Friday, September 14, 2012

then morning comes

I have been dealing with a lot of stress lately. I think the deadline for the manuscript, the Mother Earth News Fair, Winter Prep, and personal ghosts all converged at the same time. I wake up worrying about mistakes I made that are too late to fix, money in my bank account, and arguments that won't heal. I get up at 3AM, like clockwork, and can't stop worrying. I usually have to read or watch something funny to take my mind off things until I fall back asleep. Then morning comes.

I think conviction comes from how you feel when the daylight returns. I may wake up at three and not be able to fall back asleep at all, but when the sunlight hits the farm and the coffee pot starts to bubble on the stove, something changes gears inside me. There is work to be done and not on paper, but physical work to keep the place going. No matter what has haunted me the night before at first light the dogs need to go outside for a walk and relieve themselves. The horses are already whinnying for their morning hay. The sheep see me stir and run down to the gate, joining their baas and bleats into the heckling of the horses. The roosters crow, the chickens strut and coo, and the dairy goats start to stand up on their metal fence rolling their heads around in cries for grain. The pig in the barn snorts and while I can’ see or hear them, I know the rabbits in their cages have empty water bottles and are waiting like monks in meditation for more pellets. It is a circus and a symphony and it does not allow self-pity or concern about anything that isn’t happening right now to make 50 animals content.

With a mug of coffee in my hand and Gibson at my side the day is new and work is my new mantra. I carry hay and feed bags. I dump buckets of clean well water into troughs. Within fifteen minutes the cacophony of desire is quenched and you do not hear a sound outside of chewing cud and the occasional chicken’s cluck. Peace is restored through focus and action. It’s the same recipe my fear needs. If I let my head will with the cries of panicked animals I will go insane, collapse into the farm’s wontedness. But if I act, one task at a time everything falls into place. The electric bill is paid; trash is picked up on time, and the bank who share my truck and house get appeased for another four weeks. All of it can be done; it just requires a head down with ears back, facing into the wind like a fox having to cross a windy hillside. You feel exposed, scared, but you do it because you have to. The alternative isn’t an alternative at all. Because not making those bills means I cannot stay here. I’ve already made up my mind that I will stay here, and my faith in the entire wheel of the year, the holiness, the work and this farm are what keep it possible.

It takes a stroke of luck, faith, and magic to keep this place running. I subscribe to all three and believe none exist without the other. It is my faith that lets me truly believe that magic can happen, and that magic stirs the luck that keeps horses running uphill and lambs appearing on cold nights. It isn’t for everyone, but it is available to anyone, and I hope my life here—if it does nothing else—shares that possibility with people.

Possibility is all we need. It saves people.


Blogger Sylvia said...

After my brother was killed, I woke every night at 3 AM to worry about my remaining siblings, my parents who were incessantly fighting over whose fault it was, my crumbling marriage, my inability to manage my children, my excessive drinking to make me sleep through the night, YOU NAME IT, I worried about it.
One day in Sunday School, a man I could barely tolerate was telling someone else how to deal with 3 AM crazies.
He said you name whatever it is worrying you at the moment as a blessing. Claim it, no matter what it is.
Then start listing off your other blessings. You will go back to sleep.
Since that day 15 years ago, I have used his trick more times than I want to count. I still wake up at 3 AM but I ordinarily go right back to sleep when I start my blessings.
Serenity and Peace to you, dear Jenna.

September 14, 2012 at 7:36 AM  
Blogger Karen Rickers said...

Sending you all luck, faith and magic. Work is a wonderful antidote to worry, as you say. Great post!

September 14, 2012 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

Love Sylvia's story and solution. We can't control everything, try as we might. Intention is everything and it makes the difference between just muddling along and really LIVING.
Peace be yours, farmer.

September 14, 2012 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Megan, Rudy's mom said...

I was like this last week but it was at 2am getting up to check on my dog. My dog who's the love of my life was prediagnosed with bone cancer, we were told to retire her from being a therapy dog, and to seek other tests. For a week we were limbo important parts of my life were taken away in a matter hours. I was mentally and physically tired all week dreading the final diagnosis. All week I had this nervous energy that all I did was work myself tired and work very hard to not let my mind wander to bad thoughts, who was that going help? We got the news on Tuesday, she dying of bone cancer yeah it sucks but now there's a plan of action. People are worried about my state of mind but like your post we HAVE to tend to the animals first and deal with our human problems later. I'm finding though the people who are worrying about us when we're like this are not hard core animal people. They don't get the intensity or responsibility we put upon our selfs to rear them in our way. Hopefully magic will keep her going to christmas.
When the 3am monsters come go get your Gibson!

