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The Simple Life is Simple

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From cubicle to soil to wishing for cubicle.
Everyone knows about farming. It's straightforward and picturesque, right? It happens in the country, where there's grass and trees and fields. Farmers are easygoing folk who live in connection to nature. They grow crops, raise animals, sell their produce, and live an honest, healthy life free from the troubles of modernity. If we were less addicted to the internet, we'd probably all go join them.

And surely we'd have no trouble doing so. Farming is well known to be simple. You don't even have to go to college to run a farm, let alone work on one. Sure, of course it's hard work. But it's not complicated. We could totally do it if we just buckled down.

HA HA HA—No. Not at all. This misconception of farming shows up fairly often in fiction— usually from a character (or writer) who's a City Mouse.

In fact, farming is extremely complicated. Working a diversified farm requires you to be a highly skilled generalist with specific, situation-relevant knowledge in a dozen different fields, from botany to meteorology to mechanics to veterinary medicine to chemistry to entomology. What's more, a mistake or bad luck (such as a late frost) can spell disaster: a ruined crop can't be fixed, and can't be replaced until next year. There can be long stretches of leisure time, but this is because you can't speed up the plants, the animals or the seasons. And many farmers need other jobs to pay the bills during those times. Garrison Keillor's farmers in Lake Wobegon speak of these things often and give you a much more realistic idea of what it's like.

The historical farmer didn't have it any easier; driving a tractor is considerably simpler than getting a mule to do what you want it to. And that "unskilled" labor like hoeing and picking? Yes, anyone can do that. If a farmer's willing to hire them over an old hand who can do the work five to ten times faster.

If a character who has no experience farming takes to running a farm without a noticeable learning curve, that is this trope. In the case of a hobby or "gentleman farmer", who's merely farming for fun with little or no economic pressure, the learning curve can be less steep. If a character with no farming experience has to do some farmwork and succeeds with no training, no practice, and no trouble, that is also this trope.

This trope is played straight in some The City vs. the Country plots (where the moral of the story is "city life is too complicated, you should get back to nature") and averted or subverted in others (where the moral is more like "we all have our crosses to bear"). It was also one of the driving forces behind the Commune movements of the 1960s and 70snote .

It also often appears in adventure stories where the wandering hero earns his keep at local farms as he passes throughnote . This trope is the basis of Arcadia, where farming is idyllic and pleasant as well as simple, and may show up when a character is Called To Agriculture. A Slow Life Fantasy will also play it straight, though those characters often have magical powers that make their work easier.

As we seek ways to solve global warming and the despoiling of natural resources, we may believe that small organic farms selling produce at farmers' markets, etc. are the answer. But most people can't afford to buy land and make the necessary investments. And most people, especially low-income workers who want but can't afford nutritious food, can't "just" quit their jobs and move out to the country. Community gardens and urban gardening/farming as Ron Finley teaches are more realistic, and closer to what was done in cities as recently as a century ago (which is why you'll see chickens and goats in some old movies set in big cities).

This article illustrates some of the real life problems with romanticizing farm life and how many farmers are actually devoting at least part of their land to The Theme Park Version to attract tourist$.

Simple Life farms often include Constantly Lactating Cows.


