When I was three years old, my parents made the decision to leave Iowa and move to California's Central Valley. I grew up in California, occasionally spending a few weeks of summer or holidays with my grandparents back in Iowa. My sister, cousins and I always found adventures on the farm. Our favorites were playing in the barn or the old house, throwing apples at the pigs, riding lawn mowers and driving the tractor. Grandpa was strict and made us help out with the chores - cleaning pig pens, bailing hay, swatting flies or changing out a feeder, but he also gave us chocolate milk each day for lunch and would share his popcorn as we lay on the couch watching an afternoon movie. Grandma took us on errands to town, would pick strawberries with us to make jam or have us snap beans from the garden for supper. She taught me how to sew and let me try on her shoes and jewelry. She would let me sneak into her bed at night if I woke up and was scared of sleeping in the dark basement bedroom.
When I was older, there were fewer chores to do. Few animals were left and Grandpa wasn't growing as much. But I still loved visiting the farm. We would sit on the wrap around porch listening to Grandpa's stories, some that we had heard over and over. We would still go for rides on the tractor with all the kids, stay up late playing pool with cousins and dance to Grandma and Grandpa's favorite records.
Grandma passed away in 2007. Grandpa stayed on the farm, but would visit us in California often. He told my husband and I we should move in with him on the farm. He passed away last fall, right before Thanksgiving 2012. I took my youngest with me to the funeral. Towards the end of my trip, I realized I didn't want this to be the last time I visited.
Even without my grandparents there, the farm is a place I love to be and I wanted all four of my kids to have a chance to make their own adventures on the farm. I promptly texted my husband and told my parents we should move there. Everyone laughed and joked about what we would do when we moved to Iowa. When I got home to California, my husband and I talked about what we thought was a far-fetched possibility of actually moving to the farm and becoming farmers ourselves. My heart hurt at the thought of not returning to the farm, so my husband and I spent several months researching, discussing, crunching numbers and putting together a proposal that ultimately landed us here, living on Grandma and Grandpa's farm in Iowa.
My husband took off with a Uhaul full of stuff and about a month later, my mom and I followed with six kids for a road trip half way across the country. After surviving more than 30 hours in the car with six kids under the age 12, I am relatively confident that we can handle this farming thing. And after being on the farm just three and a half weeks, we've already got some stories to tell.