You’re Going To Do What?

We get that one a lot. Granted, lately we’ve noticed people’s reactions trending towards the positive and supportive, but we’ve been on the receiving end of our fair share of raised eyebrows. Most people assume that because I’m an Air Force pilot (I know, I know… the old joke applies: “Q: How do you know someone is a pilot within the first 10 seconds you meet him? A: He’ll tell you.”) that I want to go fly for the airlines after retiring with 20 years of active duty service. Not a bad plan for most, but we’ve got different ideas. So the obvious question is, what brought us to this decision to leave the Air Force after only 12 years in order to start a farm?

 

I’ve always had a love for the country, having grown up in the rolling hills of New York State’s Southern Tier. I left the nest to attend college in Florida, followed by pilot training in Georgia and Mississippi, but my heart stayed grounded in all things rural. My wife (Heather) loves to tell the story of when we were newly married and stationed in Illinois: I was driving home and passed a newly cut field of hay. The smell was exactly as I remembered it from my childhood, and I immediately called Heather at home. “Put some shoes on and step out by the road, I’ll pick you up.” After picking her up, I drove back out to the field, stopped and rolled down the window. “Smell that? Stick your head out the window and take a big sniff!” I’m pretty sure she had decided I was crazy, but as I remember it she played along nicely, saying “What? It smells like grass.” She didn’t get it at the time, but it gave me a chance to tell her all about the great memories I had of baling hay with my family, drinking “sun tea”, eating Tootsie Rolls and cooling off/washing off the itchy chaff with a quick dip in the pond!

Cutting hay

There is nothing that smells sweeter than freshly cut hay!

So I’ve always known we would move back to the country and raise cows someday, but needless to say Heather wasn’t exactly on board early on. But lots of things began to change when she got pregnant with our first born. Besides the obvious world-rocking stuff everyone goes through, we found ourselves questioning lots of things that we had accepted without a second thought up to this point. We began to educate ourselves on the issues surrounding vaccinations, food safety, pesticide use, GMOs, our government’s “regulatory” system and a host of other problems. Most importantly, we began to think for ourselves. Before we knew it, we were checking out birth centers, reading up on alternative vaccination schedules, eating organic food and writing our elected representatives about the dangers of genetically modified organisms!

 

At this point, I wouldn’t call us full-blown hippies, but we’re close (without the illegal drugs, of course). Heather has had both of our children 100% naturally, without any drugs or medical interventions. We are active in our local food movement, have a garden, and make as many things for ourselves as we can. Heather even has a thriving business called Simple Splendor Soaps which has become very popular for her all-natural soaps, lotions and lip balms. Heck, I even use baking soda/apple cider vinegar instead of shampoo and unflavored Jello as a substitute for hair-gel!

What About Mary - Hair Gel

Jello, anyone?

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not growing hair in all the wrong places or smoking our minds with alternative substances! For crying out loud, I’m a military pilot with a masters degree married to a pediatric occupational therapist with a doctorate! We just happen to believe there is a better way than the current industrial mindset when it comes to our health, food and general well-being. So what do you call us? Nothing fits perfectly, but you’d be pretty close with the label “Crunchy Conservative”. Over the past 4.5 years since our son’s pregnancy started our world-view has changed drastically. But we are more passionate that ever about the issues I’ve mentioned, and couldn’t imagine not doing something about them if given the chance. It just so happens that that chance has presented itself in 2013!

Paul Sig

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10 Responses to You’re Going To Do What?

  1. Dawn Lundell says:

    Of course I am familiar with all this but I really enjoyed reading the blog. Mom

  2. Jeff Hamons says:

    Having a child is what set us down this road too. Changes your whole world view!

    • It sure does… in more ways than one for us! Our journey has a “once you know the truth, you can’t go back” theme to it. We were happy as can be as “normal” consumers of all things conventional, but as you said… your entire world-view changes once you’ve peeled back a few layers of the onion!

  3. Nate Whitaker says:

    Paul/Heather,

    Great adventure takes great risks – but we know the rewards will be there in the end. Here’s to your life’s next adventure. Both Magyn and I wish you continued success.

  4. Erika says:

    God Bless in your new adventures!!!

  5. Covering your endeavors in prayer! Really thrilled at what lies ahead for you guys as you enter the world of full-time farming. There has been little in our lives that has been as rewarding and as it is challenging all rolled into one. But, we wouldn’t trade it for the world. This lifestyle has been a huge blessing for us and our children. We pray blessings over your farm!

    • Thank you Lynsey! Yonder Way Farms was one of the first grass-based farms we purchased from and visited when this whole idea started to percolate in our brains! Our visit to your beautiful farm, your family’s willingness to spend some time with complete strangers and our conversations made a HUGE impact on both Heather and I, so much so that we still talk about your farm, progress, etc even today. Thanks again for your prayers!

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