There’s a guy I grew up with who has an amazing farm and homesteading business, the kind of thing you might read about in a Booker Prize winning novel set on the prairie with a strong female lead, or Pinterest. He and his wife are always posting photos of the animals they raise and the things they grow and the fuzzy things she makes from their sheep and whatever else she can lay her crafty little hands on, without using a kilowatt of electricity. Some days, I can smell the homemade herb bread and the wood burning stove in their farmhouse just by looking at the crocheted baby hats she whipped up. There are no babies for miles. She just can’t stop herself.
I have become Kathy Bates-y obsessed over this couple and their farm. The fact that they started out as regular people is added intrigue. He was with me in the redhead alliance — population 7 — in our graduating class, and she was just another clarinet player in band. Forty odd years later and they’re Chip and Joanna Gaines without the shiplap.
Last Christmas, while I was scanning the As Seen on TV gadgets to buy for my holiday shopping list, she was showing off a 7-foot-tall pine tree she had handcrafted from wool feathers, whatever those are. It was so beautiful. I cried a little bit.
So I’m basically living one of my dream lives through a couple I don’t know very well. Thanks to the magic and vicariousness of social media, I can pretend that I’m making my own soap out of oatmeal that I grew and milled myself and honey that I harvested from hives out back. And I can picture me making a tote out of my husband’s old flannel shirt. And knitting an afghan out of yarn that I hand-dyed. With dye I brewed over an open fire. And wool that I sheared from one of my lambs that morning.
“Rendering lard!” was the caption on a picture I saw one morning when I logged onto Facebook. Checking out this family farm’s posts had become my new favorite thing to do to feed my fantasy of being a recurring character on The Waltons.
“Damnit! She’s got a loom set up in the corner of their dining room!” I whined to my husband.
“So? You’ve got an overpriced champagne riddler in yours,” he said, “which you insisted on buying and lugging home. Do you know how many bottles of actual champagne we could have bought with that money?”
The only reason I wanted that champagne riddler was because he got a bourbon barrel from a distillery in Kentucky. “We’ll never be the Gainses,” my husband said. “We’re too competitive in all the wrong ways.”
“Forget the Gainses, we’re never going to be this real life couple,” I said, turning my laptop around so he could see pictures of the interior of their barn, with a reading corner made from a hollowed out vintage backhoe. “We spend too much money on booze and not enough on goats. We need to get our act together.”
Donuts! a post exclaimed. Homemade, of course, with cinnamon finely shaved off the stick grown in raised beds and dried in the designer fruit cellar.
Hand rolled beeswax candles!
Mini jam pies made in my grandmother’s pans!
Loved the wool feather Christmas tree so much, I made one for Easter! Getting the right shade of pastel pink dye from our homegrown beets was a challenge!
“Oh come on! When does this chick fall asleep in front of the TV?”
Truth is, I don’t think we can ever be them. For one thing, he’s a car buff and has a muscle car the color of the surface of the sun and just as shiny. We can’t remember what year our car is. He also has a climbing rope in his barn that makes me think we had just as little in common in grade school, too. When our line marched into the gym on PE day and I saw those mats set up and that noose hanging there, my bowels seized up. Re-creating that in adulthood would be torture for me. He did it just for fun. And she . . . she apparently doesn’t need to eat or sleep, let alone play hours of WordBrain on her phone.
“I’m calling it a day,” I said to my husband, closing my laptop and the book on my fantasy farm life. “Let me know when you find it in your heart to buy a flannel shirt and only then will I start to look for patterns for that tote bag. Until then, pour me a glass of champagne, city boy.”
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