Where am I, and how on earth did I get here? Wasn’t I just 15 yesterday? When did my life change from just trying to pass math class to trying to keep about a billion little critters alive?
This was my contemplation this morning, under a purple pink sky, holding a hose, filling a chicken waterer for what felt like the umpteenth time. Fat little meat birds scrambling around my feet trying to get a fresh sip from the hose.
I stood there in that moment and looked around. Normally I play on my phone as I fill waterers. It’s a mundane chore. I literally just stand there. But this morning I kept my phone in my back pocket and looked around. There were bovines watching me – eagerly awaiting the moment that the hose ended up in their trough (thankfully I don’t have to stand around for that one). Lay hens were marching through the yard on a mission known only to them. Meat birds scrambling around my feet, soft little cheeps and peeps and they stomp about. Goats playing, jumping and smashing heads. Two gorgeous livestock guardian dogs watching in different directions as the sky slowly got lighter. It was all stunning, and amazing.
It was only a few months ago that I seriously thought about ending the journey. For the first time I felt trapped. Unable to go anywhere, take a vacation, go away for a weekend. Do anything other than farm. I’d never had this restlessness before and it overtook me this summer. I was miserable. Add on the fact that our first round of meat birds were a write off due to multiple issues that literally cost us hundreds of dollars. The meat rabbits just wasn’t going our way (I honestly thought raising rabbits would be a lot easier than this!) The bull we brought in to bred our heifers, Massey and Ferguson, was more interested in running all over town and we got several calls from neighbours about him being in their fields, yard, driveway, and it was our job to try and get the dude home. The goats were breaking everything in sight, as goats do. It was too much. I broke.
I spent a lot of time wandering in the forest this year. To be honest, it was because I was hiding from the farm. Hiding from everything that needed me. It’s nice to be needed, but to be needed day in and day out. No break, no time off. No escape. It’s exhausting. I’m sure all the Mommas out there raising littles know what I’m saying. However, it’s different when you don’t have kids. People don’t notice that you need a break. There’s no grandparents weekend so you can recharge. There’s no one. So I ran away in the only way I could. I spent many hours under the trees, breathing all that fresh air. I took up mushroom hunting, which gave me a new purpose. The thrill of the hunt, the excitement when you find an edible specimen (I stick to the very basic of mushrooms because I do like life). It brought a new element to our dinner table. We ate more from the forest this year than we grew.
I watched the trees change colours, and I watched them turn grey and barren. My gorgeous forest now just bare. Awaiting new life. Fall brings a certain renewal to it. The fresher air, the ending of a season, the beginning of a harvest (that never happened. My garden was a fail as well). It’s like a breath of fresh air.
The reality of life is even when you put everything on pause, the world keeps spinning. There are still things that have to be done. There are still little lives that depend on me. So, pause or not, I mucked stalls, filled waterers, ate our own homegrown meat (well the stuff still in the freezer from last year), and worked up an appetite again. Sometimes you have to go right back to the very beginning.
How did I end up here? Because I like food. I like fresh food and real food, and food that is raised properly and with care. Food that tells a story. I want to finish the story, and finish well.
So there I was this morning. Brown work boots, dirty blue jeans, camo jacket, completing yet another mundane chore, but with eyes wide open. Looking around. Taking it in. The fresh morning air, wide open spaces with no else around. A dairy cow. A dairy cow! Well, actually two. Realizing that 15 years ago this was everything I didn’t even dare to dream of. This was a life that I couldn’t even imagine for myself because it was too good. It was rich. Rich with colour, with life, with taste, with smell.
I’m darn rich and taking in every bit of it.
That’s where I am. As for how I got here, well it is just for the grace of God. And it’s by His grace that I’m still here tending to many little creatures.