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Lilipoh Magazine, Spring 2013; Christa Hein interview

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

Saying Goodbye to a Friend
by Christa Hein 

I’m a farmer.  That reality is alive in my every day as I put on my coveralls and sludge through the mud or snow.  Even if I’d rather sleep in or work in my pajamas – I can’t.  I’m responsible for a whole bunch of feathery and fuzzy critters.  And that involves a whole lot of me.  It means I’m a farmer even when I don’t want to be.

But sometimes I don’t feel like a farmer.  Like when a turkey dies and I want to share that sad fact with the world.  But I don’t.

Because I’m a farmer.

I’m still learning about my own farmer stereotypes.  One of those is that farmers just take death as it comes.  We’re supposed to right?  I mean I started with 8 turkeys in spring and sent 5 to their untimely deaths.  (One was the casualty of our dog who has also been learning how to be a farmer this year.)

I’m raising animals for food – death is a solid fact of that equation.  I’ve manned-up and accepted certain parts of that, reflecting and honoring as I go so that the life lessons aren’t lost on me along the way.

But last weekend I stumbled into a new experience – the death of a farm animal I had made my friend.

You may have heard about Shirley in my Thanksgiving musings.  Or maybe you saw the picture of her first egg that I posted on facebook. (I was proud like a grandma!)

Shirley was one of the two turkeys we saved from the knife so that she could become a part of our permanent herd. She was the one I knew I was keeping from the time she was young. She greeted me each day and I celebrated with her when she started her first clutch of eggs.

When she died suddenly last weekend I wasn’t sure what to do. So I went to get my husband Chris.

Chris couldn’t do anything that I couldn’t. But I needed someone else to see her, to experience the sight of her laying there feet up. I needed to share this experience with someone.

Since I had just, a week before, posted a picture of her first egg on facebook, I expected myself to post about her death. I got close. I even wrote the post. But I couldn’t publish.

What would people say? Condolences on your dead turkey. It didn’t make sense. I didn’t want to put people there – in that awkward situation of wanting to acknowledge the post, but not sure what to say about a dead animal who is usually dinner.

At that moment, I realized that being a farmer is a lot more complex than I appreciated. There are things we aren’t expected to feel. And if we feel them, we risk making people uncomfortable.

I mean, I’m shedding no tears over the chicken that’s thawing in my refrigerator for tonight’s dinner. I won’t ask for condolences as I enjoy my chicken and rice.So why Shirley? Am I less of a farmer for feeling something for her?

I think not. As emotional and feeling beings, we’re meant to feel something. That’s why so many of us give thanks before a meal – to acknowledge the fact that we’re consuming life.

When we make the conscious decision to let an animal into our life – when it ceases to be dinner and starts to be family – something changes inside us. We allow ourselves to connect at a deeper level.

I had done that with Shirley. I’ve also connected with our chickens Miracle and Owl – but not most of the rest. As with friends, there are just some spirits that touch us more than others.

And so as I say goodbye to my friend Shirley, I realize that even though my response to her passing may not be stereotypical of a farmer, I’m guessing it’s pretty common.

There are so many of us – and we each react to death a different way. I’ve realized that by sharing my loss, I’m becoming the farmer that I’m meant to be.

One thing is for certain; this daily walk among life and death is making me a better human. And by pausing to acknowledge the passing lives, I become a better farmer.

And though I won’t mourn the chicken as I sit down at my table tonight, I’ll give thanks for the life it left behind to become my dinner. I can eat and love at the same time.

And a magic new year…

Sunrise on the hazy pasture

On a bitterly cold morning at the start of the new year, there was an hour that took my breath away.

Ice crystals had formed on every surface.

The sunrise was casting a glow through a thick haze, bouncing the spectrum of the rising sun through millions of delicate shining reflections.

The fences were brilliant and radiant.  I was mesmerized.

I couldn’t stop photographing them from different angles.

 

Ice crystals on fence wire

The changing light, fading in and out, made them all the more magical, showing different characters and moods to the crystal reflections.

It was as if the whole world were crystallized.

