Sometimes I wonder how much self-sustainable education my parents could have provided me. I’m not upset that my mother didn’t teach me how to sew or my father teach me how to plant a garden, but sometimes I wish they could have shared some stories with me about their rural upbringing. All of my life I have lived in the city and even attended a local college to get my English degree. My parents and I both shared a dream of me being a successful CEO or college professor. But, like most dreams, it had to change to accommodate a living style greatly hindered by money and other personal issues.
My parents are immigrants from Mexico and left their country when they were teenagers: Mom was 15, Dad 17. Before coming to the US, my father grew up on a ranch that raised cattle, horses, and grew all types of fruits and veggies. The ranch had been part of my dad’s family since before his birth. From there, I only have a foggy memory of my father helping in the slaughter of a boar for some celebration when I was just a wee one. My mother, on the other hand, grew up in a small pueblo and raised chickens, pigs and had an orchard growing in their backyard. I have many memories of visiting her home during the summer. The hibiscus grew thick and figs dangled just in front of your nose; already bursting at the seams with sweet juice. My grandfather took great pride in the massive oranges that would plummet and almost brain you during the summer.
My parents came to the US to seek out better work opportunities. Their rural jobs of tending and working the land switched to cooking and cleaning at static businesses. In time, they moved to the city and got used to a different manner of getting food: purchasing it at the grocery store. Grocery stores are great, honestly. Where else are you going to find duck, buffalo, and venison in one store? Or dragon fruit? And some industrial cleaning supplies. So, my entire upbringing revolved on depending on stores to provide me the food that ate daily. Even now, I still depend on the grocery store to get food. It’s only recently that I gave myself a kick in the pants and make my own yogurt.
I believe that maybe one of the reasons my parents never taught me these rural skills is due to the new environment. Since we were unable to grow our own food in the city, my parents chose to not teach what they know considered an unnecessary skill set. And it’s not just my immediate family. Just last night I shared my homesteading ideas with my cousins and they looked at me like I had two heads. Half the things I’m trying to learn my cousins have never heard about. They kept asking me to add details, explain the profit or gain of learning these skills, etc. I found myself a little frustrated with my own lack of knowledge and had to review a lot of videos last night.
I’m not too upset by not knowing all of this anyway. I refuse to fault my parents for my upbringing; they sacrificed their adolescence to ensure they had a better living situation and the best opportunities for their children. Even so, I used to be convinced that a city girl such as myself with a college degree would be unable to raise or grow their own food. Not because I’m educated in the fine art of literature. But because my upbringing made me naive to the rural lifestyle. I never knew what it meant to compost. I didn’t even consider that rabbits can’t eat lawn clippings (so bad for them, the grass ferments quickly and can kill their system). But with the cucumbers growing in my garden and the bunnies hopping in their hutch, I got over that hump really quickly. Further, my degree of choice had me focusing more on the farmer poet’s choice of diction rather than his work ethic or skill set.
My husband, on the other hand, still struggles with the aspect of money. We have a running joke where I’ll be watching a homestead video and he’ll cry out, “I can’t own a cow! I didn’t go to college!” We do this to help him ease into this idea that just because he didn’t get a college degree, doesn’t mean he can’t own land or his own animals some day. We both grew up in households that held education to the highest degree of respect. We were taught that the best paying jobs go to college graduates. This is not necessarily true, but this is what I believed for about 15 years or my life. It was this encouragement that pushed me to graduate from college a year in advance, while Alex rebelled and chased a dream to own land in Chile. After we got married, we both refocused on our desire to own just one, just ONE acre, and work it to the best of our ability. Hopefully, the Universe will be kind and grant us the opportunity.
Can you own a cow if you didn’t go to college? I don’t see why not. I have an uncle who works in construction and owns five Brangus cattle and one donkey. He breeds pure-bred German Shepherds and sells them for some extra income. Considering this, I may be living in a personal situation where hard work, like it has always been in my life, will help me achieve this insane dream.
As always, be kind and tender to one another.
Enjoy this lit poem below: