Friday, July 13, 2018

Heavy

The past ten years of my life have been about one thing: this farm. Since I started toying with the idea of farming in my early twenties different I have published five books related to homesteading and kept this blog going for three farms in three states - an entire decade of one woman's story. It's been a wild ride and has granted me a life I truly wake up every single day excited to experience.

Pursuing this dream, learning the skills, and finding a way to share that story with people that are interested in following along has been everything. The cream on top was making a humble living off it; which may always be the single biggest accomplishment of my life. I am lucky as hell, grateful as long roots, and you have no idea how much I want to remain a woman with a dog, a horse, a hawk, and very very local BLTs in her future.

But I think it's time to share what has been so heavy on my heart for these past few months. I am dealing with some hard transitions, and the main one is deciding if I can continue to live this life. If I should keep farming, keep blogging, keep fighting for something that has me so incredibly terrified right now...

Sleepless nights worrying about getting through another winter, what livestock to sell off and when, what kind of future I want to strive towards - this is what I am at war with right now.

Some nights I wake up after a few fitful hours of sleep and lay awake terrified or crying till I shake. These nights are happening more often and I don't know if I'm strong enough to keep meeting them. And it isn't even the anxiety - it's dealing with it alone.

I haven't had a single night off this farm in seven years. I haven't traveled, grown my career, or seriously dated either. I haven't had health insurance, financial security, or companionship outside of friends, pets, and livestock. Every shred of energy I have has gone into farming—and that is not a regret in any sense of the word—but I am not sure I can keep plowing this row.

Maybe it's because I just celebrated a birthday? It's hard not to compare yourself to peers your own age - what they have accomplished but more so how they feel about where they stand in life. Everyone else seems so firmly grounded. I feel firmly combative. Not argumentative - literally combative. Every single morning I wake up trying to figure out how to tackle the farm's most pressing needs and bills. It's like I've been punching every day for ten years and all I have managed is a nervous and precarious homeostasis. I just want to feel safe. I haven't felt safe in a very long time. I feel like life shouldn't be so scary at 36, that every month shouldn't be a struggle just to keep the lights on and bank from foreclosing. I am trying to decide if that fear is fuel to keep a dream going or the thing stopping me from moving my life forward. It's probably both.

Everything is a day at a time, right? I don't need to figure this out today, but if you knew how heavy my lungs feel writing this you'd understand my pacing concerns. In a few weeks it'll be August and I don't have a single cord stacked yet. Last winter was so horrific. Some nights I just think about dealing with that again alone and it feels like all of my heart fills up with black ink swirls. It's not depression. It's not that sort of despair - it's the dread of the exhaustion and work to fight ahead. It's thinking you're almost done with the race and realizing right before the finish line it was a mirage.

Maybe this is loneliness? I never felt it before like this if it is. Maybe it's just the tectonics of an average life shifting?  ll I know is I feel like I have been trying everything I can to keep juggling this dream and it isn't enough. The voices telling me to quit, go back to an office gig, stop writing, just go away, they are getting louder. Is it worth my sanity to keep up a life that people vociferously hate me for? People don't make hate blogs about silent web marketers. I bet they sleep all night just fine.

If you have advice or constructive feedback, please send it to me. If you have struggled with this on your own farm, or whatever your dream was and was ready to give up, please tell me what you did to help make that decision?

Update: This post is not me ending the blog or the farm. It is me asking for advice on fear. I have customers, animals, projects, and work well into the coming months. Right now I am trying to just pay the mortgage and keep ahead of any looming threats to house and homestead.

Update II: I am selling the sheep (the main flock of 6) and the goat herd. The reason is to scale back and use the money for paying the June mortgage. I plan on still raising lambs through the summer that I buy in but not breeding any for a while. Same with the goats - getting milk from fellow farmers and making soaps but not tending to the dairy needs. I am hoping to find good homes. Please email me if you are interested.