Abnormal. Not Weird.

We farm. That’s what we do. It’s not who we are. It’s not what we’re about. It’s what we do. I try to use this blog to write about what we do…not who we are. I could start a Family Blog-O-Rama if you want to read about me but I think that sounds boring. However, sometimes, in order to add meaning to what I do, I have to tell you about myself.

My name is Chris. I am abnormal. Abnormality is necessary for doing what we do. Based on peer interaction and lack of dates as an adolescent I must look abnormal but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about being. Not looking. Not acting. Being.

To be absolutely clear, I’m not weird.  “Weird” describes somebody’s uncle or that really, really hairy neighbor who mows the lawn wearing only a speedo. (I grew up near a man who mowed his grass in a red paisley speedo. Yeah.)  Not only do I actively avoid wearing a speedo under any circumstances, I don’t mow my grass. (And isn’t it weird that someone with a riding lawn mower would also own a treadmill?)

If we were normal we would be average.  Average Americans have $15,000 in credit card debt, owes $25,000 on college debt, owns 2.28 cars, a home in the suburbs and are divorced.  The average American man is 5’8″ and weighs 195 with a nearly 40″ waist.  I don’t fit that description at all. I don’t want to be average. I am not average…not normal. Abnormal. I didn’t watch football Sunday afternoon, I told cows where they could eat.

I feel safe suggesting that if you’re going to take on this whole farming thing then you’re abnormal too. “Normal” meat comes pre-cut, wrapped in plastic and is magically created moments before the grocer places it in the cooler for sale. It is absolutely abnormal (in the current era) to brine a wood surface before cutting(!) a chicken with a sharp DANGEROUS knife, let alone kill a pig in your back yard.  I know, right? It borders on weird to, like, ruin your lawn so you can, like, grow, like, broccoli or whatever.  Like, sometimes, there are, like, little green worms crawling on the broccoli!  Gross! But that’s what you do when you are abnormal.

Now, you ready for the hard part?  Even among farmers I’m abnormal.  Normal farmers don’t grow broccoli or butcher chickens. In fact, normal farmers don’t grow food – they raise commodities. They certainly don’t tell the cows where they can eat! Normal farmers play cards at the coffee shop.  Normal farmers collect big, expensive hunks of metal. Normal farmers shake their heads when they drive past my house. It is obvious that we are abnormal.

Sometimes life on the frontier can be lonely. Do it anyway. In some ways, the more abnormal (maybe even weird) your idea is, the more likely you are to succeed. However, as you are chasing down your own specific abnormality (even if it is not farming), don’t overlook the need for community.  Maybe that’s why I blog. I suspect there were some seriously crazy people out on the American frontier.  We’re not shooting for crazy.  We’re just stepping away from the herd to do things as they should be done.

So that’s what it takes. Step away from the herd. I may talk more about our own lengthy transition to farming sometime but it starts by doing something abnormal. Not weird. Maybe not even smart. Just abnormal.

So now for a hard question: What do you do when your own specific abnormality is no longer abnormal?

13 thoughts on “Abnormal. Not Weird.

  1. Great post. I use the term “different”. My mom has always told me I was different. If I see the crowd going left, I go right. In high school, when all my friends were taking Spanish, I took French. (not the best idea since I ended up in horticulture). When my friends talk about how great the public school system is, I dream of homeschooling. When folks I know are popping pills, I’m downing coconut oil and diatomaceous earth. Different. Abnormal. I think this farming thing will fit me perfectly 🙂

  2. I used to worry about my “label” long ago in my teens and early adulthood – but it wasn’t long before I figured out that to live with myself, I had to live by my values. I’ve certainly made compromises and exceptions over the years, but my overall trend in job, parenting, marriage, farming,interests has been that they all align with my values. I have more than once heard my kids describe me as weird to their friends (usually about my green tendencies – I don’t buy bottled water, I carry a travel mug around with me for take out coffee, etc). If that’s weird, I’ll live with it.

  3. Love this post! I found your blog through Matron’s and have slowly been reading all your posts. You’re a great writer and I’ve learned a lot.

