Well things on the farm are pretty good. The garden is shaping up after spending several and still days to come of real hard work. Things are growing fine but I’ve been overrun by flea beetles and Colorado potato beetles. The light winter we had helped make conditions perfect for these little devils. So I’m struggling to stay ahead of their eating. I’ve lost two rows of greens so far, which is painful. The first couple of years I had trouble making things grow now things are growing but being eaten before I can address the issues, Go figure!
We’re up to milking six soon to be seven milk goats, so milk and cheese production has been great. That’s the one thing that always stays steady without many surprises. The occasional bitter weed but really the milk business is the most stable out of everything we do. I get caught up sometimes in the sadness I feel when I know I can’t be a fulltime dairy and cheese maker. But that’s my lot. I don’t like it but I have accepted it. So in the meantime there are other things that keep me and the farm going.
I think my biggest challenge right now, well a couple of my biggest challenges are overworking and becoming overwhelmed. 12-13 hours a day of hard physical labor can get me down. I start feeling despair. Mostly because the monetary rewards aren’t that great, all the work and I still have a struggling garden, milk that can’t be made into cheese because I get to busy and bills that can’t get paid and I wonder why I’ve chosen such a life? And I know it’s because the rewards, like the past three days are earth moving and profound. There are many moments of utter joy. There are moments and many of them of absolute profound happiness. Happiness I’ve never known before. There are days and weeks I feel I’m engaged in the holy. And that’s why I do this.
Perhaps it’s selfish to want to feel bliss, to crave the connection with the earth and the elements. Maybe I’m crazy for wanting to feel every muscle in my body alive and engaged even if its pain. What brings me to this craving? I ponder this and I do in all honesty at times worry about my sanity. But I’ve tasted something. And I want more of it. It’s not unhealthy I don’t think, I mean there is probably more benefit than not, but I have that inner struggle, that identity issue. Who am I? I still go back in the past and feel a great sense of loss. The easy life I had and didn’t even know it! Now I’ve made my own life, so far and separate from the life I’ve known years ago I feel sometimes disconnected from everything I thought I knew. I suppose this is liberating and mostly I think it is but it’s also scary. And the fear lingers sometimes.
I love Krista Tippitt’s On Being the NPR show. It’s a pod cast I listen to frequently when I’m in the field. Yesterday I listened to interview with Ira Byock on mortality. Two things he said really stuck in my mind the first was in a conversation about dying well. “We’re going to be dead for a really long time”. And the second he quoted Lilly Tomlin in saying “forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past”. You know I thought “I’m going to die. I don’t know when, I don’t know how” So today matters. My life matters, the people I love matter. The feelings of happiness and bliss and joy I feel matters the pain and fear I feel matters. I need to learn how to embrace them and love them, each and every human thing I get to experience. The sore back, the exhilarating feeling of cold water on my face, and the past, good and bad is, just is. (See! I have the potential for being a good Buddhist sometimes). Ira is right when we do die, we’re going to be dead for a really long time.
Well I’m headed out to the field, going to finish planting squash, melon, okra, flowers and basil. I have a real sense of hope and excitement about the season. In spite of the bugs so many other things look like they have a fighting chance, including me.