My intention of hurrying through chores to get back to the warm house was dissolved in the experience as I lingered for over an hour, holding my face up to the windy sun and feeling gratitude for the morning, the day, the new year.

Ice crystals on fence

All around, discoveries of the mundane made me feel alive in the newness.  While nothing physical had changed, apart from the ice, my surroundings were different this morning.

Each step of chores became a slower and more conscious action, noting the details and beauty in the things I had come to expect to see every day.

The bird nest that had been in the apple tree since spring was now framed in snow and ice.  The very branches of the tree created a spiny fortress of reverence around it.

The water pump held jagged gems on its red metal that dissolved into nothingness as my hand lifted the handle and the warmer water ran through the pipe.

Off in the distance, the sun was rising.  But the heavy haze sat low on the ground, obscuring the neighboring farmers, holding me in a veil of private reverence.

As the minutes passed and the sun rose higher, I looked around in all directions, marveling at the modest temple that was my home.  The earth itself was glowing, casting spectacular light that was penetrating deeper than my eyes.

It was touching my soul, that space where breath goes in and out in silent worship.

The promise of a new year was alive in a gift from the elements.

What other unexpected treasures would alight in my life?  What magic was waiting to be discovered in the routine of my days?

The morning stayed with me, returning in my mind as I sat in meditative silence later that afternoon in my office.  As the sun set across the field, the same awe, inspiration and gratitude wiped over me.

How easily it would be to ignore the beauty and rush through life with my head down, braced against the wind and cold.  I know because I’ve been there too often.

On this day of magic, at the start of this new year, I was reminded that no matter how cold, or lonely, or scared I feel, there are always unexpected gifts of beauty to renew me.

I have the choice to lift my face up and experience the day at my core, allowing the sun or rain or wind to reach in and fill me with the magic of nature.  Even in the windy cold tundra that is sometimes my home, beauty is always within reach.

And sometimes when we least expect it, we are caught breathless in the magic of the moment.

At the start of this new year I feel indomitable hope and excitement!  I wish the same for you!

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts, reflections and hopes for the new year!  Please comment below.

Let’s Talk Turkey!

Let’s Talk Turkey!Turkey poults, chicks and ducklings

OK, I’ll just jump right in.  It was the day of reckoning for the turkeys last week.

To give you a little bit of background, I’m a self-proclaimed persnickety meat eater.  I was a vegetarian for 14 years.  When I was pregnant, I started to eat wild game.  That tempted me into trying locally–grown meat from a small farm.  I want to know where my meat comes from and ideally, know the animal myself.  So this year, I became a farmer.

When we decided to raise turkeys this spring, I wondered how I’d feel about …you know… knocking them off.

‘Cause it turned out that turkeys are a whole lot cuter than I thought they’d be!   I mean, they followed us around like puppies!  If we walked out, they came gobbling and waddling, running across the yard to see what we were doing.  If we were working on something, they were surely underfoot.  They were a pecking pack of turkey-puppies.

They went with me to Bring the Farm to You events, so I had that rare experience of lifting and holding a turkey often, which becomes quite challenging – and a sport really, once they get big.  Carrying them around made very clear how fast my little buddies were growing (and how I need strength training for this job!).

Shirley got to stay home on the day of reckoning.  I knew I was keeping her.  She went to an early event with me and had her wings clipped.  After that she was my buddy and I talked to her and made sure the boys let her eat.  (That’s her in the picture, seductively walking in front of the strutting boys and being quite the tease!)

Since I was keeping Shirley, I had to find her a fine-looking mate.  We picked out her tom on the day before the day of reckoning, because he strutted so proudly and had such handsome feathers!  And they were sticking close to each other so I thought they might like each other.  (I think that’s Tom to the left of Shirley in the picture – he has almost perfect tail feathers.)

The others, 4 toms and one hen, were headed to the Thanksgiving tables of our families and neighbors.  We fed them a light last meal in the back of the pick-up truck.  Food was the way to go with these guys – they’d do anything for food.

They had become voracious eaters!  I was feeding them huge scoops both morning and night, going through almost 75 pounds of food a week.  When I came out with their scoop, they strutted and belly bumped each other out of the way, chirping and clucking, trying to get to the food first.  And after a while, they calmed and pecked and peeped.

