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A Reflection: Lessons from the Farm

Driving down the highway in Kentucky at 3 am I had a lot of time for reflection.  We were off to visit friends that became family and then moved away. My sweet family of 6 lightly snoring next to me and in the backseat gave rhythm to my meditation.  It has been almost 15 years since I left my life in the city to pursue something richer that only nature has to offer.  In this process, I have found a beauty that can't be manufactured, only created.

Lessons from the garden were my first teachers.  The subtle mystery of planting a seed in April on hope and prayer only to find yourself harvesting bushels of fruits from its branches in July.  I am always amazed by my July garden.  This year just like the last year I hit so many obstacles during planting season.  Poor weather, pest damage but the worst were the chickens.  Those curious fluff balls constantly find ways through the garden fence to scratch up tender seedlings and take dust baths in my raised beds.  I fixed the fence, clipped wings, planted and replanted seven times.  Finally, the chickens got the picture and stayed on their side of the fence and my resilient garden caught up.  What a miracle it is that plants just want to grow.  We as humans can relate.  There is such an innate drive in us to pursue knowledge, passion and wisdom through life lessons.  What a beautiful thing it is to hope, to dream.

The cattle on our farm taught me patience.  But not in the way one might imagine.  Through observing their behavior, their love for routine and their easy movements.  There was a season I milked every evening on the farm and no matter how chaotic the rest of my day was when it was milking time it was like my barnyard yoga.  I filled the hot soapy buckets and would rhythmically squat down, wash and dry every cows utter, switching machines and escaping into my head with the push-push of the pulsators as my sound track.  It was there in the barn I learned to focus.

As the children came along, the farm chores increased and the drive to eat only from our own land I learned balance.  I learned that multi-tasking is not really efficient and it is best to focus on one job and see it through start to finish.  This is also where I learned to prioritize what was necessary and what could wait until tomorrow.

Through all these gifts from the farm the best lesson I learned was how to love deeply.  When the work is hard and the days go by fast you learn to not waste any minute.  Our farm has always been a hub, a refuge for those that find us when they need it most.  Those that walk into our lives on the farm become life long friends.  We spend hours, working, teaching, laughing and playing music together because at the end of it all love is far more nourishing to the body than any natural food. Together we sow seeds of kindness, compassion, empathy and so much more.  So many have come into our lives for a season that always seems far to short, but that being the nature of our college town they have gone.  When they depart they take a small piece of our home, the memories of our farm and in return they leave an everlasting impression in our hearts and in our gardens.

At the end of the day the life lesson I cherish the most from the farm is how to love so much that it hurts.  It is what strengthens us, it is what points us to the creator of the universe, it is the fulfillment of hope.  So as I work steadily in my garden and in my kitchen I am surrounded by the love of friends who have become sisters and brothers to us.  I gaze upon flowers planted by humans who now live across the country in California, ingredients in the kitchen gathered together but not to be shared and sweet sourdough fermenting, the starter from a sister who lived with us for a time but now calls Ohio home.  It is these precious gifts that encourage me to love even greater, to pour out my everything into this life as we are not promised tomorrow. 

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