Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Sustaing fantasy in the Ozarks
Reflecting on my life-long fantasy of living somewhere in the country. Perhaps more extravagant than bees, what about alpacas or angora rabbits? Since Sue Hubbell wrote the following in 1983 there may be permanent changes ala Winter's Bone even in the Ozark landscape. Sad to say.
"I find the hopeful bee-agribusiness visitors touching and appealing; many of them are young and they bring out the mother in me. They are often working at dull jobs they do not like, and the idea of owning a bee farm in the country is a sustaining fantasy. I try not to discourage them, but sometimes I have to. Almost any kind of farming dooms newcomers to bankruptcy these days, particularly bee farming, because of the market conditions. About the only quicker way to go broke right now is to raise pigs, so when a man came to seek my advice a month ago and told me he was ready to spend ten years’ worth of savings from a factory job to buy a farm where he would raise bees and pigs, I had to admit it was the worst idea I had heard in a long time. He went away saddened; I don’t know whether he bought the farm or not.
The Ozarks, wild, undeveloped, inhospitable, keep being discovered. A lot of people who figured it was better to be poor in the country moved here during the 1930s; others, richer, thought FDR was the devil incarnate and wanted to put their wealth in land before he could take it away from them. Since then waves of people who find the cities too complicated have come here, meaning to lead lives of simplicity. What they have not yet discovered is that a life is as simple or as complicated as the person living it, and that people who have found life in the city over-whelming will find it even more so here, where it is much harder to make a living. When a person has money coming in regularly, his mistakes may make hi unhappy but they do not threaten his survival. Here, where there is little money, every decision counts and there is no room for mistakes."
* Bees in pic belong to John Eddy who keeps bees in the very urbane, urban Cos Cob, CT