I think if someone asked Beatrix Potter why she bought up farm land in the Lake District of England she would say, ” Why let something beautiful be ruined?”
The same as if someone had asked Laura Ingells Wilder why she stayed in the Ozarks on a farm, she might say, “Why chase glittering dreams when you have everything you could want right here.”
When I was a child and first read Beatrix Potter’s stories, especially Peter Rabbit, I found a short little excerpt in my book that said she ended up living in the Lake District of England. I didn’t think much of it at the time. It wasn’t until the movie “Miss Potter” came out in 2006 that I realized what a truly remarkable woman she was. She lived in the city as a child and for summer holidays would travel with her family to the Lake District, which is where her love of the outdoors and animals grew. Eventually, when she grew up, she bought a farm in the Lake District called “Hilltop Farm”. She kept it up as a working farm and bought more land and added to her property. She later put her land in a land trust so that future generations could enjoy it. She conserved 4,000 acres of land. That is a large amount of property considering that England is a small country.
I wish that there was more to know or that I could travel back in time and see what her life was like and what inspired her. What mainly inspires me is that although she was wealthy she was an ordinary person like you and me and she cared about the land because she realized that the land was the heritage of her country.
Laura Ingells Wilder also inspires me because of the joy she took in farming. This is evident in the attention to detail she displays in her writings. Not only did she write the “Little House on the Prairie” books, but she also wrote articles for many years for farming and ladies magazines. Luckily someone gathered these together and published a book with the articles in it. I was fortunate that my mother purchased a copy. I have spent many an hour reading the articles in that book and drawing inspiration from it.
My favorite quote from this book is when she is giving advice to a young woman who is planning to marry a young man who says he wants to be a farmer, and she comes to Laura for advice. Laura’s advice is some of the best advice I have ever heard for someone planning to marry a farmer: “If you want ease, unearned luxuries, selfish indulgence, a silken-cushioned, strawberries-and-cream life, do not marry a man who will be a farmer. If you want to give, as well as to take; if you want to be your husband’s full partner in business and in homemaking; if you can stand on your own feet and face life as a whole, the troubles and difficulties and the real joys and growth that come from them; if you want an opportunity to be a fine, strong, free woman, then you are fitted for the life of a farmer’s wife, to be his partner, the providence of your own little world of the farm and bread-giver to humanity, the true lady of the world.” (Little House in the Ozarks; The Rediscovered Writings. By Laura Ingells Wilder. Edited by Stephen W. Hines. Page 190.)
That quote is one of my favorite quotes of all time, and every time I need to remind myself of why I farm I like to read that quote.
Both these women have inspired me to take on the challenge of farming and have taught me to enjoy it. I am thankful that I have found some kindred spirits that feel the same way about farming as I do and I can’t wait to meet many more along the way.
Have a lovely Sunday!