September 14, 2012 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

This is true for so much of life. Whether we live on a farm in the country or a house in suburbia, we all face those 3ams awake and fearful of how to manage to do what we need to do to get by. And every single one of us faces the same choice every day .. let the fear rule us, leaving us frozen in indecision (which is itself, of course, a decision), or just get on with it, one step at a time until suddenly we're on the other side of that day and the world keeps on turning.

Well done, Jenna.

September 14, 2012 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Manda said...

Keep your head up, Friend! Remember it is the roughest times that matter most, for under the stress and pressure comes the most beautiful glass, no? :)

September 14, 2012 at 10:51 AM  
Anonymous iacow said...

Awesome advice Sylvia! Thanks.

September 14, 2012 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Woman Seeking Center said...

Jenna since I began my journey, since I was led to this farm I've always held close the belief that such 3am panics are the litmus test of both the dream and the dreamer. It strikes me as ironic that 'dreamers' are thought of as flighty and unable to maintain discipline when in fact you can be neither if you choose to seek and ultimately follow your dream, your inner truth.

Those 1am, 2am, 3am arrows piercing your soul sound for bottom, just like a Mississippi river boat depth weight. Testing for the bottom and the edges of your resources - mental emotional and spiritual. You learn (oh how you learn) about yourself, how deeply you are willing to dig, to do without, to make happen with your own two hands, recycled materials, (and yes alongside luck and magic).

You discover exactly how clever you are or are not - and then set your sights upon learning if/where you find shallow water. Dreams have no limits in scope and dreams have no limit in responsibility. Dreamers who succeed possess or discover or learn how to kick ass and take names lol to achieve whatever is needed.

And that is what (for me) the morning light and coffee bring. The essence of confidence, of self trust. The details may elude for a time but the 'certainty of soul' the ability to rely on your own skill, cleverness and refusal to fail - to 'know you will find a way' arrives with the sun. Sometimes after a nite of weeping or howling at the moon - but with morning it arrives.

The broken hearts, tattered relationships, pieces that never fit quite right again (even when forced with a hammer)are painful. I've walked that path also and have reluctantly arrived at the conclusion some wounds can do no better than granulate, leaving gaping irregular scars. Scars we can wrap in leather and cloth to hide from the world and ourselves. Or we can choose to leave those scars bare to the world as markers of our life journey, signposts of the past we wove. A portion of who we were, are, will be -yet they only define as much of who we are as we allow them to, over time.

Dream on, work on. And when the next
3am comes calling and its panic 'sounds for depth' it will find no bottom to your strength and resolve because you are one of the true dreamers.

Issy Faye

September 14, 2012 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

So true and beautifully written.

Something I wrote back in June, a couple weeks after I began life at my new homestead:

"On one hand, it can be tough out here...not having a paid income, living without a "brick and mortar" home, not knowing where I'll stay in the winter. I can't just turn on an episode of Parks and Rec or even call my family when I'm feeling sad or lonely. We have real worries like drought and water conservation. On the other hand, there's such a raw simple beauty to this life. We're far away in a cozy mountain pocket from a lot of the bullshit of the modern world. I know that I can make dinner by filling a bucket in the garden. Without HDTV we're forced to confront and discuss issues that come up in the community. But the fireflies and the stars always show up at night. The birds chirp and the sun rises each morning. For now I can survive just fine with the truth in that.

September 14, 2012 at 12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful entry, both in words and in spirit. You have wisdom for one so young.

(The farm's wontedness? What the heck? That's a word I'll have to look up!)


September 14, 2012 at 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The quality or state of being accustomed" - wontedness

There you go, I thought it was not really a word! I'll have to go back and reread the entry to see if it makes sense, if so, hats off to you, you have a better vocabulary than I do!


September 14, 2012 at 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Not sure it makes sense - but it could have and it sure made me think! I love language and how you use it, perhaps not strictly accurately but with some flights of fancy!)


September 14, 2012 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

wontedness: means the state of being used to something. The farm expects me to feed it twice a day (It wonts for twice daily feeding) I meant that if I let myself suffer from fear I would crumble under the farm's needs, aka it's wontedness

September 14, 2012 at 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Karen said...

I do the same thing, not every night, but sometimes. I will use Sylvia's advice from now on. Thank you!

