKS AND JOE
We will open a bookshop. We will sell coffee, hot donuts with maple glaze and candied bacon, and there will be jazz. I will lead a monthly book discussion which will be no charge but there will be rules. Every participant will receive one colored card which they hold up when they wish to make a comment. If their comment is annoying and/or not of general interest, they forfeit the card until next month. Whoever offers the most erudite remark in the fewest words will receive a free carton of eggs.
Downside: Lots of visitors but few buyers.
OPTION THREE: ALI ASGHAR’S AGUA CALIENTE (Fermented in Wisconsin)
We will make cherry vodka from the Cornelian cherry tree behind the barn. We will sell it in pretty bottles packaged with vintage glasses. The image on the label will be humorous. It will contain references to our combined Iranian-Colombian heritage. We will travel to Farmer’s Markets in ole Betty (pictured above) and sell out of the back while sitting in rocking chairs and talking about the weather.
Downside: But I can’t drink!
OPTION FOUR: MITHRA’S MUSEUM OF MENNONITE MURDER AND MAYHEM
Starting in September, we will harvest Martha Stewart pumpkins and run a haunted hay ride with a different theme every year. The inaugural year will be something about Amish zombies. We will hire people like us, who think there’s nothing more heartwarming than the sight of a mom using her kid as a human shield against an undead Mennonite.
Downside: It’s all fun and games till someone shoots your eye out.
OPTION FIVE: PERSIAN PRAIRIE FETA
We will raise sheep and I will fulfill a lifelong dream of making my own feta cheese. This will require frequent trips to France to purchase Celtic sea salt, which is hand-raked in Bretagne. I will also need a donkey because they are good at protecting sheep. My dad will be the feta taste tester. He will wear a starched white lab jacket. My mom will hand him samples, like a good nurse, and record his ratings. They will speak in Farsi when the health inspector shows up.
Downside: Do Cheeseheads even eat feta?
OPTION SIX: RITER’S RETREAT FOR WAY-WORD WOMEN
We will throw open the gate to any artist of any kind who wants to come hang out. Plein air painting days, writing retreats, gallery nights, poetry slams, pottery workshops, etc. The upstairs of the barn will be a studio for freelance product photography with great lighting, props galore, and an array of backdrops. In the winter, I’ll take over the studio to make stop-motion films starring my fingerpuppets. I’m thinking a knitted version of Groundhog Day.
Downside: Everyone is sick of the fingerpuppets.
The scary part of all this ideation is that my husband and I are gung-ho to try every one of these propositions. We have not tasted enough bitter fruit in life. Or, maybe it is more true that the sweetness never fades.
All my life, people have let me play. My mother, my camp counselors, my high school yearbook advisor, each and every one of my bosses. I come up with an idea; I include lots of concrete detail, as if there is a logical sequence to accomplishing my idea; I ask the person sitting across from me, the one whose buy-in I need, for their input; I incorporate their suggestions; and then, the most irresistible part, the Julie Andrews skipping and singing on her way to her governess job part, I swing my guitar case in the air, and sing, “I have confidence in sunshine… I have confidence in me!”
On the other hand, there’s plenty to do by doing nothing. The extensive perennial beds require constant care. The sheep shed needs a new roof. The glass house leaks and wants a paint job. A woodchuck went a little berserk and dug several tunnels under the chicken coop. The farmhouse is adorable (pics soon!) but the electrical needs upgrading, the kitchen could be improved, the porches are sagging, and we are considering a/c. I’m sure the list will grow.
E.B. White, who is a new source of inspiration (and consolation) said, “Farming is about twenty per cent agriculture and eighty per cent mending something that has got busted. Farming is a sort of glorified repair job.”
Okay, if you’ve made it down here, you must have an opinion of all these dance moves we’re trying in the mirror. Tell me, in which of these scenarios are we awkwardly kicking like Elaine Benes and in which are we John Travolta and Uma Thurman winning Jack Rabbit Slim’s Dance Contest.