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    Anime & Manga  
  • Played with in Only Yesterday. The main character Taeko visits distant relatives once a year to help them harvest, getting to stay for free in exchange. While getting tired and sometimes complaining about back pain, she doesn't show any trouble with the work despite working as a office worker in Tokyo throughout the year. But since it is hinted that she has done this for quite a while, she might at least know the basics and just struggle with the physical part due to her desk job.
  • Zigzagged in Silver Spoon. The main character Hachiken has this attitude and thinks that since he got generally high marks as a junior high student in his city school, an agricultural high school should be a total academic cakewalk, which is part of the reason why he chose that school (the other reason was that it's a Boarding School so it gave him an excuse to get away from his overbearing Education Papa). He finds out very quickly just how wrong he was and is frequently overwhelmed by the amount of technical skill required to do the many aspects of farming, from the basics of animal husbandry to the administrative knowledge required to run a large-scale agricultural operation. Being the obsessive studier and planner that he is, he quickly figures out the academic part of the new material. Though he never gets the top marks in anything (to his disappointment) he impresses everyone else by being a Jack of All Trades despite having no previous experience in agriculture before coming to the school, while everyone else has their own subject they do well in. It's the more physical activities that go with the conceptual understanding of farming (Waking up at four in the morning every day to take care of his horse for the Equestrian Club, having to till and clear debris from farmland, taking care of livestock, etc.) that he really struggles with.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Subverted in Another Time, Another Place. The work Janie does is exhausting, painful and poorly paid. The other workers aren't much company either.
  • While discussing the industrial revolution in his classic documentary series The Ascent Of Man Jacob Bronowski points out a common historical misconception. Namely, that people who used to be simple farmers were forced to work in hellish factories. Yes, he says, the factories were hellish, but farm labour in those days wasn't much better. (Though, of course, the labour of farming comes and goes with the seasons, not the case with factory life.)
  • Il Bisbetico Domato: Inverted. At one point in the movie, Lisa decides that she wants to adapt to farm life and impress Elia, but she fails miserably.
  • City Girl: Kate hates her life as a waitress in the hot, noisy, crowded city of Chicago. She dreams of the countryside as peaceful paradise, and gets the chance to make those dreams come true when she meets and marries Lem, a farmer in Chicago to sell his wheat. She arrives and finds that not only is a lot of hard work required, the people Down on the Farm can be just as selfish and brutal as the ones in the city.
  • Funny Farm: Andy and Liz aren't trying to take up farming, but they're moving to a small country-side town with the expectation of finding a pastoral retreat where everyone is friendly and life is easy so they can write in peace. It doesn't turn out that way.
  • Deconstructed in Holiday Inn: Jim Hardy feels the Call to Agriculture and leaves showbiz to run a farm. He lasts less than a year before the hard work breaks him.
  • Horse Sense has a lazy and spoiled city boy being sent by his parents to Montana to work on his aunt's farm as punishment for his terrible behavior when his cousin came to visit. Both the cousin and the farm workers don't think much of the city boy and give him "simple" tasks, which he is having a lot of trouble with. Of course, the cousin deliberately withholds information that could vastly simplify those tasks (e.g. telling the city boy to move a pile of manure from one place to another, "forgetting" to mention a tractor behind the shed).
  • Thoroughly deconstructed in Jean de Florette, where a City Mouse buys a farm in rural Provence and fails utterly over the course of the film.
    • While a lot of it is his own inexperience and over-reliance on book learnin', his job is made a lot harder by his neighbours, who dam up a spring that drains onto his land, hoping to drive him off so they can buy him out cheaply; and by the villagers, who knew about the neighbours' plan but didn't tell, partly out of cowardice, partly out of disdain towards "the stranger". The man is eventually killed after trying to dig out a spring with explosives.
    • Gets even worse later once it's revealed the man was actually the long-lost son of the neighbor, meaning he was responsible for the death of the heir he so desperately wanted.
  • At the end of The Ωmega Man after the last scientist on Earth has died, the survivors leave the city for an implied idyllic life in the country.
  • Subverted in A Simple Plan, when the slightly simple brother says he wants to buy back their father's farm, his older brother points out there's a lot of knowledge required for modern farming.
  • The Ba'ku in Star Trek: Insurrection run on this—for such a non-technological society, everything sure is clean! Then again, they were Space Elves...
  • Subverted in Tess Of The Durbervilles, where Angel, a pampered son of a preacher, gains a real admiration for those who have farmed, and will farm, all of their lives, especially in the face of catastrophe (such as one cow eating a garlic plant, resulting in that entire week's worth of butter being unusable because it tastes faintly of garlic).note 