    The older I get (46) the more abnormal I seem to become, at least by societies standards. It started with our decision to homeschool our kids (3) twelve years ago. Then we started to look into what we were feeding them, and us, (SAD diet) and changed that dramatically. We’re still the only family we know that only drinks water and not bottled! We’ve never owned a new car, don’t have cable TV, have no debt except our home (working on that so we can buy our farm), teach our children to love and fear the Lord and trying to show our kids what a Godly marriage looks like so they can find that in a spouse as well. We still live in a subdivision but have a large garden where we grow most of our own vegetables, raise chickens for eggs, and bees for honey (the chickens and bees are against HOA rules but it’s amazing what a few eggs and honey for your neighbors will do to keep lips sealed).

    To answer your question at the end of your post, just go see a movie, watch a TV show, go to Wal-Mart, etc., you’ll feel abnormal again in no time!

    P.S. I for one would love to read the Family Blog-O-Rama!

    • LOL. Thanks. Maybe one of my kids will write the blog-o-rama. Could be funny. Could be scary…

      It’s easy to stand out. We had dinner out with a couple of families last night. Food arrives. “Let’s join hands and give thanks.” Abnormal. And, Oh Golly!, it’s easy to feel out of place at Walmart. Especially when the person at checkout comments that we must like to cook! I guess most people don’t cook…they just warm and serve.

      What do you use for water? Julie recently bought stainless steel containers for water. The kids take them everywhere. Little hard to wash but no hill for a climber.

      Your comment reminded me somehow of Waylon Jennings’ “Just Watch Your Mama and Me.” I realize that has little to do with godly marriage, just setting the example. Going further on this rabbit trail, I saw a video of the Highwaymen once where Waylon sang this song and I think Chris Christopherson asked which of his wives that song was about. LOL

  4. Good Morning. My name is Aby, Aby Normal. That’s the joke in our house. Stole it also.

    We’ve been abynormal/different that not only our children and their friends know it, the town expects it. But the decisions are all based upon beliefs and thought out choices. It will be a longtime around here before our “normal” becomes widespread, but maybe the answer to your question lies in the past. Our new different is becoming more like our great-grandparents than our parents.

  5. We raise pigs, laying chickens, broiler chickens and turkeys for home and for sale, bees, and make maple syrup and have a garden. We have a friend we got hooked on raising his own broilers, who then got a friend to do the same. The first friend brings his broilers and we process them in exchange for his help. His friend pays us to process his. The paying friend was telling a story about this friend of his that came over and asked about his chickens. “Do you get eggs from your chickens”. “No”. “Then why do you have them”. They’re for the freezer”. “What do you mean”? “We eat them”. “Who kills them”. “A friend”. “Where”? “At his house”. “Where”? “In the yard”. “Does it taste weird”? “It tastes better than a store bought chicken, I’ll invite you for dinner. The day of the dinner comes and the phone rings and the wife is “sick” and they won’t be able to attend. The second batch of chickens is processed and the paying friend delivers a chicken to his friends for them to have and they grudgingly take it. “I don’t know if we can eat this”. “Why” “Because it’s not from the store” “It’s the best chicken you’ll ever have” “We’ll see”. That was two months ago and the chicken is still in the freezer. These people are both educated, professionals. “Now that’s what I call WEIRD”!

    • LOL

      That’s great. I have a friend who will eat our eggs but his wife won’t. As if the eggs themselves are tainted from sunlight and pasture.

      I am guilty at times of going for shock value when talking to skeptical people. Look, I know I won’t win every kitchen so sometimes I just let it all out.
      Customer: “Do chickens need a rooster to lay eggs?”
      Me: “You lay an egg every month. Does that require a man?”
      C: “er…well…no”
      Me: “Can you imagine doing that every day?!?! So. How many dozen do you need?”

      The same person asked, “What do you mean you CLEAN the eggs?”
      Me: “Well, everything that comes out of the chicken comes out of the same hole.”
      C: “The same hole? What do you mean?”
      Me: “The Cloaca. Everything. That’s why we give them a little scrubbing.”

      SO. Those educated professionals? It’s probably my fault…or the fault of another farmer with a similar sense of humor.

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