Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Leaving The Farm For The City

January 1, 2001

About having regrets: "I felt closer to the soil, closer to nature, closer to God."

"It is a lifestyle that couldn't be beat while you are living it. We worked ourselves. It was a good, clean life. We had more of a family feeling out there, all by ourselves. We appreciated our neighbors."

"We miss driving through the cows and calves, seeing how big the calves were. We would pat ourselves on the back and take pride in what we had accomplished together."

"We used to go to town to dance once a month with our friends. Now there is no way to unload. We are more lonesome, much more alone. We are more involved with our work. We used to depend on neighbors and friends to get some things done. We had a lot of camaraderie. Now we depend on ourselves only."

"We miss the quietness, the peaceful feeling, the animal noises."

"I miss the relaxing time when I would get on a horse and be by myself or to sit back with a cup of coffee and let the work go."

On city life: "I couldn't sleep the first three nights. There were jets, freight trains, motorcycles, sirens, dogs and loud pipes. It was even hard for me to concentrate during the day."

"When I went outside, I thought I had four neighbors watching every move I made."

"My children and I aren't involved in projects together. The opportunities are not there."

"We were spoiled. My husband and I did everything together. Now we can't. It is a different way of living."

"I am not as sympathetic to others as I used to be. I've been through a lot. I don't expect sympathy and it is hard for me to give it for what I consider to be minor bellyaches."

"There is more to do - restaurants, movies, malls, more choices in people. When we go back to the cafe in our old home town, we see the same people sitting in the same places, telling the same stories."

"We are more involved in church and kids' activities. That is what has kept us together."

Adjustment of children: "It took about nine months for our teenager to adjust. It wasn't until he had friends who wanted to do things with him after school or on weekends that he felt like he belonged. He has as nice or nicer friends than he had in the town we came from. We also like the fact that he is being exposed to a wider variety of successful adults."

"Our daughter has really found her niche here - piano, voice and horn lessons - things she couldn't do before. She loves it. Our boys miss the horses, climbing trees and all the room to roam. They have a lot more friends to play with now. Before they were lucky to have one or two."

Growth experiences: "There is more flexibility between my husband and myself. Our roles aren't as rigid. He is helping more. It was hard for me to accept the fact that my family wasn't depending on me as much. We've had our differences and we've worked things out. We are finding out a lot about each other."

"I always wanted to go back to college. I wouldn't have done it back there (rural community located far from college)."

"I feel intellectually challenged. I feel like a separate person for the first time. I am not just a wife and a mother. I see possibilities and I say to myself, 'I can be that too.’"

"It made me realize what I could do in life. I was more capable than I thought. I gained new confidence. I got out of that little world I was in." -Ex-farm woman talking about going back to college.

"I always had a boss - my dad. Being off the farm and away from the family has given us a new lease on life. From now on, it will be 'our' mistakes. We depend on ourselves but it is good for us."

"We are far enough away that we have to make new friends. It takes time to feel someone’s trust. We are learning that we have a lot in common with others here. If we make the first move, people are friendly and receptive."

"I looked forward to college. It is a break. It keeps me from thinking of other things. I want to make a clean cut, to be away from agriculture."- male in his 40s

Reflections on old and new life. "We have memories we’d never give up. It is healthy to think about it, to talk about it. It can be fun."

"Going from a position of having everything you wanted to poverty is a heck of a change."

"How fast time has flown. How quickly we adjust. Time begins to heal."

"If we had stayed, it would have been worse."

"When we go back, it is nothing but `doom and gloom.’ The main subject is who is going to be next. Everyone is worried. There isn’t any happiness left in the land."

"Life in the city isn’t as horrible as they (farmers) imagine. Maybe telling our story will help make the path a little easier for the next person."