  • Subverted by the 1632 series. When 17th century German farmers have the opportunity to leave their farms to join the new industrial revolution, or to join the army during wartime, many of them accept the chance readily. When the dangers are pointed out to them, they respond that working in a factory can't be any more dangerous than farming life. And even fighting in war doesn't scare men who've seen multiple relatives killed in farming accidents.
  • In Atlas Shrugged, industrialists and businessmen take to farming with no trouble at all and even have enough time left over to write symphonies and work on inventions. On one hand, they're explicitly described as the world's most capable people, but on the other, they have no specific farming knowhow and no labor but themselves.
  • Largely justified in Beware of Chicken by the presence of qi. Not only does Jin already have farming experience, he's superhumanly strong and enduring, can enhance his plows to cut through the ground like butter, and saw hardwood planks like paper, also accidentally uplifts some of his animals, who cheerfully help out their "Great Master", and qi infusions cause his crops and animals to be unusually productive and nutritious. As a result, he soon decides he's living the dream. Of course, such a rich farm is a prime target for rat swarms and wandering bandits...
  • In Cold Mountain, Papa Monroe buys a farm in the South basically as a hobby to pass the time while he works on writing. But when he dies, his daughter Ada can't find anyone to buy the land, and would starve were it not for the intrusion of Ruby, a resourceful woman in need of a place. Ruby teaches Ada everything about working a farm, and when Ada suggests that they'll rest when snowbound in winter, Ruby promptly lists out ten tasks for that season alone.
  • Discworld
    • Discussed Trope when Tiffany Aching (farmer's daughter and witch-in-training) gets her hands on a romance novel in Wintersmith, she misses the point of the story, mostly concerned with how the portrayal of farm life is all wrong.
    • Subverted in Feet of Clay: Fred Colon plans to retire to a farm... until he encounters actual, annoyed livestock for the first time. (A quick learner.)
  • Subverted in one 1997 Patrick McManus story, "The Farm." Stressed and unable to sleep, Pat goes to his doctor who tells him he needs an imaginary farm where he can imagine doing relaxing agricultural work. Pat, who grew up on a farm, pictures a chain of Disaster Dominoes wrecking his imaginary farm and gets even more stressed.
  • Farming Life In Another World: Justified, since Hiraku's "omnipotent farming tool" makes a lot of his farming work trivially easy. The difficulty of actually farming is lampshaded by the other villagers when he decides to prepare rice, with them wondering how the end-product could justify such a complicated preparation process.
  • Subverted in Gone with the Wind when Scarlett and her sisters learn just how hard farming really is.
  • Good Omens has but one paragraph on this trope (the backstory of Pepper's mother), but it is a paragraph rich in detail. Suffice to say that Pepper's mother "began to glimpse why almost the entire drive of human history has been an attempt to get as far away from Nature as possible."
  • Volunteer Marek (a journalist and writer in his civilian life) in The Good Soldier Švejk tells basically the same tale as Mark Twain's one mentioned below, only about a zoological almanac. Which is, as Marek is generally Hašek's Author Avatar, Based on a True Story.
  • How I Edited An Agricultural Paper by Mark Twain is entirely based on this — an editor not having a slightest idea about the matter giving "valuable advice". Sometimes he's even right, sort of ("the pumpkin as a shade tree is a failure").
  • In John Ringo's 2008 The Last Centurion, the titular 1st-person narrator is a farmer, and goes on a long spiel about how complex real farming is, especially when done on the production scale necessary to feed the world. His comments on organic farming and city people who want to "get back to the land" are equally pointed, and none too complimentary.
  • Averted in the Little House on the Prairie series, particularly in Farmer Boy. The sheer amount of labor required by a pre-industrial farm is staggering, and everyone works, even the nine-year-old protagonist.
  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm abuses this trope. Kids go from town/city to her little sweet farm and take care of the animals. They all love it and if there are any hardships, they overcome them quite quickly.
  • 16-17th century English Pastoral literature was often like this, most famously the early example of Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love", in which the only reference to actual shepherding is that he will "pull" the wool from lambsnote  to make his Love's gown. Apart from that, they're mostly going to sit around admiring the countryside. Sir Walter Raleigh's Answer Song "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" is rather scathing about the impracticality of it all.
  • One paragraph in The Tamuli mentions that a vogue of badly written poetry glorifying the pastoral life of shepherds motivated scores of rich nobles to try taking it up themselves. They would sit around in wet meadows and write bad poetry while their untended sheep wandered off in every direction.
  • World War Z: Averted; the US government official charged with re-starting the economy finds that over 65% of the population have no skills that are of use in the post-apocalypse, and a massive re-training effort is needed to get the nation self-sufficient again.
  • In an early sci-fi story, a time-traveling ex-dictator inexperienced with farming ends up at a farm in the Appalachians, "chopping wood" for his keep. He is asked to cut the wood into lengths that will fit into the stove with an ax (an unimaginably inefficient process given that the right tool is a saw.) He does it with no trouble.
  • Anthony Trollope wrote "Perhaps of all trades [farming] is the one in which an accurate knowledge of what things should be done, and the best manner of doing them, is most necessary. And it is one also for success in which a sufficient capital is indispensable." He had witnessed his family's collapse into poverty owing to his father trying to run a farm without any of these requisites.

