The other week while we were visiting Connecticut, we went down to the local dairy farm to pick up some milk. While my brother in law went into the shop, Ben and I took a look around the farm with the kids. We peeked into a little barn and noticed it was filled with little calves: the youngest was just two days old! The farmer spotted us right away and offered that we could go in and look around.
The kids walked from stall to stall and named every single little calf in the barn. I chatted with the farmer. Born and raised on this little farm, he is a third generation dairy farmer. We walked around the barn and he told me the story of each calf. Some were born at dawn, others in the evening. There were difficult deliveries and easy ones, and he remembered the exact details of each and every one. He told me the breed and intended purpose of each animal.
He also told me about the difficulty of making the economics of a farm work. His daughters opened up the shop as an effort to bring in some more income. This past year he left the farm for exactly one night. When I asked him about vacation, he just smiled. "What's that?"
I have spent many years of my life dreaming of living on a farm. Once, I almost convinced Ben to make the big move. Who knows, maybe one of these days we'll keep some chickens. But these days, my idealization of farm life has mellowed into a deep respect for the people who make our food. It's hard work, and for that they have my gratitude.