A farmer without a farm

A farmer without a farm

It’s probably the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make: stay in an unsatisfying marriage in order to follow my dream of farming and pollinator conservation–or walk away from it all and start over in pursuit of real happiness. After the struggle to move Runamuk to the old Burns farm and all of the support that has been shown me along the way–it was incredibly tough to give up the land. But ultimately I just wasn’t happy and I had to choose divorce and the chance for a truly happy life.

Some couples are fortunate–they share strong bonds that are only strengthened by time and life’s trials, and almost miraculously they manage to sustain their marriage for decades and decades. I am completely awe-struck when I hear of couples celebrating fifty or sixty years of marriage–I think it’s wonderful and beautiful.


Keith and I met our senior year in high school and we’d been together for 17 years–married for 15–but I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t more than a little dissatisfied with my marriage. I tried for more than a decade to make it work, to assuage the nagging feeling that I wanted more than Keith could give me. I tried to improve myself in hopes that would lead to a more satisfying life, spent time outside working in the garden in hopes that exercise and sunshine would alleviate the depression that ate away at my soul over the matter. I got involved in my community, made new friends, and started my farm-business. But through it all the dissatisfaction remained.

I don’t care to lay blame or point fingers–it is what it is, and it just got to a point where I had to make up my mind if any of it was really worth it. And for me the answer was No. If you’re not happy–you’re just not happy. And I firmly believe that everyone deserves to be happy.

So despite my fears and misgivings, I took a deep breath and bravely walked away.

Keith and I agreed on joint-custody of the kids. I took my Willow-dog and I took Runamuk, and since the land has been in his family for 3 generations I felt obligated to leave that with him out of respect for the Burns family. Some day that acreage will be passed on to one or both of the children Keith and I created together.

In the meanwhile, I’m a farmer without a farm.

I’m in search of a place to rent for the next 2-5 years while I build up my business, for all that Runamuk is–it is not yet self-sustaining, and certainly doesn’t provide the income that I need to live without working off the farm. So I’ve taken a job at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, which is located about 40 minutes from the Madison-Anson area, financed a new-to-me subaru outback, and Willow and I begrudgingly moved into an apartment in-town in Madison while we search for a more permanent rental where I can move chickens and the goats and have space to garden and homestead.

I do not regret my marriage, I would not be the person I am today were it not for the life and experiences I lived alongside Keith. And by no means am I giving up my dream or homesteading ambitions. My life is in disarray, things are uncertain at the moment, but all things considered–I’m optimistic that this is just another speed bump on my journey and that some day my future will be all that I imagine it will be.

The plan is to focus on the bees–invest in new hives and increase honey production and production of my beeswax products. I want to focus on writing and increase my personal self-sufficiency for the next couple of years while I get back on my feet.

Long-term, I still have aspirations for a pollinator conservation center, a hundred or more hives, published writings and elegant art pieces. But for the time-being I am not looking that far ahead. For the time being I am concentrating my energies on re-grouping, centering myself, my heart, and my soul, and making a fresh start.


  1. danrshaw

    All I can say is good for you. I was in the same position, unhappy in marriage. Well I found my soul mate and we’ve been together for 14 years now are quite happy (unless I screw up). LOL But we both share the same goals and ambitions. We enjoy each others company and we also aren’t afraid to tell each other how we feel, good and bad.
    Sometimes we have to step back and take the time to refocus before moving forward. Please keep posting your progress and let us know how things are going.

  2. I think there are a lot of us who have been through a divorce and it is a difficult time. If you need help
    maybe a bunch of people who want to for free come help your place and help out. I have always wanted to see Maine. How much snow do you have? When can you start gardening? I am in Nothern
    Idaho (30 miles from Canada ) and am living my dream in a log home on 8 acres. I have put in an orchard and have a garden and put in berries. I have 2 laying hens which are more pets for the grandchildren. My daughter and I have one week a year we have a vacation together without the kids.
    I would love to spend it helping out. I am 63 and my daughter is 37. The grandkids are 10 and 11 and
    both love the county life as they are in the LA area. They would love to learn as much as they can. I want to learn about bees and put in some hives. Is it hard? What is the time of year you buy bee hives? When you need help just holler. Linda

    1. Samantha Burns

      Thank you so very much Linda for the support. We just got roughly 30-inches of snow in the blizzard, with more to come tomorrow night. Typically here in Maine we can start gardening as soon as the soil can be worked–but that date depends on when the snow melts away. Generally I can start planting in April, but this year that’s all going to depend on when I find a more suitable long-term rental. Stay tuned for more info–it will take me some time, but I will get it together!

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Runamuk Acres Conservation Farm