Year 5: Taking Stock and Being Grateful

Last week marked 5 years to the day since I officially closed on this property and took my first victory lap around the farm.

That inaugural Victory Lap in 2012 took place on a particularly balmy day in March:


Every year since, I’ve made a point to walk the perimeter of the property, champagne in hand, and take some time to just be grateful for everything I’ve got here. The freedom, the work, the possibilities, the fun, the chance to build an amazing life for myself.

Some years (like 2015) I’ve had to bundle up for freezing temps for my annual victory lap…


Some years (like 2014) I’ve had to trudge through a couple of feet of snow…


On years when I’m tired, and weather conditions aren’t ideal for a quarter-mile hike through the field, I sometimes think to myself “I could just do this tomorrow when the weather will be better”. But then I remember that doing the work–and being grateful–even when conditions aren’t ideal, well, that’s the whole point.

And it’s safe to say that this year– on the day marking my fifth year on the farm– conditions were not ideal. We’d been getting 70mph wind-gusts for the better part of the day. So windy that power lines were down everywhere, a semi had overturned on one of the main roads leading from my house, and this happened…


Yeah. That’s my greenhouse. It had been staked in place with four rebar anchor brackets like this…


Which provided adequate wind support, right up until those 70mph wind gusts, and then, not so much.


The wind didn’t let up for a good 8 hours, and I was worried the greenhouse would continue to cartwheel across the field, so I did the only thing I could think of to keep it in place…


Braced it with the tractor.

I also started dismantling it as quickly as I could to minimize any additional damage to the pieces.

There was some other incidental damage around the farm, and the power was out for 3 days post-windstorm, and this was the day I was supposed to be feeling grateful and take my victory lap around the farm…

So I did.


(That’s beer because there was no champagne in the house and no way to get any.)

Was I bummed and a little frustrated? Absolutely. I’ve spent a lot of time in that greenhouse this winter, drinking wine and planning for this year’s garden…


But this is life on the farm. Hell, this is just life sometimes. And guess what? It’s nothing that can’t be fixed. Yes, it’s going to be hard work. Work I wouldn’t have to do again if I’d built it better the first time. Lesson learned.

And maybe that’s what I’m most grateful for. I believe I could be living any number of different lives right now and be just as happy with them as I am here, but this life in particular teaches me so much.

It teaches me to build better (by occasionally blowing things over when I don’t build well enough), it teaches me to be stronger, and to be innovative when I’m just not strong enough. It teaches me about loss and making hard decisions. About hard work, and determination, and doing the right thing even when it’s not the easy thing. It teaches me to be grateful for little things all of the time and not just when it’s convenient.

But maybe the lesson it teaches me most often is that I am owed nothing. I can work hard, and things still break. I can provide for my flock, and animals still die. I might feel tired and in need of rest, and this life will demand I get up and give more.

I am owed nothing for the work I do here, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t rewards…


Here’s to five years, and, if I’m lucky, fifty more.

21 Responses

  1. This is one of the loveliest thing I have ever read. You are an inspiration and a fun one, at that!

  2. You capture a beauty that is intrinsic to who you are and undeniably real. You may perceive that you are just surviving a chosen reality but there are those of us in the blogospehere (is that a thing?) that see the romance through the wind storm and the passion in the fading animals. Your farm is testament of who you are, and it’s spectacular in its refinement..
    (Yeah, I got that insight from creeping your blog… what of it?) That’s my best attempt at encouragement from a faceless comment with the utmost respect.

  3. Happy Farmiversary!

    Great outlook!

    Tractor anchor cracked me up,
    can hear you/it saying ‘Stay!’

    Hope GH goes back together with minimal issues.

  4. How completely awesome it is that you are celebrating five years already!
    Thanks for sharing … and inspiring <3

  5. congratulations on 5 years! I can’t believe that happened to the greenhouse. I’m not quite clear on the post, can it still be salvaged?

  6. Sorry about the greenhouse, I guess it is an appropriate metaphor for showing you that life always throws you curve balls no matter how nailed down you think it is. great post! and super congrats on 5 years at black feather farm!!!

  7. YOU . . . lovely lady are the VICTORY in and of itself! Looking forward to your next 50+ years with you! Infinite congrats on your first 5!

  8. Congrats and wow. I don’t know how you would have fixed it better to the ground. If it was better attached maybe it would have been more destroyed. I’ll be interested to see how you rebuild it better!

  9. My roof has a few loose shingles thanks to the hurricane-force winds we had last week. My dad’s biggest worry was not the roof, or even if I made it home safely through the windstorm that was toppling streetlights, trees, and telephone poles, but whether or not the greenhouse we’ve built together over the last year was still intact (it was).

    So sorry about the damage. I sure hope it’s easily fixable–the greenhouse was and is a lovely addition to your garden.

  10. I really needed this today. I tend to forget how fortunate I am so thank you. Your farm is beautiful and inspirational, as are you! Enjoy your next 50!

  11. “I am owed nothing for the work I do here, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t rewards…”

    Love this statement.

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.