I’m one of those people who dream about living on acres and acres of farmland filled with crops, gardens, cows, horses and chickens but then I wake up to reality. I can’t grow simple herbs in a pot and my stomach feels nauseous when we drive past farm animals. Well, regardless a girl can dream. This past weekend I was reminded of my love for the simple farm life where I cook from crops in my own backyard and enjoy my garden in the evenings.
My friend invited me to join her and her kids on a “minga” farm adventure just outside of the city. I love getting out of the city every chance I get especially if it’s to enjoy nature. So, a “Minga” is an old tradition carried on by the Inca people where the community comes together for agricultural collective work. In ancient times, Mingas built communities, fed families and strengthened relationships. Basically, it’s a community circle of friends, family and neighbors of all ages coming together and working side by side as people share stories, laughter, experiences and food. At the end there is a feast to celebrate the hard work.
We were able to taste a drink called “chicha” it’s fermented corn turned into a non-alcoholic drink sweetened with spices and cane sugar.
It refreshed my soul and tired my bones!
What I Learned About Simplicity at a Farm
We walked to the back of the house where the manga had already gathered and the hands were hard at work, chucking corn. Our kids immediately ran towards the open fields and joined the fun, climbing trees, making wooden knives from sticks…
At some point I called my boys over to help with the “Minga” and my kids joined the circle with their virgin farm hands and shared in the experience.
My boys seem to gravitate towards gray haired people especially gentle and kind elderly people with big smiles and purses full of candy. I’d like to think they seek them out because we’ve taught them to value and respect the elderly and they desire to glean from their wisdom but I’m sure much of it has do with their hope to get some candy.
Well, in the circle there were a couple of older ladies whom they got to know. Later they ran over to tell me everything they learned about them.
As I sat around the circle it was fun to be an observer and listen in on the conversations, the laughter, the diverse background and ages represented in the group.
I loved watching all the hands at work. I loved being connected to the earth in this way. I especially loved that my kids were getting a small glimpse into all the work and sweat that it takes to have fresh vegetables and fruits at our table. Honestly, it was good to be reminded of this myself.
At one point it was all so poetic. I sat quietly taking in the sound of the gentle breeze, the wrinkled hands sorting corn, the vibrant colors of the harvest, the soft youthful hands chucking corn, the smell of fresh air, the hot sun beating on our backs and the laugher and teasing moving along in perfect harmony.
Right before our feast I learned how to thresh, winnow and sort beans the old fashioned latino way. We danced our way through the process with maracas, drums and all. It was so much fun!
Here we are in the picture below, we are learning the winnowing process. It was a hot day but the breeze gave us brief moments of relief as it swept through the fields. We filled our hands with beans and dropped them mid-air and the wind would carry the chaff as the beans fell.
I took a break and walked around the farm house and was intrigued with the family owners simple life. The house was built by them using material from the earth. The bathroom didn’t have a flushing system, you used wood shaving to cover your duty and then it’s used as fertilizer.
The kitchen counters were filled with vegetables and fresh seasonings.
The table was stacked with fresh wholesome food that made my mouth water.
The kid’s toys were mostly made from wood and it seemed like each piece was very much thought out. I wondered how many of us do this, think through the toys we buy our kids and it’s purpose for purchasing it. The bugs and flies all welcomed in her home as guest. I loved that her son had acres of forest as his playground and classroom.
I later told my friend I admire this kind of simple living. I probably won’t own a cow or chickens anytime soon. I most likely will continue to appreciate the convenience of flushing our business down the toilet, but I think simplifying ones life can still be done regardless.
What I learned about the simple farm life is that it’s not so simple–it’s hard work. I long to simplify my life as I declutter the endless boxes from our recent move and get rid of the stuff that’s just been sitting there taking up space and never being used. I plan on simplifying my life by giving away the clothes that’s just taking up space in my closet waiting for that “someday” when it will get used. I simplify our life by making our dinner time a priority and guarding that time like a mother bear. I simplify our life by unplugging and enjoying nature. I will take with me the beautiful tradition of the “Minga” and find ways our family can help build our community and strengthen our relationships with people from all ages and walks of life. I’m sure I can still do more but I’ll baby step my way into this simplicity. The simple life maybe “simple” but it’s not easy. Living a less distracted life with less stuff and more people is a beautiful thing! I hope for this simplicity whether I live in the big city or out on a farm since I can’t grow cilantro in a pot and I can’t stand the smell of cow pastures.