Life and Loss on the Farm

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I know I’ve been absent around here lately, which honestly isn’t unusual for me at this time of year, but I felt it was time to check-in. Many of you have reached out to me, offered support, and asked about my well-being after my mother’s passing. I typically respond with a brief “hanging in there.” This isn’t a lie, but truthfully, the answer is far more complex. 

I find myself caught between the unyielding demands of farm life and grief. Navigating the path of loss while simultaneously being in the middle of the farm’s busiest season can be arduous some days. 

Living on a farm has been my dream, and I count myself incredibly blessed to have married into a farming family. The deep connection with nature is undeniable—witnessing the seasons change, nurturing crops from seed to harvest, raising animals in an open environment—it brings me immeasurable joy. This lifestyle fosters mindfulness and gratitude for the seemingly minor yet significant things in life.

Farm life is often depicted as a portrait of tranquil simplicity and serene harmony with nature: golden sunlight breaking over a quiet homestead at dawn and the rhythmic cycles of sowing, tending, and reaping. In this idyllic view, one can almost hear the harmonious songs of birds greeting the morning, the contented mooing of grazing cattle, and the whisper of the wind through wheat fields. 

However, the less acknowledged side of this rural idyll demands immense courage, unwavering determination, and profound resilience. The truth of farm life is one of balance, teetering between the joy of the natural world and the ceaseless demands of agriculture. 

Perhaps it’s my mother’s recent loss that has left me emotionally drained, intensifying the physical toll the farm usually takes on me, and I am much more aware of the demands of the farm this year.

The farm, once solely my sanctuary, has now also become a place of reflection, sometimes serving as a stark reminder of the huge responsibility it carries. The dawn, previously symbolic of quiet beginnings, now signals a relentless agenda of duties: feeding and tending to the animals, the unyielding cycle of planting, nurturing, and harvesting the crops, and the never-ending maintenance the land demands.

One profound truth I’ve come to understand is that, even amidst personal loss and sorrow, life on the farm continues.

This is both a blessing and a burden.

Some days, I find solace in immersing myself in farm work.

On other days, the farm requires an energy and focus that feels overwhelming, weighed against my emotional fatigue.

Like any occupation, farming presents its own set of challenges. The days are relentless, starting before sunrise and often extending long after sunset. The work is physically taxing, leaving little energy for other pursuits. There are no holidays or weekends; the farm requires daily attention. This perpetual demand can make finding time for personal pursuits or relaxation challenging.

The physical demands of farming—long hours standing, bending, and working the land—are both invigorating and exhausting. The mental strain can be equally grueling, as critical decisions that significantly impact the farm’s productivity and sustainability constantly need to be made. From monitoring weather patterns to determining the optimal time for harvesting and fertilization, troubleshooting machinery malfunctions, and negotiating market prices for produce, farming requires both problem-solving skills and strategic planning.

Farming tests not only physical endurance but also intellectual fortitude and emotional resilience.

Yet, the satisfaction that comes from seeing the fruits of your labor provides a unique sense of joy and accomplishment. Being immersed in farm work also offers an opportunity for mindfulness. You become attuned to the subtle changes in nature, noticing signs of impending rain, the first buds of spring, and the shifting hues of autumn leaves.

The farm, despite its challenges, also rejuvenates. The work might be grueling, but the connection to nature has a way of invigorating the spirit. The fresh country air, chirping birds, and feeling the earth underfoot provide a sense of grounding and well-being.

The demands of farming are formidable, but they are also a source of pride and fulfillment. The joy of working the land, nurturing life, and contributing to the community often outweighs the challenges. 

The strength required in farming – the resilience and perseverance, the capacity to keep going despite storms, droughts, or failed crops – has, in many ways, been a mirror of my journey through grief. Farming, like grieving, is a process. There are good and bad days, moments of success and failure. 

And so, while I am ‘hanging in there’ and still coming to terms with the loss of my mother, I am also learning, growing, and healing. Each day brings its own challenges and demands, but each day also brings the promise of a new dawn, a fresh start. In the daily cycles of farm life, I find echoes of my resilience and capacity to continue in a world without my mother.

In farming, I’ve found a metaphor for my grieving process – a balance between acknowledging the pain of loss and nurturing new growth.

Through it all, the farm stands as a testament to endurance and growth, a mirror to my own journey. Like the farm, I am still here, still standing. The loss of my mother is a scar that will always be a part of me, but it is not all that I am. I am also the early riser, the sower of seeds, the caretaker of animals. I am a part of the ceaseless cycle of life, love, loss, and rebirth that the farm embodies.

And so, I keep moving forward. I keep tending to the farm, to the cycles of life it represents, and in doing so, I tend to my own healing. The grief and challenges remain, but so does the joy, the satisfaction, the fulfillment of farm life. And in this balance, I am finding a way to navigate this uncharted path of loss.

 In the end, both farming and life are about cultivating resilience, nurturing growth, and finding beauty even in the hardest times.

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