    Live-Action TV 
  • "The Desk" episode of Barney Miller shows an ex-con, Gil Lesco (Don Calfa), who had a Lobotomy and is now functioning at a very basic, almost childlike level. Also in the squadroom is an Amish farmer, Caleb Webber (played by veteran actor Jeff Corey) who's been robbed. Webber talks to Lesco about typical farm work, and ultimately Lesco decides to accompany Webber back to the farm.
    Webber. Wake up, feed the chickens, milk the cows, get some water, chop wood, plow a few acres.
    Lesco. Then what?
    Webber. Breakfast.
  • Subverted on The Fabulous Beekman Boys— they believe farming life is like this, but it turns out to be much harder than they think.
  • PBS historical reality show Frontier House showed three modern-day families trying to establish homesteads in Montana the way pioneers in 1883 would have lived. After filming from June to October, a panel of historical experts were called to judge which homesteads would survive the winter. All three families were found to have insufficient firewood, one didn't have enough food for themselves or the livestock, and one, while physically prepared, was crippled by developing domestic strife.
  • Richard Kimble in The Fugitive often took jobs on farms. He presumably got good at it after a while, but he never seemed to encounter any problems caused by him not knowing what he was doing.
  • Subverted on Green Acres. Oliver Douglas quits being a big city lawyer to move to the country and be a farmer. He has an idealized view of what farming is like, but when he gets there he is shown to be a terrible farmer who has worn out, outdated equipment (his Hoyt Clagwell tractor is always breaking down) and goes farming in a suit. Furthermore, he expects his wife Lisa to become a typical farmer's wife and learn how to cook, which she is terrible at. In one episode, an agent from the Department of Agriculture even shows up to tell him he's doing things wrong, but he doesn't listen.
  • David Banner on The Incredible Hulk (1977) also took a lot of part-time farm jobs, and despite his background as a lab-bound research scientist he never had any trouble at it... except when the plot dictated that he should Hulk out in frustration, in which case he'd suddenly become prone to work-related accidents.
  • In Johnny Bago, Johnny's RV is out of water so he gets some from a nearby pump. Then he's informed that since the area is irrigated he basically just stole their water.note  He doesn't have the $20 they want so he's forced to work it off by picking cauliflower alongside the Hispanic migrant workers. He thinks he'll get done quickly but is then informed that all his picking for the day amounts to a little under $1 - not counting expenses.
  • Exploited on The Simple Life, where Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie go to live and work on a real farm.
  • Parodied on The Mitchell And Webb Situation with a recurring sketch featuring a guy under the impression that farming is a super-secret Get-Rich-Quick Scheme he's sharing with the audience. "You know sheep? A bit woolly? It's WOOL! Pull it offnote , sell it... fuckin' grows back again! You CANNOT lose!"

    Newspaper Comics  
  • Averted in Dick Tracy when killer on the run 88 Keyes hides out by taking a job on a dairy farm. The fact that he knows nothing about dairying is obvious and quickly exposes him. (Writer Chester Gould owned a dairy farm and knew how technical much of the work is.)

  • Inverted by The Archers, a long running BBC radio Soap Opera which was set up to both entertain and advise farmers themselves, and they don't hesitate to write in and complain about the slightest mistake. As a lot of suburban and urban dwelling people also enjoy it, it's gradually moved away from the "farming advice" angle towards being more of a classic soap opera that happens to be in a rural setting. However, the show still has an "agricultural advisor" on staff to make sure they plough a straight furrow.
  • There were, and still are, radio stations with a farm or rural format, featuring local and syndicated talk shows, describing every aspect of farming. You can now hear these in podcast form also. A few episodes of "Your Farm Family", "My Farm Radio" or "AgriTalk" will quickly dispense with the notion that this is in any way simple.

