Several times during the past 5 months, we have looked at ourselves and said “Are we sure we want to live in NY State?” While we remained committed to what (we thought) God had in store for us, there were definitely some things we were having to get past to get to that point. Now that the property has fallen through and we are forced to start over, I wonder whether God has given us a 2nd chance regarding the location where we will start our farm and raise our children.
We had settled on upstate NY for several reasons. First off, I was born & raised in the Southern Tier of NY and both my parents still live in the general region… one on the old home place and one SE of Syracuse. Also, although most people I talk to don’t realize this, upstate NY is one of the most physically beautiful places in the United States (in my opinion). It boasts rolling hills, several mountain ranges, year-round outdoor activities and tons of fertile farmland, woods and waterways. Finally, it was a nice 1/2 way point between most of our extended families, with Heather’s aunts, uncles and cousins (on her mom’s side) in Connecticut and Maine, both my siblings settling in north-central Ohio, and my extended family scattered throughout New York, Connecticut and Virginia. But as we worked through the process of purchasing our dream place, several very important issues began to surface as road blocks to our picture-perfect plan of becoming New Yorkers.
We are a fan of homeschooling. We are planning to homeschool our children in an effort to shield them from the negative influences of a society that slips further and further into darkness every day. We think everyone has the right to make that choice for themselves, to opt out of the institution’s system and provide a different framework within which their children are free to learn and develop under the tutelage of their parents. Looking at this map, NY is one of the worst states in the union for homeschooling. They intentionally make it as difficult as possible, and have ridiculous requirements, in an attempt to drive parents to give up and put their kids in public school. We would have done it anyway, but homeschooling would have been a huge trial to tackle on top of everything else we would have going on.
An issue looming over the heads of all New Yorkers right now is the specter of the hydraulic fracturing process to extract natural gas from shale rock, known as “fracking”. To this point, the state has stood strong against intense pressure from the gas industry, in fact, the state-wide moratorium enacted in 2008 is currently being extended out to 2015 in order to allow more study of the immense environmental and health concerns. Unfortunately, big money almost always wins in this world, and it is my belief that fracking will eventually come to upstate NY. When it does, we don’t want to be there! For more information on this disaster of an extraction process, check out this presentation courtesy of the makers of the movie Gasland.
Last, but not least, is New York’s stance on individual rights and the proper role of government. Governor Cuomo is on the forefront of “progressivism”, which means he is moving backwards instead of forwards, in my opinion. With one of the most exorbitant tax burdens in the country, the state government has no problems reaching into both the pocketbooks and personal lives of its citizens. The most recent example of this mentality revolves around gun control. In one of the worst cases of back-door dirty politics, Governor Cuomo rolled out massive, draconian legislation requiring among other things the statewide registration of all guns, as well as an anonymous tip line with a bounty of $500 paid to those who will turn in their neighbors, family and friends. This issue isn’t even about “guns” necessarily, it is the fact that any government feels not only comfortable, but justified in taking this kind of action against its citizenry.
For all of these reasons, it is possible that our excitement about moving to New York might have been misplaced. Being forced to start over has allowed us to reconsider other options like southern Ohio, which would put us much closer to our generation of family members and is better on issues like homeschooling and individual rights. Fracking is still an issue there, but we can mitigate that a little by being selective in where we look. To that end, I’m heading to the area this Tuesday to look at several properties we’ve found online. Only time will tell, but it is possible that the past 5 months we “wasted” waiting on the New York property will be looked back upon as a situation in which God intervened and saved us from making a huge mistake.