It’s no secret that I love everything about agriculture, farming, animals and basically anything related to country living. I have camo baseball caps, muck boots in my vehicle at all times, antlers on my walls, a giant garden and a bunch of recipes from the farm women in my life.
However, I do not live my life on a farm.
For 18 years I lived and worked and breathed and sweated farm life. I was super anxious to leave and try something new by the time I was ready to graduate high school.
I chose to study at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, one of the three four-year UW’s with a farm. (Big surprise, my brother went to one of the other ones, UW-River Falls. *Just to note, UW-Madison has a lot of ag programming and farm as well.)
Starting out with a psychology major and later, communications, I was so excited to not have to do barn chores every day. But I would always think of my Dad around 4 p.m. every day because it was so ingrained in me to be putting my barn clothes on at that time.
I mean, I went to a school surrounded by huge dairies, rolling fields of corn and hay. I think my subconscious knew I couldn’t handle a life without easy escape into the country. As time went on, I started to look forward to my holidays and summer vacations, because I could leave the stress of school behind and get my hands dirty again.
When I made the switch to communications my sophomore year, it was by urging of my Dad. We were milking cows (yes, our most special convos happen in the barn) and he said I had always been good at writing and speaking, so why not study communications.
So after my Mom was like, “duh,” I changed majors, joined the student newspaper and was assigned my first story… a student-built manure digester at the campus farm. It was like my life locked into place in that moment. I called my parents and they started laughing.
For the next few years, I pursued agricultural journalism. Upon graduation, I even interviewed with the Agriview! (Didn’t get the job, but it was OK.) I ultimately joined a country newspaper in Kewaunee County, which has a bigger population of cows than people. It was perfect.
I started my post-collegiate life living in Green Bay, in an apartment. It was cramped, but good because I learned that I needed open spaces and grass to cut.
For three years we lived in the city, saving up for our chance to get out into the country. All the while, I reported about cattle shows, manure, UW Extension and all the other breaking news, government and business happening along the lakeshore.
Life came to a point where journalism was not serving my goals of working in agriculture. I ended my time with writing, got a job in marketing and then moved into our first home with our own land! It’s not much, and we still have neighbors we can see from our yard, but things are really good.
The work I’m doing is different, complicated and inspiring. With my job, I help run a small marketing agency, and I’m currently working hard to expand our client base into agribusiness and farming. I can feel good things happening and I’m excited to see where it goes.
I also decided to start photographing farms and helping to tell the stories surrounding them. (See below and their story here!)
However, to answer the big question of why I didn’t take over the farm.
This is incredibly complex and hard to answer, as anyone my age who left the farm will tell you. There is a lot of emotion involved. There are financial aspects to consider. Primarily, I have decided, for now, to live off the farm in a life I’m still unsure where it will lead.
Just because I have decided to leave, doesn’t mean that I won’t own cattle someday. It doesn’t mean that I don’t/won’t visit my family farm on every occasion that I can. It doesn’t mean that I don’t support other farmers. It means I’m choosing to live my life this way, and it will definitely change course in the future.
Primarily, I do my best to keep the values and lessons I learned on the farm at the center of my heart. I will walk the walk of a farmer, always. Everything I learned from my parents and grandparents sits with me. The lessons I still have to learn from them are plentiful, and I am curious to see how I can continue live country life in the suburbs.
If any of you are farm kids leaving the farm, please chime in and tell me more about yourself and your decision. I know that I am not alone in my decisions to leave, so please connect!
This is blog 12 of 28 of the #28DaysOfBloggingChallenge! See the Day 1 post for more details on why I’m participating!
Would you like to document your family or farm with heirloom photos and a written story to share with your family, friends and future generations? Contact photographer and writer Alyssa Bloechl for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 920-445-8727.