City Girl/Country Girl

I was raised in Takoma Park, Maryland, just a few miles outside of Washington, DC.  I went to the University of Maryland, got married and raised two children in Silver Spring, Maryland—another suburban community.  

So how did a “city girl” end up with the dream of living on a horse farm? 

Northern Bob-white

I’ve wanted to live in the country since I was old enough to remember visits to my grandparents’ farm in rural North Carolina.  My grandfather always had a huge garden, cows, and an old mule named Jim.  I loved waking up to the sounds of the Bob-white birds and the cows lowing in the pasture.    

It was quite a contrast to the noises of our Takoma Park neighborhood.  We lived across the street from an elementary school (buses mornings and afternoons) and close to the firehouse (sirens any time of the day or night). 

At my grandparents' farm, it was rare to hear a car on the gravel road.  

So many images and events come back when I think of the farm.  On one visit when I was around 7 or 8, my grandfather had a large hog named Sally.  I was thrilled when my grandfather told me I could help “slop the hog.”   For three days, I dutifully carried the bucket of food scraps and tossed the contents into Sally’s pen.   On our next visit several months later, Sally was gone.  I asked Papo where Sally had gone and he told me that she had run away.   It was a few more years before I realized that all that meat hanging in the smokehouse and the bacon and sausage we enjoyed for breakfast came from the supposedly vagabond Sally.  

The fields at Greenville Farm in Haymarket, Virginia
Fast forward to my early teens.  My sister had saved up enough money to buy a horse and she field-boarded Shandy at the 200-acre Greenville Farm in Haymarket, Virginia for the grand sum of $25 a month.  Even then, it was very expensive to board a horse at stables close to home.

Part of the Haymarket farm was devoted to the Greenville Farm Family Campground. My parents purchased a trailer and we spent many family weekends camping.   Those weekends were my opportunity to ride and relish being on a farm again.  It wasn’t possible to enjoy the same quiet of my grandparents’ farm because of all the campground guests, but riding across the rolling pastures seemed like the nearest thing to heaven to me.

Unfortunately, Sandy died three years after we got him.  My parents sold the trailer and my weekends in the country vanished.    

The years went by quickly.  Working and raising children didn’t leave me much time to think about country living until I met Brenda, who owns a home in the Shenandoah Valley.  Her beautiful 7-acre property is surrounded by horse and cattle farms.  There it was again—that persistent desire to be a farm girl.  The feeling was stronger than ever because I felt so at peace in the country.

Millhaven Horse Farm's tiki hut
By 2012, I had adopted Queenie and found myself lingering at the boarding barn after everyone had left in the evenings so I could sit under the “tiki hut” and watch the waning light over the pastures.  My children were grown and in college and graduate school.  My born-and-bred New York City husband was not the least bit interested in moving to the country, having horses, and doing all the work that a farm entails.  My dream seemed to be withering away.

But a stroke of luck made it a realization.  My friend, Phoebe found a nearby barn to board her horse, Deja that was much less expensive than our current facility.  She decided to move Deja.  Where Phoebe goes, so do I.  I met with the owner of the new barn and as we were touring the facilities, she mentioned that there was an apartment in the barn.  I said longingly, “I’ve always wanted to live on a farm.”  She said that the apartment may be for rent again soon because the current tenant had been caught smoking in the barn several times (!!!!).

Sure enough, the barn owner asked the smoker to leave.  When I emailed the owner to say I would be moving Queenie, she mentioned that the apartment was available.  I drove over immediately and completed the application and gave them a deposit.  Finally, I was going to live on a farm! 

In December 2012, I became a country girl!  And what can I say? I’ve been there for over a year and I love every second of it.  It’s been a crash course in horse ownership and learning about the day-to-day management of a farm.  I cannot even begin to tell you what I’ve seen and learned but I will share some of the stories in future posts.  

I’m often reminded of that 1960’s sitcom, Green Acres and the opening verse of the theme song.
“Green Acres is the place to be,  
Farm living is the life for me,  
Land spreading out so far and wide,    
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.”

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