These turkeys were not supposed to fly.  Period.  They didn’t stop flying until about a month before D-day.  They were starting to try my patience.  Sitting and pooping on the picnic table is not allowed!

And the sheer enormity of their poop!  I mean really, their poop is huge.  They’d hop over the fence and come hang out and poop on my back porch and steal cat food – and knock over things, the poor clumsy fellows.   I was starting to accept their demise with a hint of a smile.  I think it’s all a part of nature’s way of making us feel better about slicing the knife.

But poop and all, I still liked them.  Despite my talking constantly about how yummy they’d be and trying to imagine them stuffed and steaming, I still really fell for those guys.

So on the day before the day of reckoning, I fed them an extra large breakfast and the last of the fermented apples from cidering.  I hear wine and bread make a fine last meal.

And I watched them, all breathless from greedily gulping down as much as they could inhale.  I walked around and petted a couple.  And then I did what I wanted to do – think about it.

IT – that thing that we want to deny or forget when we buy a wrapped package of flesh.  These guys were going to die because I wanted to eat them.

So as I inhaled, I said thank you – for their bodies, for their curious spirits, for they joy they brought me.  And as I exhaled, I honored them, bowing for their sacrifice (conscious or not, willing or not) and gave them my well wishes on their journeys.

They were going to an Amish family for butcher.  This family would take care of them and not treat them wrongly.  I felt comfortable and grateful to have them do this deed for us.

Pulling the truck into the turkey yard, we opened the tailgate and put their bowl into the back of the pick-up.  Chris had to lift the first big boy up, but once he was up, all the others jumped in.  We closed the tail gate and watched them.  They seemed unstressed and more concerned about the food than their surroundings.

We gave them a couple minutes with the bowl and then took it out.  Fowl aren’t supposed to eat before slaughter so that they are easier to clean.  But I don’t always follow the rules exactly.  So we let them have a light last meal and put them to bed.

The next morning, Chris was up at 5:30 getting ready to take them the hour and a half drive before his then 2 hour drive to work.  I swear I have the best husband and partner ever!

When I came back from that weekend in Cleveland visiting my parents, the turkeys were all tucked neatly into the freezers, looking succulent and HUGE!

(New farmer mistake – my turkeys are obese.  Two weighed in around 25 pounds and the others around 33.  Gonna have to be a big oven to cook these babies!)

So no drama and the turkeys were in the freezer.  I patted myself on the back for being such a big girl about it.

I did what I had wanted to do – enjoy raising them, know my meat was happy and healthy, and thank and honor them for contributing to my well being.

And now I’m excited as hell to take one of the big guys down to my sister’s in South Carolina for Thanksgiving, hold up a drumstick and give thanks!  I haven’t had turkey for Thanksgiving in 21 years.  This will be a meal to remember!

Please comment below and share the ways you like to give gratitude for a meal.  I’d love to hear how you think about, acknowledge and honor your food!

A Year Changes Everything

A Year Changes Everything

by Christa Hein

Last year at this time I was a mess.

It doesn’t do me any good to rose color the past, so I’ll just call it as it was, a messy transition full of indecision, confusion and emotions.

I had been working at the Stratford Ecological Center for 15 years, doing a job I enjoyed.   But something was no longer working for me.  I had released too many of the responsibilities I loved.  And like any family of friends, the dynamics had changed.  I felt like an outsider in a place that had been my home – my heart had moved on.

I imagine that people who fall in love with someone other than their partner feel the same type of emotions I was feeling.  I was falling in love with the idea of working for myself, but reluctant to give up everything I had known – the job, the people, the partnerships, the predictability.

But when you’re in that type of messy transition, the one thing that can’t happen is for things to stand still.  And so I took the first step and talked about my feelings with those around me.  I shared my dreams and my hope to both stay and go.

In the end though, I realized I had to go.  My dreams were too big for part-time.  To really give this idea that was bubbling around inside of me the chance it deserved, I needed to jump full time into the great unknown, giving all my thoughts and my full heart to this new lover.

And so I turned in my letter, jumped for joy, and cried.

