My father has known me for 36 years and, next to Julie, qualifies for the title of “Best Friend.” He’s pretty well in tune with my likes and dislikes. Dad said, “You should watch the first episode of Green Acres and write a blog post about it.” So, Dad. Here it is.
Now, before we get too carried away I invite you to watch it for yourself. Julie found herself crying in laughter and sympathy with Lisa (Oliver’s wife). Oliver’s enthusiasm and naivety mirror my own. In fact, though we lack a hole in the floor leading to the cellar, the show hits a little too close to home.
Oliver reads the blogs of his day, USDA bulletins, every spare moment of his life. That sounds familiar. He spends every moment growing anything he can including mushrooms in his office desk drawer. His job is just something he does well though mechanically and without enthusiasm. He lacks that feeling of accomplishment, purpose and fulfillment. That good kind of tired you get after a day of physical labor. He says:
“A farm would give me a feeling of accomplishing something.”
“This has been the dream of my life: to buy a farm! Move away from the city. Plow my own fields. Plant my own soil. To get my hands DIRTY! Sweat and strain to make things grow! To join hands with you, the farmers…the backbone of our economy.”
Like Oliver, I wanted a real farm like the one I was born on. Unlike Oliver I actually bought the one I was born on (er…well, the one my parents lived on when I was born at the hospital). Like Oliver I bought a run-down house with sheds that are falling in on themselves, failing fences and odd bits of junk everywhere. Unlike Oliver I wasn’t suckered into it. Like Oliver I have a beautiful, sophisticated, thin, blonde wife. Unlike Oliver my wife came along willingly…and doesn’t have a Hungarian accent. Like Oliver, I bought with big, unrealistic expectations, no experience and inhuman optimism. That optimism has been just about beaten out of me. Maybe this year we can limit our losses to just a couple thousand dollars then turn things around to positive numbers in our 5th year. I don’t know. The infrastructure needs are so great. It looks to me like Oliver just pours money into the farm every episode. My pockets aren’t deep enough for that. Fortunately I don’t have a Mr. Haney in my life.
Look. I don’t have any help for you if you have decided to get your hands dirty and join the backbone of the nation. You’ve picked a tough row to hoe. I think we can do it (or I wouldn’t be trying) but it’s not easy. I have to suggest that Oliver’s adjustment would have been easier if there had been no house at all…if he had only had the sense to send Mr. Haney packing then take a match to the empty house at the beginning of episode 2 and build new. My land itself is a fixer-upper. I don’t have time to deal with the house issues. Neither does Oliver. I like to encourage my farmers that they can succeed. You can. But try not to put yourself behind the 8 ball from the beginning just because you were born somewhere.
Channeling Lisa, my wife, lovely as ever, upon viewing the farm as we return from a business trip to Florida, looks at me from the passenger seat and says, “Let’s go back.”
Green Acres offers a response, “Keep Smiling.”
If you’re going to do this, Keep Smiling.