Monday, March 4, 2019

Spring Forward

Last night, sometime around 2AM, I was outside in a snows squall looking for a chicken with missing butt feathers. Friday had already chased off the fox/fisher that had chased the hen off her roost. I could hear her in the night. I could see the feathers in the snow. But even with my headlamp I was having trouble locating the bird. It turned out she wasn't on a bank of snow or the hay covered by the tarp - she was on the roof of my truck. I picked her up and brought her inside. I was so tired and knew a chased-hen wasn't going to calmly return to the place she was nearly ganked. I set her inside the dog crate and tried to go back to sleep. My brain wasn't having it.

I don't know what it is about those early morning hours of 2-4AM but my mind is running at a faster frame rate than logic. Things that seem so easy to overcome in daylight are terrifying. I started a full-flown panic attack. Worried that I won't be able to make it through another month. Worried that something bad will happen. Worried that every choice I made that lead to this farm was a foolish escape from reality or a prison sentence of loneliness and isolation. I couldn't fall asleep till around 3:45 and when I did it was from exhaustion, not peace.

When morning arrived the night terrors had passed. The sun was shining on a freshly snow-covered farm. Within moments of letting the dogs run outside to play I had coffee hot on the stove and was watching the six new laying hens in their brooder eat their feed, beside them some snap peas I started in a small planter. I baked a frittata with my hens eggs and enjoyed it thoroughly. With some sleep, food, coffee, and daylight everything felt so much better. The vitamin D, caffeine, chirps, seedlings... the fact that in a few days the clock strikes forward... I felt so much calmer. I was happy with my choices. I felt like I belonged.

But I realized I need to burn more energy during the day. I need to fall asleep already too tired even fight back against the adrenaline of panic. So today I started running again, a modest 5k. After that I made sure to hike on the mountain with the dogs. Together I managed to move 5 miles across the landscape, in the cold, with this body. By 5PM I was showered and took a 45 minute nap and woke up feeling so much better. I need to burn off this anxiety. Being outside does that. And without the work of gardens, lambs, piglets, goat kids, etc right now I need to create time outside. So I did. I am glad I did.

I am springing forward, ahead of the clocks. I am raising some new hens while protecting others in the night. I am planting seeds, running roads, hiking at sunset, and resting my body more. There's a good chance I'll wake up doubting and afraid again. That's okay. That's part of this experience. But the truth isn't fear in the night. The truth is how you feel with the certainty of morning.So here's to hopefully finding another light in the dark, for all of us.