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Lessons Learned At The Farm

It's a funny thing - the twists and turns that life brings along. Expectations, dreams, plans...each can be changed with the choices we make each day. "Destiny" is carved out with seemingly insignificant daily decisions that ultimately lead to beauty or struggle. In high school, I would never have been voted "most likely to be a farmer's wife". In fact, before I married, I told my soon-to-be husband, Daron, "I will go anywhere just as long as Walmart isn't a day trip. None of this 'getting dressed up to go to town' stuff!" Like the slow boiling of an unsuspecting frog, I find myself 14 years into marriage, living on 40 rolling acres, 45 minutes from the nearest big "town", and doing my grocery shopping 2 weeks at a time.

I have often referred to myself as a city girl in an attempt to hold desperately to the roots of what I thought made me who I am. Over the years of country living, however, I have seen more and more notches being added to my farm girl belt. There was the demise of a groundhog; and the triumph over a 5 foot snake; wrestling a calf in my high heeled dress boots during our Church's live nativity; trimming back a pine tree with a hatchet and hand saw (only to later discover we own a chainsaw); chasing and catching a chicken; and the list goes on. For a girl who was raised in the concrete jungle-heart of downtown Cincinnati, these experiences not only pushed me outside of my comfort zone, they began challenging the labels I had accepted about myself. Not that a "new" me was being created; rather, the "who I am" was being chiseled out with every choice I made to stretch, discover, and achieve. Perhaps my city girl card was officially lost the day I found myself speaking gently to one of our Red Devon cows, Molly, who was in full-blown labor. She had been struggling for a couple of hours already and Daron, who is a large animal veterinarian, was at another farm unable to get home. He asked if I felt comfortable assisting her, to which I replied incredulously, "Do we have any gloves?!" The more I watched, the more my mama-instinct overrode the icky-worries. I climbed over the gate, petted her soft hide as she laid in the straw, and reached in to find the calf. As the wet warmth surrounded my bare hands and the calf responded with a reassuring nudge, a part of me came alive. I believe it is in moments just like those, that Destiny is shaped. I could have stayed with what was comfortable and waited for one of Daron's colleagues to show up. Instead, I chose to try. Ultimately, it was a large calf that needed the help of a veterinarian. I was able to assist, though, and as the 90-pound bull calf slipped into his new home, an empowering sense of accomplishment enveloped me.

Holding tightly to my city girl card was not keeping me tied to myself; rather, it was the grasping of an old ideal. I will always have a fondness for my roots and the city in which I grew up. Conversely, I have discovered that - in embracing the notches of country life that are a part of my world now - I have settled into a new understanding. I haven't lost me. I have deepened me. I have moved past the striving, to acceptance, and on into thriving.... Into the peace that comes with failing well, being vulnerable, and challenging self.

Molly and her bull calf, Brewster.

My little farm has taught me much. But of all the lessons it has taught me, there is one that I treasure most. That expectations, dreams and plans are dependent on making the choice to reach for them. I could have stayed floundering in the what-ifs of long-awaited expectations and unrealized hopes. But by reaching out for the new gifts presented in the form of everyday life and routine, I discovered a different beauty... contentment. A new dream even better than the first. And, as I have embraced it, I have also embraced new truths about me. I can bring my city roots and plant them in this adventure of country life. I can allow them to inform me, yet not define me. Because chafing at change only lessens the blessings. The adventure is in allowing the twists and turns to mature me, to give me a new vision, to shape the character within me. And with that choice comes redemption, growth, grace, and beauty.

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