Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Method in the Madness and Learning from the Land


A dear friend commented about yesterday's blog:

"I remember reading about the frigid temperatures of the past and thinking, 'Why doesn't she just sell those farm animals, freeing herself of all that work?' Hauling water by wagon to those animals was beyond me. But, through the years, I've learned that's part of who you are."

Many people feel the same way about my animals. Yes. I know I could have an easier life if I sold whatever is causing my current challenge. Easier, however, does not always mean a richer life.

I didn't grow up with livestock or horses, but there was always a picture in my head of black and white cows on rich, green pastures. When I arrived at the farm for the first time to "take a look," I saw the picture in my head in living color, alive and breathing in the field. 

I was home.

Within a few months, I had a farm, chickens, guineas, a horse, and a farm hand, Sam. Toby (pictured above), now 30+ years old, was my first horse. He taught me to ride and jump ditches. He quieted my fears. Once a week, I rode across the land on horseback to check fences and pastures. I soon bought a second horse, and Sam rode along. Those were some of the sweetest days of my life.

Before long, I had cows, a bull, and calves. I love cows, and their slow, gentle meandering. I love to see their babies running and playing in the fields. 

I sold my cows a few years ago, and I've regretted that decision many times. I'm not ready to tie myself down to cattle again, but I miss them.

My husband left the animals to me most of the time, but Ryan loved them as much as I did. The year he learned to ride the horse alone, he spent most of the summer riding. I took sandwiches to him so he could eat lunch on horseback.  He and Toby were inseparable. 

Ryan joined 4-H and our fun really began. He showed cows, horses, goats, and pigs. It was a wonderful time of life, and we both grew up in many ways during those years. He still rides the horses in pretty weather when he's home. 

What I seldom talk about is the picture that's still in my head. Long before I came to the farm, I envisioned a place where women could come to retreat for a day or two, get exercise taking care of small animals, and learn about health, and life, and faith. I envisioned families coming to camp in tents, long before "glamping" was a word.

The picture's still in my head, a vision yet unfulfilled. The animals are a part of who I am, but they're also a part of what I still expect to do, one day in the not-too-distant future.

Part of that vision is already a virtual/digital reality, as you share my adventures through the words I write. Selling the last of the animals and leaving the farm would mean giving up my dream. One day, I believe it will be an actual reality.

I'm willing to wait. 

I recognize that the life I've chosen is not the life most women want, and that many people can't understand. For me, this life is not just a choice, it's who I am. 

I see God in the animals, the azaleas Sam and I planted, the lake, the fish, and the grass in the pasture. I see God here, and that means everything to me. It's my refuge, but it's also a place of worship for me. 

There's nothing holy about my land, but holiness begins to happen here, because I leave the noise of the world behind and focus on Him. I'm refined here. I sort out the issues of the day here, and there's no where else on this earth that happens with such depth and efficiency. 

I'm never closer to God than right here on this farm. I commune with Him as I muck out stalls, feed horses, and haul water. What's more precious than that? Nothing.

In 1989, God placed me on this land. He put the dreams in my heart, and He's made some of them a reality. I love this life, with all its challenges and hardships. I don't have the kind of life many of my friends have, but, to me, I have so much more. The dream continues to unfold, and, as long as God allows, I'm hanging on for the ride. 

It's the sweetest place I know. 

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4 esv
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Frost-Proof Faucet in the Box and the Blessing of Second Chances