And then I began.  Serendipity brought me a web designer who I knew and admired.  We started during Christmas break, spending several weeks full of constant communication, designs, writing and revisions.

I sat for the first time in my new office, a beautiful space built atop our music room, the old milk house that had needed a new roof.  Without foresight of the business, I had suggested that instead of simply replacing the roof, that we create another room above the existing block building to be used for storage, guests and play.  As my heart started to ache for change, it became apparent that this yet unfinished room was meant to be my office.

As I sat looking out over the farm and wrote the words for the website, the business came into place.  Classes took shape and my message was formed.  Through writing, I was learning about myself and my abilities, realizing the depth I had to offer the world.

Alice, my web gal, turned me on to a designer, Becky.  With just a few instructions, Becky gave me a logo that turned my stomach into jello.  You know that feeling when you see someone or something that lights your heart on fire.  That’s how I felt.  I wanted a touch of vintage with old time farming, mixed with fun and play – yet professional and adult.  It represented what I imagined for the business beautifully!  With a few more instructions, Becky created a banner.  I was on my way, official and looking good!

As I envisioned the programs, I began to make purchases for things I’d need.  My Oma, (my German grandmother on my father’s side) had given me the gift of inheritance.  With money from the sale of the home where she gardened, canned, kept bees, made cheese, sauerkraut and donuts, I began to build Bring the Farm to You.


We bought a small barn off of craigslist, carted home at 8 mph on the back of a wagon driven by generous strangers.  We contracted a pasture fence and my husband built a new chicken house.  The old chicken house was moved to the pasture for turkeys.

We found an outdated new trailer and had windows installed.  Becky created a postcard for marketing and Alice set up an online mailing list service.

My first programs came through people who knew me – a felting class, chick hatching program, beekeeping, and Your Growing Classroom.  Each program booking pushed me to detail – supply lists, evaluations, outlines, purchases.  Week by week, the programs on my website were coming to life, boxes full of equipment taking over our old music room, kicking the instruments to the house to make room for a business.

As I strategized and learned to dream big, the potential kept growing.  Mentored by a motivating business coach, I marketed and planned.  I took classes at the Small Business Development center, networked, and met with potential clients.

My first public event, the Leave No Child Inside Collaborative, took place at a community center.  I brought along young ducks and baby chicks, along with my spinning wheel, and a table full of program supplies.  That day I earned an award while gaining my confidence that I could do this!  I was photographed for a picture that ran the next day in the Columbus Dispatch.  And I booked my first public client.  I was in business.

Once spring began, the calls were flowing steadily as I figured out my systems – reservations, my new email server, facebook updates, insurance, and all the ins and outs of running a business.  My proposal to teach four classes at Ohio Wesleyan University’s summer camp for honors middle school kids (called OWjL) was approved and unleashed the motivation to write and outfit four new week-long curriculums involving animals, cheese-making, maple sugaring, cidering, and a whole lot more.  I was traveling to teach chick hatching, organic gardening, beekeeping, and farm animal programs.  I was a whirlwind.

Within the swirl of creating the business and curriculum, I was also learning how to become a farmer.  Despite having kept bees for over a decade and raising chickens off and on, I had only helped farm as I taught people about agriculture.  Now I was getting a chance to do it day in and day out.  And I loved it!

Sable was the first furry animal to arrive.  He’s an angora boy bunny that is the softest and sweetest thing you’ve ever touched!  Turkeys joined us soon after, as did a second bunny, Fawn, picked out by my daughter as her own pet.

And then came the goats – the feeling of young motherhood appearing back in my life.  Starla and Charlotte were bottle babies.  They both lost their mothers to accidental poisonings of a herd through a mistaken feeding of yew plant.  They were 6 weeks old when they joined us and cried so much that first cool night that my daughter Sequoia and I grabbed our blankets and hats and slept in the barn with them on the hay.  We bottle fed them for over 2 months, watching them grow and become more interested in food than their bottles, but no less interested in getting rubbed by us.

Right around weaning, we brought home two Shetland lambs, skittish and jumpy.  They definitely weren’t bottle babies, but after watching the goats run to us for several days, they started to greet us too – and eventually let us sneak in a petting.

