“It’s Never Too Late” is a new series that tells the story of people who decide to pursue their dreams on their own terms.
Do you hear the one about the opera singer turned farmer?
There is no punchline. There’s just the waking up before dawn, and the baling, and the 150 heifers, and one with the pink eye and the thousand other realities of Martha Prewitt’s new existence.
It was not the plan. Growing up on the family farm in Versailles, Ky., Two centuries of Prewitt corn, hay and cattle, the plan was: let.
She did so, after a passion for performance in 15 years of classical singing and opera, performing with the Knoxville Opera, the Capitol Opera Richmond in Virginia, and the Charlottesville Opera in Virginia, and earning a Masters in Vocal Performance. along the way. But sometimes passions curdle, and sometimes barn doors open again.
At 33, following the sudden death of her father last year, Ms Prewitt returned home. It never seemed possible to do what he had been doing all these years. But there, under the great Kentucky sky, she found that something had changed. (The following interview has been edited and condensed.)
Tell me about the opera life you led before this change?
I entered the opera through the choir in high school. The thrill of singing with an orchestra, the vibration in your bones, being totally in your character and completely outside of yourself. There is nothing else like it.
But there are things in the industry that don’t suit me, politically and culturally. With a few exceptions, I thought the opera world was operating under an outdated and elitist business model. A few years ago, I started to fall in love.
Have you ever thought about farming?
The farm has been in the family since around 1780. My father was a farmer since he learned to walk. He could do it all: build a house, fix machinery, take care of soil pH, plumbing and electrical work. Farming never looked good to me, in part because I just didn’t think I could to do this. I’m a female, I’m 5’6 “- that was a lot.
After she passed away in June 2020, I was living at home again to be with my mother, and this little worm started to make its way into my brain: “Women can be farmers too. Maybe you are not strong now, but maybe throwing hay bales will make you strong.
What made you take this chance?
I always knew that I would eventually inherit the farm, and it means a lot to me that it remains a farm. Who knows which developer would buy it and turn it into a housing estate or a shopping center?
I started to think, if this means so much to me, why not take it on? Why not me? Soon I was researching things like regenerative farming or how much chemicals to put in the spray mixture.
How did you get started?
Those first few days I started getting up early and going out with our farm manager, Sherman. At first we just fed the cattle together, then I started working full days with him.
I started to like it. If there’s one aspect of farming that you don’t like, it doesn’t take long before something different needs to be done. I got stronger. And I’ve learned that I’m pretty optimistic, which is good, because a farmer has to be.
How did you find the courage to embark on this great project?
My father once said to me, “When things need to be done on a farm, you just have to do them. There is no choice. It’s true, and I’ve learned that it’s fine with me. I’m still pretty terrified, but I also started to think, maybe I can be good at this.
How has this new life changed you?
During confinement, I did not go out for six weeks. I didn’t even get out of my car. Now, I’m outside every day, most of the day. I have hardly used my computer since my return and I don’t watch much television. I have a much deeper appreciation for nature and the environment – its beauty and also its power.
Are you still singing?
A lot of what I do these days is drive a tractor. It’s great because I can sing as loud as I want. “Un bel dì vedremo”, from “Madame Butterfly” is one of my favorite tunes, and I’m going to start singing it in the middle of a field, surrounded by trees, birds and dirt. I sang for the cattle a few times. Sometimes insects fly in my mouth.
What would you say to other people who feel stuck and are looking to make a difference?
Everyone has a different path. In my case, just because all these other farmers have been doing this their whole lives, it hasn’t my ability to cultivate less.
If you are feeling stuck, it is so important to be patient and not to panic about it. Everything you do gives you experience, skills and tools wherever you go. I ended up finding something much deeper than I expected. It is as if I worked in all times, past, present and future, in the midst of my ancestors who were there before and future generations who will come after me.
Something you wish you had done differently when you were younger?
I would have liked to have done 4H.
What can people learn from your experience?
People always say, “Follow your passion”. Well i tried that. I sang opera. This is ultimately not the way I want to spend my life.
I have passed, I do not know how many, personality tests. Nothing ever said I should be a farmer except that nagging little voice saying maybe I could.
We’re looking for people who decide it’s never too late to change course, change their life, and pursue their dreams. Should we talk to you or someone you know? Share your story here.