  • The song "Farming" in the musical Let's Face It! is an expression of this belief.

    Video Games 
  • Fallout 4 takes place in an irradiated post-apocalyptic wasteland, yet any settler can farm with ease, even those who are known to have no experience (such as most companions). You can also feed people with absurdly small areas of land, such as a single small lawn. NPC farmers talk about the hard work they're doing, but not about any difficulties with ensuring crop success. Given that this game also lets you build complex machinery out of random household junk, it might be more that The Protagonist's Life Is Simple.
  • Downplayed in Farming Simulator. While farming is definitely simpler than in real life as technicalities such as weather, soil composition, humidity, crop varieties and animal health are absent, you do have to use quite a bit of equipment to grow, maintain and harvest the different crops of the game, and feeding your animals requires an entire new set of tools and equipment. For example: to harvest thin-stemmed crops (wheat, canola, barley or soybeans) you must use a harvester with one header (and if you harvested wheat or barley, you'd better gather the resulting hay deposits with a baler and sell them to a bale dealer for a pretty sizable profit), to harvest thick-stemmed crops (sunflower and corn) you need another header, to harvest chaff for cattle fodder you need a special harvester with a suitable header and a tipper because these harvesters don't have built-in storage, to harvest poplar trees you need that same harvester with a different header, to harvest potatoes you first need a top cutter and then a tractor-pulled harvester (unless you're willing to pay a much steeper price for a Grimme harvester that does both of these with the same machine). Some products are hard to even load up for transport, to sell wool, you need to load it onto a flatbed with a pallet fork and then there's loading wood from chopped down trees requiring either a log fork on the various loaders or a crane, not helped by the occasional hiccup with the physics engine Wreaking Havok as you handle objects.
  • The player characters in Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons series frequently fall into this. They often come from the city to start the farm after getting a letter—in the majority of games, this is a farm that belonged to a late grandfather, making them two generations removed from farm life. In Story of Seasons they just applied after getting a flier. Regardless, they arrive and pick up farm life within the span of a season at most, already knowing how to milk cows and plant seeds and thriving on the farm from the get-go. (Story of Seasons (2014) does have the player do a six-day "tutorial" with Eda, but after than they're on their own.)
  • Farming in Minecraft is far, far easier than in Real Life- for instance, you can make your crops grow on demand by adding bone meal. There are also very few pests that can't be kept away with a simple fence, plants are ready to harvest mere days after planting, and they can be grown indoors, lit only with torchlight. As for livestock, they only need to be fed when the player wants them to breed (and they'll give birth instantly), they never become aggressive or defiant (not that they can be used for much more than meat), and they're all hermaphrodites so there's no juggling amounts of them per sex. Somewhat enforced in this as in other video games, since games are intended to be... what was that word again... fun.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, despite being in a city where the sun is blocked by a giant rock ceiling, necessitating artificial light for crops, most of the farmers seem happy and enthusiastic about their work... because the only other job is demon hunting, which is extremely dangerous. Farming may be hard, but at least you don't risk getting mauled by this guy.
  • Stardew Valley is built on this. Your protagonist, despite being a former office drone, can handle a hoe, scythe, watering can, axe or pickaxe with ease. Crops will grow just fine as soon as the seeds are planted and just need to be watered daily and have a nearby scarecrow to keep birds away; once fully grown, can be harvested with ease. Farm animals do fine as long as they have a patch of grass or some hay to eat, and only need to be petted once in a while, besides the milking, shearing and collecting eggs stuff. However, it's implied that you have a special connection to nature (which is why the Junimo love you), which could account for your farming knack. In addition, your character owns the land and doesn't pay any bills or taxes, so you can put all your money towards the next purchase, and also doesn't have any living needs besides sleep (eating and drinking are optional).
  • Funny enough it's averted in Story of Seasons (2014)—but not by the player character. Fritz, the poorer farmer, moved out to the country to farm just on a whim similar to the player character. However he's not doing so hot compared to rivals Elise and Giorgio. He always struggles to run his farm, has a lot less crops, a smaller and more ramshackle house, only a few cows or chickens, and never has enough money to truly challenge anyone during the rival events. He's got the spirit, but he's not doing so hot overall.
  • Sunshine Acres is less about a farm than a backyard produce garden. Starting with a basic investment, you grow sunflowers, corn, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in ascending levels of complexity, aided by a Boston terrier puppy who digs up money that's been buried all over the property. Various equipment becomes available to make things easier. By planning your strategy and investments right, you can end up with millions. The atmosphere is intriguing, occasionally frustrating (especially the occasional epidemic requiring fungicides, and those damn sheep running in to eat everything) but overall relaxing.
  • Valheim: Farming only requires tilled soil (done with just a click), planting seed, and waiting for them to grow, while any two animals of a tameable species will produce offspring eventually with enough food. There aren't even seasons in Valheim. The main issue comes from Everything Trying to Kill You (and your crops). Presumably Scandinavian farmers knew how to deal with wolves and boars; trolls, goblins and tree-men, less so.
  • World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria has the farming community of Tillers, where the player can have their own farm. It's based on a simple minigame, with farming of course being much easier than in Real Life. Given a Hand Wave by the powerfully rich soil (enhanced by the water from the Vale of Eternal Blossoms) of the zone, and on that plot of land in particular. Justified with the garrison herb garden in Warlords of Draenor, though. You don't grow the herbs yourself, the garrison staff does it for you. You can also assign a follower with the herbalism special to it to increase your yield, thus delegating to an expert.