My dad built wooden cages and my husband Chris build portable panels for a pen.  We retrofitted our trailer to haul them all and we were on our way to our first Large Farm Animal Events.

We appeared in Edible Columbus magazine and I was asked to write an article for Lilipoh magazine.  I hired a summer intern to help with marketing and a virtual assistant to do bookkeeping.  I lined up a CPA and a photographer.  I started saying “we” in marketing materials because although I was a solo business owner, I was by no means doing this alone.

In July, I went to Atlanta for my second coaching event, spending 3 days with other purposeful entrepreneurs.  I came back inspired at the sheer potential alive in me and possible through this business!

We added another sheep and bunny, harvested spring meat chickens and roosters, and built a new brooder for all the chicks coming through the hatching program.

In August, my husband Chris and daughter Sequoia joined me in bringing animals to an event at Whole Foods Market.   Together, the three of us stopped most everyone, talking and encouraging them to touch chicks, rabbits and goats on their way in or out.  That day was just what I had wanted when I envisioned the business – full of lots of people, lively talking, excited children, cared-for animals, and my family.  It felt like by serving such a well-known client, that we were stepping over a threshold.

And it appears we were.  In September, we had a full-page spread in Columbus Parent Magazine.  And this week, we are appearing on Fox 28’s news show Good Day Columbus!

With 300 postcards sent out within the last month, reservations are steadily coming in.  We’re booked for farm animal events this fall and during the holidays, with schools already on the calendar for next spring.  We just began a 9-month garden program to consult on the installation and after-school education for a community garden at a low-income housing development.  It’s exciting to think about all the people we’ll meet and impact this next year!

Our trailer now acts as our billboard as we travel, graphically enhanced with our logo on a beautiful design.  The road is wide and open and I’m sure we are going great places.

A year ago at this time I was a mess.  But I followed my heart.  I took one step at a time, even though sometimes I couldn’t see the next few steps ahead.  But when you want something, there isn’t the choice of standing still.

And so I sit with my new lover, this business called Bring the Farm to You.  I envision the future and dream of what it will look like a year from now.  And I take the next small step on my journey by looking back and seeing how far I’ve come.  I step with gratitude into my new year.

The Garden Waits for No Man…or Woman

This year has been more unique than most unique years.  And not just in regards to the weather, although the early spring has played with my emotions, infusing me with a special kind of gardener’s guilt for not being in the garden before it is my usual time to be in the garden.  The uniqueness of my year stems from the fact that I am now a proud entrepreneur of an exciting business called Bring the Farm to You.  Being about farming, one would think that my business days would be spent in the garden and otherwise around the land.  But the nuances of setting up the structure of curriculum, marketing, finances, insurance, etc. have not been so giving of my time.  And sadly, the garden has been neglected.

In a usual unique year, the garden might be patiently waiting for me.  But the early spring gave a jump to the plants who have celebrated with a romp throughout my garden beds.  Some of them have taken such a liking to the space that they give one the impression they might just move in for good.  And the neighbors probably think all kinds of sad and interesting things, wondering what happened to the usually beautiful space on the top of Moody Rd. and the girl who usually tends it.  The brick walkway is lush with volunteer chamomile, an old scarecrow, missing his head, waves a tattered shirt in the wind, and strawberry plants hide deep below chickweed and thistle.  It looks like that garden at the spooky old house in my daughter’s detective books.

Well my friends, the garden waits for no man…or in my case, no woman.  To some this infusion of wildness is daunting, but to me, it only solidifies my determination!  As I look out on the ragged and rangey garden from my office perch, I know what I must do – plan!  My virgo temperament will have it no other way. 

A map, a checklist, and a schedule will surely transform my perception, altering my vision as if through rose colored glasses.  Piecing up that space into manageable sections – Sequoia’s sandbox garden, the place where the bench will sit, rows and squares and circles laid out in pretty patterns and labeled with the names of things I like to eat and love to grow – that’s what makes it feel doable, and inspires my determined labor.  I can brave my spooky old garden on Moody Rd and I can certainly find time to weed that first 5×5 area before dinner!  And that will motivate me to tame the next section and the next until my garden retreat has returned and the weeds have packed their bags for the compost pile.

