Ellen's parents choose farm life for retirement
Jean and Ken joined Ellen and Jay as participants in life at Soggy Bottom Farm in November of 2020. We (Jean and Ken) came to the farm to fill the elders-component in the farm’s age demographics which included grandsons, Leo (17) and Ivan (14). These two would soon be dispersing to pursue their young adult futures in whatever far-flung directions their fantasies took them. Hopefully, we could transmit some senior wisdom to the boys to add to the lessons they acquired from their parents and the farm before they left.
Fortuitously, the location of the farm allows easy visiting with daughter, Jody, and granddaughter, Georgiana. It is a quick 30 minutes between Soggy Bottom and Jody’s house in Tacoma. Jody and Georgie visit the farm often. Even after the boys leave, there will still be Georgie (10) to shepherd through the farm experience as she grows up. Thus, we will be sharing the farm experience not only with Ellen, Jay, and the boys but also with Jody and Georgie, which represents 2/3 of our progeny.
We also came to Soggy Bottom to partake of the farms’ generous bounty which Ellen and Jay graciously share with us. The bounty comes in all kinds of guises. Meat, eggs, produce, and fruit is one type. Pastoral scenes and country quiet are another. The satisfaction of participating in a lifestyle that embraces self-sufficiency, sustainability, and conservation is yet an additional reward to be gained from life on this conservationist-model farm. All this is available to us without us having to do the hard work that generates these rewards. Jay and Ellen are more than happy to provide most of the labor that makes the farm function, as they have been doing over the previous several years and as they will continue to do in the future; they are the energy that makes the farm go. Thus, as Jean and I become physically diminished in our senior years, we have our children to help us with the physical demands that can make farm life daunting.
Then, there is the matter that Soggy Bottom is an exceptional station for nature watching. The pasture, the creek, and the forested areas on the farm create an ecosystem of mixed habitat that attracts many species of wild birds and mammals. Added to these managed areas on the farm are extensive natural areas in adjoining county parks. Nature’s footprint here is large. A list of sighted bird species is now over 50 and growing. A partial list of mammals includes moles and voles in the meadows; rats, mice, and weasels around the barn; beavers, muskrats, and otters in the creek; raccoons and opossums in the riparian area; and bobcats, coyotes, deer, elk, and bears in the forest. What a superb place this farm is for watching the wild animals interact among themselves, with the farm animals, and with the diverse elements of this environment.
So now Jean and Ken take their place alongside the dogs, cat, chickens, sheep, pigs, goats, and cows. Our place is somewhat unique in that we don’t contribute to production or protection. We offer wisdom and perspective but more than that, we offer love to the people who have vested their lives in this place. We are happy to be part of the Soggy Bottom farm community.