  • Nerf NOW!! parodies the Stardew Valley example here. An office drone who dreams of getting out of the rat race goes off to the farm...and soon finds himself longing for the cubicle life again.

    Western Animation 

  • Both averted and played straight in the Generator Rex episode "Hermanos". Rex thinks running a ranch will be simple and soon discovers that it isn't. However, Claire is able to learn an awful lot about farming just by watching videos on the internet.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Averted in "Simple Ways" —- Rarity tries changing her image from fashion designer to country girl because Trenderhoof (her Celebrity Crush) has taken a shine to Applejack. Their actual farming skills are nonexistent, nor is Applejack amused by the way they treat it like a casual hobby.
    • Also averted in "Magical Mystery Cure" where it shows that a pony who knows nothing of farming, in this case the fun-loving Pinkie Pie, would run Sweet Apple Acres into the ground in very short order.
  • While it's mainly baking with farming on the side, King Roland from Sofia the First believes this, so much that when he accidentally wishes that he was a baker instead of a king, he wants to stay for a while rather than undo the spell. What happens is a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome, and the family fails to adapt, with them only getting by because Sofia and her mother have actual farming and baking experience from their pre-royalty life.
  • The Canadian animated short Wild Life tells the story of a young Remittance Man who has this impression of life as a rancher on the prairie. He doesn't survive his first winter.

