My response to most of life’s propositions has inevitably been, “Let’s do it!”. This is why I met and married my husband within four months of meeting him. And even though we barely spoke the same syllables, we understood each other’s soul. It’s likely, at least in part, why we have seven children. That same gumption springs forth when life brings other enchanting offers our way. More specifically, they appeal to us if they require a great deal of hard labor and finish with the day with joy. One such offer cropped up this month. And now we have a calf.
A Painful History
Maybe I am brave. Perhaps I am naive. I like to think I am neither, but that possibly God had a recipe with ingredients I somehow recognized as they presented themselves. Even some of life’s hardest lessons for us, bore a silver lining. Often that silver lining was intensive “growth”.
Remembering our first couple years here, now makes me smirk….and cringe.
As a young couple, with four small children, and a brand new raw territory all our own, we were SO excited to have acreage that we made a ton of “freshman” mistakes from our enthusiasm.
We ordered ‘all the farm animals’ without having enough outbuildings. Chickens broke free from the coop hourly. Sheep escaped. Turkeys flapped wildly about until our dog claimed them. Then slowly, we had to witness through trial and chaos, the lost of those animals.
I grew ‘all the things’ with such precision and care. I watched my beautiful plants bloom, with the enthusiasm of a new mother, only to witness them be torn apart by our animals and toddlers.
It was painful. Every step forward was a crushing disappointment. It was heartbreaking for us, really. Seasoned farmers around us, even friends, saw us as foolish newbies…and they were right. But our whole heart was in our homestead, even if our timing and judgement were off.
We did not want to fail, but try as we might…we did. Even our goat, my beloved valentine’s present from Yv, was attacked and killed in its pen, by a dog overnight. But the epitome of pains, was our gorgeous Percheron, Yvan’s dearest companion, who choked to death while grazing peacefully in the field. We loved all of our animals, and we were scraped quite bare.
New Beginnings “Again”
Our motivation was scathed as our dreams shredded. We no longer felt brave or ambitious. We realized we needed “organization”, and a plan. Amidst our chaos, with back to back pregnancies, major home renovations, homeschooling with now 5 plus kiddos, and our homestead crumbling, we discovered the ‘order’ that worked for us. We streamlined our daily habits as a family, learned a few tricks to help life move a little smoother, and accepted the level of daily ‘chaos’ that was reasonable for our size family (ie: less toys to pick up means more time to read and “adventure” outdoors). Embracing yourself, and your weaknesses, is half the battle of change.
Despite our mountains to climb, we slowly found our rhythm. We took time to grieve our losses. We learned to be patient. Even in the midst of yearning for a ‘homestead’ …we waited. We finished things that needed work and attention and accepted newfound grace for our shames and disappointments. Letting go and finding new focus, helped us heal.
The hardest part of failing is having your own weaknesses laid bare. But seeing them openly, lays good ground to rebuild something stronger…a lasting firmament.
“When the Cows Come Home”
Here we are….beginning anew. Today, we are adding our first animal to our homestead since “Our Great Loss”. All the anticipation of this day…all the waiting…is wrought with joy and little anxieties of old failures. So, allow me to say it loud for the people in the back, “We are NOT professional homesteaders, and we are not pretending to be”. But we are on a journey…that began in our colourful childhood dreams. This journey we offer humbly to share with you despite the fact that there are many things you would do better than us. Our path must be blazed by our own feet, and our song must be written to our own rhythm…but we’d love to have you along, for all these splendid runs of happiness and all the utter devastation of disappointments that surely will arise again.
This, is the tiny seed that we sow in the ground once more, wrought with hope and watchful eyes…and open calloused hands.
So today, marks DAY ONE, for us, of a new beginning. It is a ‘life after death’, we willingly are swallowed up in.
We have a calf. His sweeping eyelashes and snubbed nose deliver incredulous charm, and soothe a great hope realized.
Beginning again…from any stand point…is possible for anyone… and I am so thankful WE were graced a second chance to raise our own food, and learn new lessons as farmhands, enslaved to our love of brown earth and grit. Now, we once more can embrace the land we have longed to painstakingly tame, with its wild woods.
Lying in the darkest dark last night, dead beat and exhausted from the long workday, I heard Yvan’s cradling voice, and in it the sharp ring of hope say, “You know…tomorrow begins a new life for us.”
“I know.” I whispered back.