This is the winter night I dreamt about all summer. A quiet evening after a satisfying early dinner with visitors, Now long gone on their journey east to Virginia I sit in the most comfortable warm items of clothing I can muster which happen to be farm print flannel PJ’s made by my niece Marnelle, scootched up to my private little space heater sitting in my favorite chair, doing one of my favorite things and drinking my favorite beverage, and listening to my favorite person snuggled up under fluffy blankets on the bed, banging away at the keys of her PC, giving me updates on our recently departed guests whereabouts. “they’ve made it to I40”.
It’s everything I’ve dreamed it would be. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I have made quite a hobby out of being self reflective and contemplative. It’s an easy thing to do when you spend most of your time with yourself, by yourself. I learned to get real comfortable with my flaws and my bright moments seem something to celebrate, and when I have them, bright moments. I do, I celebrate, with a whoop or a big knowing smile in the mirror, a sly wink at the goats as I walk by. When I have a bright moment all the animals on the farm know about it. I make a point to go around and give everyone a little extra attention. The dogs get a pat on the head and the chickens might just see a piece of dry cat food flung their way. I have more bright moments than I give myself credit for but the knuckle head moments just seem to stand out more. It’s like they have some kind of fluorescent marker on them so you can find them in the tall grass. They just never go away.
For the past month I’ve had the opportunity to really hone my hobby. I have neatly dissected the past year, thought about all that went wrong and all that went right and now I’ve had a whole two days of Christmas bliss of laying around the house reading and contemplating, and you know what I’m ready to put it to bed. The past that is, the blood, guts and smelly things. Gone, and what I have left are wonderful glorious, beautiful lessons! Little presents of wisdom that will keep me safe I hope. I won’t miss these things I’ve given myself heck about for the last umpteen months. I know there will be plenty of new things that will cross my path, but it’s kind of nice to leave some stuff behind. It doesn’t need me anymore and I don’t need it. The best thing about it and the thing I notice the most right now is how much easier it is to look forward. The future doesn’t seem so ominous and mysterious and fateful.
I’ve started the process of planning the coming year. Just for the record I have to for my organic certification records; estimated crop yields etc. last year when I was doing this I felt as if I was walking on a frozen pond. In Oklahoma. Just as I would take another step I would hear the creaking and cracking of the ice. I could go no further. Today feels so incredibly different and I feel as free as a bird. The funny thing is there are no plans for growth, no big new ideas, as a matter of fact not a whole lot will change from last year, and it will be better. I’m growing down. Focusing on the roots of the farm, the stability, the viability. I want to take what the farm does best and perfect it. I want to take what the farm doesn’t do well (or more aptly what I don’t do well at) and scratch it. Grow down.
I’ll be taking far less CSA members but providing them with a higher percentage of their diet. I’ll be growing in a smaller space but able to build the fertility in the soil so more production is possible. I’ll still have just as many farm table dinners and I’ll still take two interns, but I’ll be able to breathe and this sounds so completely glorious to me. Simply put I’ll just be concentrating my efforts. I’m not saying the work won’t be hard and there won’t be struggles and I won’t stop being poor, but I actually feel like for the first time in many years my clothes are finally fitting. That means something to me.
I have found no greater joy than living this life on a farm, I have never felt more satisfaction from working a twelve hour day filthy dirty and sweaty than I have from a day cleaning out barns and weeding beds of corn. There is no sweeter smell of that which comes from morning soil heating from the sun, or that of wool on the sheep as I push my nose deep into the warming girth. There is no flower more beautiful than an okra blossom. And not a more beautiful a person than the one whom I get to spend this life with and share these wonderful things with. I feel as free as a bird.