City life is a social machine; or, rather, it is a congeries of machines. A few men are managers and engineers, but the ninety and nine are cogs and pins and links. Most men desire to be cogs, or at least they are willing to be. The daily life is a routine which is made and prepared. Having reached a position that insures a comfortable financial return, the struggle for existence is reduced to its lowest terms, and the person is content. Now and then a person longs for a broader view, more dependence on personal initiative, a more perfect individualism. Perhaps such a person may not go on a farm, but he may consider it.
This, then, is the first advice that I can give you, if you think of leaving the city to become a farmer, — do not consider the proposition for a moment unless your ideal is individualistic. You are to depend on yourself. You are to make your own way. You are to live your own life. You must be resourceful.
Of course you are to work in cooperation with your fellow farmers, and cooperation will be more necessary every year; but you are to be your own manager.
My second advice is this, — be sure that you love the country and everything there is in it. Be sure that you do not go with the feeling that you are giving up the pleasures of life. Be sure that a dandelion is worth as much as a theater. You are to be company for yourself. The birds will sing as no opera singer ever sang. The flowers will bloom in the meadows. The brooks will laugh on the pebbles and sleep under the banks. The clouds will float above you. Be sure that your heart is ripe before you move to the country.
My third advice is that you learn farming. A farmer could not expect to succeed in a city business until he had learned it; and perhaps his type of mind would be such that he could never learn it. Neither can a city man expect to succeed in a farming occupation until he has learned the facts and the business of farming. Books and periodicals and bulletins will help, but they are only helps; the business must be learned by actually working in it, as any other business must be learned. The city man can not expect to revolutionize farming. If any revolution comes, it is to be worked out by farmers, whether they are city bred or country bred.
You must not be afraid to work with your hands. At times the work will be hard, and the days will be cold or hot. This you are to accept as part of the business; but if your mind is right, labor will be its own reward.
My city friend must remember that farming is a family business. A single man can hardly expect to be a thoroughly successful and satisfied farmer. So I hope that you have a wife. If she thinks as you do about the country, the problem is half solved. If her heart is wedded to the city, stay where you are. I hope you have children, — and what healthy, natural child under twelve years of age would not love the country?- L.H. Bailey, Farm and Forest, 1911