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Living the Dream

It’s 5:17 a.m. on a Monday and I’m reading the news.

The first headline I saw was “Living the Dream.”

I’m always ready to find out what I’m missing, so with one click, I found an article about how hard it is to get into farming, because land is so expensive. The quote that caught my eye was something like, “...if you see a young farmer has bought some land, it’s probably the parents who bought it.”

That’s a change. We were twenty-six when we bought our first land, with no financial help from anyone. Of course, that was a horrible decision, because three years later the land was worth half what we paid, and we spent another decade or so climbing out of the hole we'd dug.

But that’s another story.

Toward the end of the article, a young woman who had managed to buy a few acres near the Twin Cities for vegetable farming with her family said, “Someday I’d like to build a house and live out here. That’s the dream.”

Living the dream all these years and I didn’t even know it, and back when the wind blew out of the northeast and made the yard smell of a thousand or so hogs, no one else probably suspected it either. Now that my chores are gathering a few eggs and checking to see if the cider is fermenting, it seems I’m a little closer to the dream, though strictly speaking, that’s not the case.

About three decades ago we were building a new access road to our grain bins and needed dirt and clay for fill. Our youngest daughter suggested we dig a pond for swimming, making it a win/win. We called it Lake Elizabeth in her honor and there was one idyllic summer of swimming and quietly floating in the shade of surrounding trees. Then eggs came into the pond on the feet of traveling ducks and the swimming hole filled up with leeches. So, that ended. We did have one sweet summer, and the ducks still love it. Now it’s the ducks that are living the dream.

When we bought that land in 1980, I thought we were living the dream, but then the situation became somewhat of a nightmare. It works the other way as well.

Around this time of year 139 years ago, a huge tornado hit southeastern Minnesota. In particular, the town of Rochester was targeted, with one third of the buildings destroyed, 30 people killed and hundreds more injured. A local doctor and his two young sons worked together with a group of nuns to care for the injured. After things were sorted out, the Mother Superior went to the doctor and said the town really needed a hospital. He didn’t believe it to be a good idea but found it hard to say no to a nun, so he told her if the sisters raised $40,000, he’d build and help run a hospital. Four years later, they had the money and the first week it was open the new hospital saw nine patients. Times change, and now the Mayo Clinics see over one million patients each year.

What’s the lesson? I don’t know. My dream of owning land turned into a disaster and in Rochester, a nightmare turned into a miracle.

I suppose what I’m saying is that no matter what, you need to keep working.

And dreaming.

Copyright 2022 Brent Olson

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