September 14, 2012 at 7:32 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Beautiful post, Jenna. I was up at 4:30 this morning worrying about bills. Ugh! I hate that. I just got up, balanced my checkbooks, did some juggling and borrowing and wrote a few checks. Then went back to bed. Nothing else I could do then. I hope you find a solutiong that works for you.

And you have a pig? How come we haven't heard about a new pig?

September 14, 2012 at 9:04 PM  
Blogger Amy McPherson Sirk said...

I've been self employed most of my adult life. It's too early for you to see the pattern but as you keep records of your activities make sure to record when and if they bear fruit. Keep track of your professional contacts. Every business has a cycle of seasons and a predictable lag between shaking the trees and actually getting paid. Assume every project will cost more, take more time, and produce less income that you initially planned for. You can do this. I like to have contingency plans. For instance, what service can I cut back on if the cash flow doesn't cooperate, what can I live without in order to remain self employed? Building a business is not easy, so cut yourself some slack. Remember my mother's mantra, "so long as nothing is bleeding or on fire we're having a good day".

September 14, 2012 at 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Kamela said...

Thank you so much for this. After a very long day with an injured giat and vet skills gone awry, I really needed that glimmer of positivity. Thanks for letting this blog be a place for honesty and inspiration.

September 14, 2012 at 10:31 PM  
Blogger Oak Forest Cooperative said...

I don't see why you don't take on boarders.You live in a farmhouse,there must be plenty of room.Problem solved.How's that? GIII

September 15, 2012 at 3:31 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

boarding interns and roomates come with their own set of problems. I dont have insurance to cover interns working here, the business isn't at that level yet.If I did they would not share the house, since I'm a private person when it comes to my homelife. I have no problem writing about my life online, but my everyday personal life is mine.

And my life is so hectic and my house small. Unless a roommate is okay with 3AM rooster moans, dogs, cats, 5Am and evening chores, paying half the utilities, half the firewood chores and work, and restrictions on their own life - it would not work.Most roommates want an apartment, not a farm life. and most don't want to pay more money to work harder and have less freedom than they would have at their own place.

September 15, 2012 at 5:29 AM  
Blogger Indio said...

Did you drop out of Mother Earth fair? I saw a tweet by them yesterday that your rabbit and hen talk was being replaced.

September 15, 2012 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Nope, I didn't drop out! I will be there friday night and Saturday, all day. but my ride back leaves that morning and couldn't be changed. I offered to do it Saturday but it was booked solid so it was removed. Sorry guys, have to get back here by Sunday night to pick up the dogs and my ride works Monday morning.

September 15, 2012 at 9:13 AM  
Anonymous H said...

Bummer! Do you not have a vehicle to drive anymore?

September 15, 2012 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I still have a truck! it just isn't up to a 16-hour round trip now.

no pig till october, every october. this was written about an october day

September 15, 2012 at 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Heather Meyer Boothby said...

Stress is scary, I recently finished my undergrad work at 36, thought naievly I might slip into a decent paying job and then resume the life I had previously, but so far no go, I signed back up for graduate school, ugh more loans to put off the other loans, but hoping this will give me a specialty (Library Science) that will help me focus, which is something I have struggled with my entire life!! So every morning I wake up and have to tell myself to be positive because really its the only way it can all function. I have three children and the shockwaves of my stress are more than they can handle so I must negotiate in my mind every morning that the magic and perserverance will reign!! My husband is military and I have gone to A LOT of family team building seminars and the one word that always comes up is RESILIENCE!! Its important, if all else fails girl come on out to Iowa, you're welcome anytime!! Love your writing!!

September 15, 2012 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger redbird said...

Luck, faith, and magic…those things surely make life worth living—tough waiting for them sometimes, but those things always come through. Sunrise, coffee, and a good dog or two make their own magic for sure. Best wishes for you and CAF.

September 15, 2012 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger RamblinHome said...

My early morning, sleep killing, worry sessions can often be appeased with the reminder that I have perfect faith and perfect trust in the Universe. The Uni is a great manager that helps me work through my doubts, fears and worries in divine ways until there is nothing left to doubt, fear or worry about. This, at least, gets me through the night and on to another day. Thank you for sharing this with us, Jenna. It's good to know we're all in the same boat.

September 16, 2012 at 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

Jenna, even with the stress and struggle, I hope to build a similar life someday. I haven't read it yet (I will) but I believe I have a very serious case of Barnheart! Keep on, keeping on! I just adore your writing and all your hard work. You are an inspiration.

September 17, 2012 at 11:20 AM  

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