    Real Life 
  • After World War I, the Australian government gave land grants to veterans so as to settle sparsely populated areas of the country. Many failed miserably due to a lack of capital, support infrastructure, and the general inexperience of the mostly-city-raised soldiers. The project was restarted after the Second World War, this time with greater support for the farmers.
  • Jim Jones's Jonestown: the cult leader tried to create his own self-sufficient agricultural village where everyone worked in the fields. The vanguard actually did pretty well when sent on ahead to get Jonestown started, but the poor-quality soil couldn't produce enough food for the entire cult once it showed up, and there were other problems like storms destroying crops and mass disease outbreaks. And eventually, a depraved cult leader hoarding what food they did successfully grow.
  • The USA's Extended Homestead Act of 1909. Its intent was to facilitate the development of the Great Plains by providing land grants to would-be farmers. Unfortunately, this backfired spectacularly: the land was not conducive to traditional agricultural development (for one thing, the yearly rainfall estimates were based on what turned out to be a couple of abnormally wet years), and the homesteaders didn't understand the local ecology well enough to cultivate the land properly. Land mismanagement combined with one of the worst droughts in US history led to large-scale erosion and loss of topsoil, and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
  • This was one of the ways the U.S. government tried to solve the "Indian problem": if them dang lazy Indians were given plots of land and taught to farm and worship Christ, they would be more easily assimilated as "productive" members of "civilized" society. Many Native Americans grew crops long before the Anglos got here, and many were fine with Christianitynote , but the disastrous reservation breakup of 1890 was an attempt to get hunter-gatherer Plains Indians to do the same. The problem, again, was the land: that region is just not suitable for prosperous farming, but the Indians were blamed for the inevitable crop failure and the government cut their rations. Since the American Bison had already been virtually wiped out, you now had thousands of starving Indian people. The 1890 Ghost Dance tragedy arose out of this situation.
  • Hugely subverted in the late Soviet Union when the government started to allot the urban population small plots of land for hobby farming (and we mean small — they were usually 600 square meters, or about 0.15 acres). The urbanites, armed with general curiosity, hundreds of tomes on modern agriculture, and a desire to escape the monotony and horrible quality of state-provided food, took to the farming with such gusto that within a decade the (unofficial) output of these plots began to outstrip state-managed agriculture in some areas, especially vegetable production. All this despite most of these people having a day job and tending their suburban plots only on weekends. It spells volumes on the inefficiency of the official Soviet agriculture, but also about the intensity with which these City Mouses cultivated their land.
  • Many settlers of Canada (and other colonial countries) experienced this trope first hand. As 19th-century settler Susannah Moodie describes it in her memoirs Roughing it in the Bush: "[Advertisements for colonial farming] told of lands yielding forty bushels to the acre, but they said nothing of the years when these lands, with the most careful cultivation, would barely return fifteen; when rust and smut, engendered by the vicinity of damp over-hanging woods, would blast the fruits of the poor emigrant's labour, and almost deprive him of bread. They talked of log houses to be raised in a single day, by the generous exertions of friends and neighbours, but they never ventured upon a picture of the disgusting scenes of riot and low debauchery exhibited during the raising, or upon a description of the dwellings when raised—dens of dirt and misery, which would, in many instances, be shamed by an English pig-sty. The necessaries of life were described as inestimably cheap; but they forgot to add that in remote bush settlements, often twenty miles from a market town, and some of them even that distance from the nearest dwelling, the necessaries of life, which would be deemed indispensable to the European, could not be procured at all, or, if obtained, could only be so by sending a man and team through a blazed forest road,—a process far too expensive for frequent repetition."
  • The Khmer Rouge tried to reshape Cambodia into a self-sufficient agrarian society, including forcing millions of city-dwellers into agricultural labor camps. The result was up to two million dead.
  • Many Hippies turned to this in the back to the land movement after initially gathering and organizing in cities. The magazine Mother Earth News was founded to provide easy-to-understand but realistic instruction for hippie farmers. (There was also Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog, Living on the Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel (still in print) and Joan Shortney's How to Live on Nothing.) Some of these Communes still exist today. Presumably some hippies with rural backgrounds knew what they were getting into, although Stephen Gaskin's Farm had a very rough start. One of the harshest critics of communal life, Valerie Solanas in her "SCUM Manifesto", had the utmost contempt for male hippies who longed for The Simple Life and existence at a "mere species level" — not because they thought it was that, but because she did. She regarded farming as a "simple, non-intellectual activity". She didn't have a clue.
  • James Burke's documentary Connections points out that a lot of urbanites believe they could survive an apocalypse if they got out of the city fast enough; after all, they could just find an abandoned part of land and start farming. Yeah... no. There's a reason that serious believers in the end of the world start building their colonies so early (and take advantages of resources like night classes, mail order catalogs, and the Internet). There won't be time to learn later.
  • This is the main criticism that people from rural or farming backgrounds have made against the "cottagecore" aesthetic trend, as it's mainly popular among people who have never actually maintained farms or lived in the countryside without technology (which, obviously, is what's needed to post about cottagecore to begin with). Cottagecore on its face is all about celebrating the beauty of rustic life (wildflowers, berry picking, gardening, sewing dresses, etc.), without going into the downsides and hardships of such a lifestyle to begin with (the inherent difficulties of farm labor, cleaning up after the animals, harvesting crops every season, etc.). Because of this, critics contend that the movement trivializes farmers' hard work and sends the false message that living a simple, closer to nature life is easy, when it is anything but.