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How My IG Farm Life Fantasy Was Crushed in One Week

happy farm family

We've all fantasized about a life unknown... maybe somewhere far, far away. Or maybe an environment so different from what you grew up knowing. It's always been common in the old-school movies to be the rural kid who idolizes life in the big city. But for many young adults now, it has become quite the opposite. Through the lens of social media, and specifically Instagram, we're now allowed to get a tiny glimpse into what a simpler life might look like. Impossibly beautiful families have amassed millions of followers displaying their day-to-day existence rearing happy children, making homemade sourdough, petting sweet animals, and picking fresh vegetables, all from just outside the door of their chic, modern farmhouse that looks like it could be out of Architectural Digest. Is their life real? Is it attainable? Is it as good as it seems? You can't help but wonder.

The hustle and bustle I grew up accustomed to seems to be engrained into my DNA. I was born in a medium-sized city in Connecticut, just 45 miles from Manhattan, and went to college up in Boston. I came back from school and worked in NYC, while establishing myself back in my hometown of Stamford, where I eventually settled and bought my first home. After living closer to the action downtown in a condo, my husband and I started our family in a house in the northern section of town. This area is considered pretty rural compared to the rest of the more city and suburban neighborhoods nearby. There's a lot of land to be had, tons of privacy, and plenty of impressive, multi-million dollar estate-style homes. My husband and I both have been running our own businesses for over a decade. The stress has been unbearable at times, and many days left me wondering if the real dream was far away from the big city where I could raise my family in a much more slow-paced and peaceful environment.

I imagined myself having horses, gardening, picking fresh eggs for breakfast, and raising adorable little farm kids who were healthy and happy, with so much space and fresh air to grow up and play. I got a little closer to visualizing my dream recently when we did a big family trip to Florida. I was connected with a realtor based in Tampa that was tasked with the tall order of finding us 50+ acres where we could spread out and manifest it all. We booked our travel, and two weeks later, I stepped foot on my first potential farm home on the outskirts of the Tampa Bay Area. Except, it was nothing I thought it would be. In fact, it was hilariously awful and humbling at the same time.

First off, have you ever actually stood at the entrance of endless acres of farm property before? Like, one that someone actually lives at? Because apparently I haven't. And it was overwhelming. The land goes on and on! Most of it burnt, brown, and dead-looking, with patches of crabgrass throughout. One of my husband's first thoughts was, "who the hell is supposed to maintain this?" In order to have that much land looking like the lush, green pastures you'd see in a movie, you'd have to put in a tremendous amount of work daily. See also: a wildly intricate (and expensive) irrigation system installment and/or hours of work caring for the landscape yourself or through the use of hired help. I couldn't imagine us having the time to do that with two kids under two and a third on the way in a matter of months.

Also, it's desolate. Like, no one can hear you scream type vibes. What I thought would be awe-inspiring and peaceful, was actually terrifying in ways that made my heart race involuntarily. I don't think I've ever experienced what life that isolated might be like. And we were no more than an hour from Downtown Tampa! But this is how rural it can get quickly in some parts of the country. I have never really seen this where I'm from. I don't think I could survive day in and day out in a vast bubble of land like that!

Okay, but what about the animals? Surely they will provide the soothing, calming feeling I was seeking! After visiting many farm properties during our 10-day long search, I can tell you, it ain't what it's cracked up to be. All it took was me glaring over at a middle-aged woman shoveling shit (LITERAL SHIT) around a barn to say, "couldn't be me!" Bruh... the animals smelled wild. Like have you seen adult pigs in real life? Covered in feces with swarms of flies around them? NO THANKS. Do you have any idea how hard it is to care for a couple little goats? Because I found out, and it doesn't quite seem worth it for me. Do you know how much work and expense it is to properly feed cows a nutritious diet? Get all the animals regular veterinary check-ups? Safely house them? Milk them? Keep them clean so they're sanitary? Getting them cared for if you spend a day or more away? And imagine doing all this and more for a hobby farm, which I realized is ultimately what I was looking to do. (As opposed to a working farm which sells their beef and animal/harvested products for a hopeful profit.) AKA: It's mostly a money pit, which I didn't consider. Oh and there's also the fact that apparently my childhood allergies have grown exponentially, and within 30 minutes of being around these animals, my throat began closing up, I was having trouble breathing, my eyes were watering, and I almost completely lost the ability to speak. We legitimately questioned whether I needed medical attention. (I waited it out, and in a couple hours in the fresh air of the beach after, all of my symptoms thankfully resolved.) BUT, all that to say, thank God I am not some sort of trust fund baby that funded this unrealistic dream, sight-unseen. Not only do I have a tremendous amount of respect for professional farmers (and hobby farmers alike), but I for sure know that it is not something that is best for me in this phase of my existence.

Does this mean I'll never be destined for the farm life fantasy? Maybe not. There are plenty of things I thought I'd never do (including getting married and having children!) that changed, so I never say never anymore. But did I completely and totally glamorize a lifestyle I didn't remotely understand through the peep hole of Instagram enough to think it was the gateway to the next phase of my happy life? Oh yes, yes I did. I hope this honest story made you laugh and helped provide some additional perspective and consideration to where you're currently at in life, where you want to be, and where you think you want to go - knowing all those things may not always be what they seem. With a little first-hand experience and research, it's amazing how many questions you can answer for yourself. For now, I think a few acres of private homestead near a city-center with enough room for my kids to play and our family to grow into, will do. Hey, I might even get really crazy and become a chicken mom too! You just never know...


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