Hobby Farm: Not Many Hobbies

Have you ever been inside a Hobby Lobby? The first time I went, I was very disappointed. They didn’t have anything that remotely resembled my hobbies. No power tools. No commemorative spoons. And no postage stamps.

Well, moving to a hobby farm is a lot like walking into a Hobby Lobby.

Because I live on a hobby farm, you’d think my stamp collection would be organized by now.

Heck, one of the main reasons my wife and I moved out of St. Paul was so we’d have more time for hobbies, like modern Albanian interpretive dance, drainage ditch snorkeling, and soccer – or as it’s known in Europe: “American soccer.”

Now we’ve got five acres down here on the Minnesota-Iowa border, and my stamp collection is shoved in the back of a crawlspace, and we haven’t worn our snorkel masks since last year’s spring flood in the basement when we were looking for the washing machine.

The thing we didn’t understand when we bought our hobby farm was that you don’t get to do your old hobbies on a hobby farm. None of them.

You get to do a bunch of new hobbies. Now, some cynical folks would call these new hobbies “chores”, but to be honest: would you buy a place called a chore farm? Of course, not. The real estate agent stopped short of calling the property a Fun! Fun! Fun! Farm, so at least we were half-prepared.

All of the new backbreaking chores hobbies are very rewarding, though. Like birdwatching.

We do a lot of birdwatching. Chickens are birds. We have thirteen laying hens, and they have their own outdoor yard behind the barn. We watch them a lot. We call their open area Chicken Wonderland.

Do a little dance. Make a little love. Get bock-bock tonight.

They run up to us like toddler t-rex dinosaurs. They’re so excited to see us – well, they’re excited to see if they can rip off one of my fingers if I don’t feed them their scratch seed fast enough. And God forbid if you’re a mouse in the chicken coop. It’s like Jurassic Park in there.

Chickens will chase down mice like a velociraptor hunting a Hollywood actor.

Another chore hobby is tree identification, as in: what the heck kind of tree did I plant there last year?

We’ve been planting a lot of trees and shrubs over the past two years. Some for windbreaks but a lot for nuts and berries.

Hoping we didn’t plant any of these naughty pines.

We’re talking about a lot of trees. 700. That may sound pretty cool to you if you’ve never planted 700 trees, but here’s the thing: 700 trees need 700 holes dug. It’s moments like those when I look up across the landscape and think, “God I wish I had kids so they could dig all these holes.”

Fitting postage stamps into cellophane protective sleeves sure sounds pretty good when your back is aching and your shovel is like a magnet for all the big rocks in the field.

And then some idiot (me) ordered more another 100 trees and shrubs again this year. But I guess I’m a masochist tree-enthusiast.

The one hobby we did bring with us from our city life was gardening. Now we just have a much bigger garden, especially when you realize that dandelions are actually really nutritious.

I’m one of those Johnny Appleseed types – do you know that story? Johnny Appleseed had a bag full of apples and he went around the countryside, spreading his seed, and then an entire generation of farm kids looked just like him.

The face of the next generation in rural Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In all seriousness, moving out of the city to the middle of nowhere was the best move we could have made. It’s definitely not for everyone, and there’s a lot of stuff we had to learn with more to learn in the future. It was always a dream of ours to have a little land and raise as much of our own food as we could, but doing it – actually making the leap – was tough.

But we did it, and it’s been two years of enjoying our new chores hobbies in the middle of nowhere. Plus the State of Minnesota pays us to keep those sneaky Iowegians from sneaking across the border.

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If you like Minnesota-based humor, please check out Minnesota Up the Back Door! It’s burning up the charts on Amazon right now, and you wouldn’t want to be the one crazy cat lady at book club who gets left out of the conversation.

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