Monday, March 23, 2009

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

I like to imagine what traveling must have been like a hundred years ago. No extensive, high-speed train networks that are always on time. No internet with which to make reservations. No detailed, interactive maps and tourism offices with staff that speak several languages. Steamer trunks instead of rolling suitcases. Thinking of this makes me very grateful that I can book train tickets online months in advance and have them mailed to my door (even if the SNCF website is a little capricious at times). But there are also unpleasant things that have to be dealt with that I imagine were not an issue 100 years ago.

Namely, the degree of bureaucracy on both sides of the pond (if you've ever had to apply for a visa you know exactly what I mean here). The number of papers that need to be filled out in triplicate, the reference numbers, the dossiers...all of this is almost enough to make you want to just stay at home. But I didn't stay at home. I ran the obstacle course and apparently did something right because here I am.

Which brings me to today. On April 8th I will have to register for my courses for next semester. This is a bit funny to me as I have only recently experienced the French style of registration which involves not registering until March for classes that you have hypothetically been taking since January after figuring out whether these classes actually exist, and if they exist when and where they occur, and then there's the nasty business of figuring out the course numbers, but we won't go there. I don't want to stress you all out too badly. It's Monday, after all.

So I'm trying to figure out what classes I need to take, and it turns out that I have precious few classes left. As in, I could probably get done in one more semester. Ah! The real world! Shut your eyes, my dear child, the light is far too bright! So, I'm planning on making my remaining classes last two semesters so I can graduate with most everyone else, and at the same time continue to work on the farm. But here I am, on the verge of my senior year at college, looking into the abyss of, gulp, adulthood, and yet I'm really really happy.

I'm happy that I have a job I love that will be waiting for me when I get home, where I am needed and (hopefully) wanted. I'm happy to be part of a grand experiment--starting a small business (this will no doubt be a slow process, and I will probably be working on the farm where I am now for a few years at least), a small farm. I'm excited about everything I have left to learn. Will I succeed? That's what I have to find out. It's strange that I feel so confident and sure of myself as I approach the end of my college life, but since I've discovered my passion I feel unshakeable.

For all practical purposes, college is like a constant party. I don't mean literally, although I do know some people who try to, literally, achieve that. But, honestly, you live on a campus, attend club meetings, swing by the gym, laze about in the afternoons, write some papers and do some research, have lunch at the caf, sleep until noon on the weekends, hang out in between classes with friends. It's a pretty luxurious life. Leaving the college nest is a bit frightening because right now we all like to sit around and theorize. We have our morals and our big ideas of how things should be and how people should live, but I imagine that things will change pretty quickly once we're out in the reality of things.

You should understand some things about my aspirations. I want to be a cheesemaker, first of all. I want goats and maybe eventually some cows and sheep. I would also like a substantial garden (maybe even enough to start a CSA), beehives, fruit trees and bushes, llamas and alpacas, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, pigs...I'm leaving some things out, but you get it. I want everything. I know it can be done, and I've always been stubborn, so I think I will succeed, but then there's always a grain of doubt in my mind. What if....? Right now I'm just thinking about it, reading helpful blogs about farming and books about farming and talking to actual farmers. But when I get out there on my own, what will happen? Drought? Flood? Late frost? Dogs to eat the chickens? Parasite problems in the goats? No doubt all of these things will happen. Therein lies the danger of farming--you have all the forces of nature working against (or for) you.

But that is also what attracts me to the profession. Always something to keep you guessing, to keep you reading, to keep you learning, to keep you moving, to wake you up at 4 a.m., to keep you up until 3 a.m.. In short, I am a woman obsessed and ready for anything. Bring on senior year!

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