The backstory

For over 13 years my husband, Dan, and I have talked about the day we would own a farm. If you know my husband, it’s no surprise. He grew up on a farm, raising Hampshire pigs and Black Angus cattle. He often reminisces about the days when baby pigs would climb on his lap grunting and nudging out of curiosity. His stories are full of nightmare close calls with death (many which make me cringe as a mother), and hilarious recounts of the stupid mistakes he made, like catching the hay baler on fire. Numerous times. Though his memories are full of long days hauling hay and unyielding hot sun, he remembers it fondly.

When he first suggested we should one day live on a farm, I literally laughed. “Me? On a farm? Is there a Chipotle nearby? Is there even a Starbucks within 30 minutes? Not typically? COUNT ME OUT!” He knew he was in an uphill battle but he never relented. I believe he actually made the decision long ago, and knew eventually I would come around.

Times Square in New York City in 2008
Dan and Samantha Shepard in Times Square

Our first several years as a married couple, we lived in Queens, NY. We lived the typical crazy life as New Yorkers and loved every minute. We commuted every day with millions of others into Manhattan. Drank coffee by the gallons to survive 12 hours of work, commute home and do it all over again the next day. It was exhilarating and the best possible way to spend our 20s.

During the holidays we would travel back to Missouri to see family. I always noticed the minute I stepped foot onto his family farm how my blood pressure would go down. The days seemed longer and the quiet was peaceful. As the years ticked by in our marriage, I started to regard the farm as a peaceful retreat. I still never thought I could own a farm but I was coming around to the idea.

Starting a family is what ultimately changed my mind. I already had succumbed to the plan on the outside. I told friends and family of “our dreams”. I spoke about this “farm” we would one day run with a determined voice. Inside, I wasn’t so sure. I wasn’t committed to a “farm life”. I was committed to having land and maybe one day a big farmhouse. Animals? I told myself the farming would be Dan’s responsibility. I wouldn’t get too involved.

Then we had our first child. All of a sudden I noticed things around me which previously seemed benign. Thirteen year old girls with bra straps exposed at the park. Snapchat. News stories of kids dying while taking some drug called “Molly”. Spoiled kids with iPhones. Miley Cyrus. Twerking. Children running up and down the aisles at stores unsupervised. Michael Jackson.

It was too much.

Kids are supposed to be kids. They need space. When I was young, we had space. You could ride your bike around your neighborhood for hours without any worries. Parents would open the door and tell you to go outside and play. Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if you got arrested for letting your kid be unsupervised all day. It’s madness.

The farm, though, was a different story. Kids were expected to work outside. Chores is what they call them. I wanted that for my kids. I wanted them to have chores. I wanted them to have room to still be creative. What’s a childhood without those stories of the time you decided to dig a hole to China? Or scraped your leg from climbing too high in a tree. Then proceeded to pick that scab for the next week (my personal favorite). I started to picture our kids running free on land that didn’t end, under skies of never-fading blue.

And so we resolved together to create this reality.

So there we were. Two people with resolve. As it turns out, resolve is really all it takes.

Up next, I’ll tell you a little bit more about how we discovered Summit View Farm and the arduous process of buying it. (This is where the resolve part really came into play.)

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