Rural Middle Tennessee
Our family has owned a small farm in Maury County, Tennessee for over a decade. We grew up in this part of the world, and something about the place has always felt like home. I’ve gleaned many positive lessons from farming. The farm is:
- Made up of rugged hills and hollers.
- Too hot and muggy in the summer, and too cold, wet and raw in the winter.
- Populated with deer flies, horse flies, rattlesnakes, copperheads and water moccasins.
- Composed of rocky, heavy clay soil, which is not much good for growing things.
The farm also:
- Is home to a healthy population of deer, turkeys, skunks, raccoons, bobcats, owls, hawks, bluebirds and, yes, I’ve seen mountain lions.
- Has a creek full of shiners and crawdads.
- Has a pond stocked with bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish.
- Is beautiful, quiet and peaceful.
Our family loves the farm. It is perfect. As it is. Right now, at this moment.
“If Only” Happiness
A recent post, crediting Tara Brach, discussed “if only” happiness. This is a false happiness trap into which we often fall. We will be happy “if only” something happens: we become fit, healthy, loved, financially secure–whatever the case may be. The problem is “if only” happiness doesn’t work. Happiness conditioned upon something external to ourselves is evanescent.
I love the farm. Only recently, however, I realize I’ve fallen victim to “if only” happiness about the farm. Rather than appreciate the farm for all the wonderful things it supplies–deer flies (which I detest) and all–I’ve tried to force alien activities on the farm.
- I’ve tried to grow grapes and make wine. Think about it. Have you ever had first rate wine made from grapes grown in middle Tennessee? The grapes are afflicted, each year, by fungi and Japanese beetles, and the few that survive to become ripe are happily devoured by birds, skunks, snakes, raccoons–all the creatures.
- I’ve tried to build a healthy, sustaining population of quail. Let me tell you, that is close to impossible in middle Tennessee in this day and age.
- I’ve tried to raise trout in the creek. If you don’t know, trout in Tennessee thrive either in tiny creeks high in the Smoky Mountains, or in tailwaters below dams. I was nursing along a small population of trout, until they were discoverd by a river otter. Otters are incredibly effective fish predators.
Much as I love the farm, I thought that “if only” I could raise trout or quail or wine grapes or something, things would be better.
Foolish of me. The farm has taught me this.
Lesson’s From Farming
Wine grapes don’t do well in middle Tennessee; trout don’t survive in middle Tennesse creeks; quail no longer thrive in these parts. Let it go.
Setting my mental, emotional and physical energies against what is good and natural for this part of the world was a bad idea.
Leave well enough alone, as they say, and take pleasure in what is.