A few nights ago I had one of those dreams that was oddly real, but, you know, also clearly not real and therefore incredibly disorienting. The part that was clearly not real was that I was living in somebodies guest house. In the dream I kept thinking to myself, “well this can’t be right, I’ve spent the last 13 years fixing up my own houses, why the hell am I in this guest house?” Like I knew it was wrong and I shouldn’t be there, but I couldn’t remember where I was supposed to be living instead.
I was so distraught in the dream– knowing that I was meant to be somewhere else but couldn’t remember where–that I actually woke myself up out of a dead sleep, opened my eyes, and saw view from my bed (through my bedroom door and out into the unfinished upstairs hallway), and I can tell you that’s the most relief I’ve ever personally felt seeing that ugly hallway with its floors torn up, half-painted walls, and no working light fixtures. I had just enough time to think, “Oh, that’s right, I live on this farm and the house isn’t finished.” before my head hit the pillow and I fell back asleep. But man, that overwhelming sense relief has stuck with me every day since.
Oh, that’s right. This is where I’m supposed to be.
And, guys, let me just tell you that it feels so great to be here right now. Not just because of my disorienting stress-dreams, but because this spring has been such a great reminder of what is possible on the farm.
The last six months have been pretty rough. Winter is never my best season, but add to that some farm failures (particularly with the bees) and the loss of a lot of my chickens, plus general exhaustion (and then a fun little two-month jaunt where I thought I was developing arthritis in every joint in my body, but turns out was just having a bad reaction to some medication) and there was definitely a period of time where I was questioning my ability to do anything right at all, much less all of the things the farm requires.
There was a very clear moment early this spring when I found myself balancing on the knife-edge of a big decision. Of all the big decisions on the farm, actually. Do I pull back? Retreat to a safe and comfortable place because I’m unsure and lacking confidence that I can do right by my little farm? Or do I move forward–plant new plants, get new chicks, install new bees– even though I’m physically and emotionally exhausted and have very clearly learned this year that hard work is no guarantee of success?
My grandmother gave me one of her gardening publications recently, and on the cover was a quote by Rachel Carson (the author of Silent Spring.) She says, “There’s something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature– the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.”
And that exactly captures my experience on the farm this year. That infinitely healing part of knowing that shit gets better.
New plants are put in the ground…
New life is hatched…
I took some vacation time from my day job this week and I’ve been reveling in long hours of farm-work instead of desk-work every day. Planting, hauling, mowing, shoveling…
Tending the land and the animals.
It’s exhausting work, and almost every other year I’ve found myself overwhelmed by the amount of things that need to be done in spring, but this year I’m just grateful.
It’s not easy. But dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.