This past Spring and Summer were our most difficult years of farming thus far. It wasn’t the weather, although that did play a part. It wasn’t that we were ill or injured. It was that we lost more animals than ever before. It seemed that our little spring hatchlings were more determined to die
than anything. Every morning, we found dead meat chicks and turkeys. Our laying hens have full-range of our pasture, and the neighborhood fox realized that. After the fox, the racoons stepped and joined the feasting. A few skunks made an appetizer from our chicken’s eggs. The greatest loss was my 5 month-old Holstein. I bought her from a local farmer and within a few weeks, she followed me all over the barnyard, ate from my hand, and was just a lovely creature. Then she fell and within a few days, was dead. My heart broke over the loss, so many losses.
While my husband and I have studied our farm and have realized where we can make improvements, different set-ups for different animals, we still feel that loss, both financially and in our own faith in our ability to do this farming thing well.
That’s the way of things, isn’t it? A passion takes hold of your mind. You research and plan and work until it is a reality. And when you have invested time, sacrifice and money into that project, the real learning begins. We now know that chickens and turkeys can’t share the same space. Turkeys when they are less than eight-weeks old prefer death over food. After eight weeks of age, they are almost invincible. Chicks need warmth, but not too much warmth. They need rounded corners in brooding boxes and good food. There are some batches of chicks that just don’t flourish despite our best efforts, but we always give our best.
I don’t know what project you have invested into your life, but I imagine that you are learning quite a bit; about the project, the people connected to that, and about yourself.
Projects for adults can be likened to Life University, the College of Hard Knocks, where tuition is paid through mistakes and diplomas are granted when you teach someone else how to complete the project successfully. For us, our project is the farm, trying to replace our work incomes by working early mornings, evenings and weekends to build something that can sustain us through another shut-down. As I type this, my husband is cutting wood for our own heat, and to sell for others. Propane and heating costs are through the roof! For those who planned ahead with wood-stove heat sources, we have a supply and therefore, an income, albeit a small one.
People that we meet in our projects are the most varied and novel-worthy folks, some the heroes, the spunky side-kick, others the bearers of negativity. The lesson here is to first figure out who is who, follow the heroes, meet the heroes the side-kicks follow and keep the antagonists at a distance. Sometimes there are hand-shakes, other times the gloves come off. In the end, I pray we are smarter, wiser, and have the scars to prove our lesson.
The lessons about myself have been the most revealing, the most difficult and the most valuable. I have learned to set aside my pride and learn from those who know more than me. I decided to work even when I don’t want to, to read and write when the sun is down so I can farm and garden in the daylight, and to trust in God.
That last one is the hardest. I have never seen God, but I have certainly felt His presence and love. I have read His Word, studied the Story of Salvation, and can see the effect of His wonders on the world. I see Him in history, in politics and right here on my own little farm and with my own little family.
Come next spring and summer, I don’t know what to expect, but I will trust in Him. I will bring the lessons of this year into next, I will implement my learning, I will be humble, hardworking, and honest. Other than that, I don’t know how to be. I don’t ever want to be anything other than humble, hardworking and honest. God, grant me the graces to be all you created me to be.