With a garden plan in hand, come hell or high water, I will have tomatoes this year!  It may not be until September, as it appears that the greenhouse also waits for no man….or woman…

Growing and Going…

The chicks and ducklings are growing!  And I mean really growing.  The Cornish Cross are almost fully feathered – and are pushing around their big meaty chests at whoever dares to look at them.  The Barred Rock, still small, cute and fuzzy, are testing out their little wings and flying over each other’s heads and making the fat Crosses jealous.  The ducks are towering over them all, at least twice the Cross’ height and visibly growing between morning and night. 

In last week’s summer-like weather, I set up an outside pen for the ducks using my daughter’s old baby pen.  I filled up a plastic cement-mixing tub with water and set them inside.  They quickly pooped in the water (of course!) and then proceeded instinctually to duck under the water, preen and attempt to swim (though it was too shallow).  For hours each day I’d leave them outside, once bringing the whole flock of birds out with them – an act that seemed comforting to them, despite the crowded conditions.

Today it’s way too cold and they are all huddling under their heat lamp as our near freezing winds blow.  Their permanent house is almost done – the roof is on and we are just waiting for our special order of barn-red ridge caps and edges to seal out the weather.  The door and windows need installed and their snazzy new (thanks to another craigslist find!) nesting boxes need hung – and then they are ready to move in!

The new project this week is getting ready for my first angora rabbit.  He’s a beautiful brown male, just weaned and waiting for us to pick up.  We’ve wavered between housing options – the ideal 2-story hutch condo – or the regular old wire cage with some tweaks.  Chris is building it so we want it to be realistic and practical, but roomy and comfortable for our new guy.  And since he’ll grow to be upwards of 10 pounds – with a lot of hair on top of that – it needs to be big!  My daughter Sequoia has been comparing mini’s (Mini Rex, Mini Lop and Hotot) for her bunny companion.  Her mini will be a quaint contrast to my big boy! 

This Saturday begins the first of 3 events coming up for Bring the Farm to You and our little family of critters!  Starting small, I’ll be at the March 31st Play Date Columbus.  The chicks and ducks will be overwhelmed by love I’m sure, but it should be a gentle warm-up to the wide world of public events for them.  On April 3rd, I’ll be an exhibitor at the fairgrounds for the PTO Today Expo, meeting PTO reps from around the state.  I’m counting on our furry and feathery friends to win over the hearts of those dedicated moms and dads, making them want Bring the Farm to You and those cute critters to come to their schools!  And then on Saturday, April 21, we’ll be at Earth Day Columbus, an event at the downtown Commons that will bring through 12-20,000 people!  The chicks and ducks will become superstars for sure!  Growing and going…

Why I Love Imperfect Action

Though I try, I am never perfect. Sometimes, in my quest for perfection, I wait…and wait and wait…and never act.

An important lesson came to me late last year as I was deciding whether or not to leave my job and follow this dream of entreprenuership. I discovered this amazing business coach named Christine Kane, who teaches specifically to women entreprenuers who work with a purpose. (She calls herself “Mentor to Women Who are Changing the World” – how could I resist?!)

In one of the first emails I received from Christine, she talked about doing things imperfectly – of not waiting for perfection to happen before acting, but acting anyways, imperfectly.

This was a lesson I was meant to hear, because too often I was waiting to know more, or do more, before I’d let myself do what I really wanted to do – which was to start my own business. I realized I would never be “there” unless I started “here,” in my place of imperfection.

Each imperfect action I take is one step closer to my goal. I haven’t yet died from a typo or grammatical error. I haven’t closed down my dream because I’m not there yet.

Every day I work on another goal. Though I have a list a mile long, I don’t let the fact that I’m not yet done stop me from starting, although sometimes that temptation is huge! In many cases, I don’t even know what I need to know to finish. But as I remember imperfect action, I do the first step anyways, knowing that action is the only way to proceed. And amazingly, once I set that intention, the information seems to show up.

Like the day I stopped in the bank to ask about a business account and the manager asked me if I had registered my business. Duh, what? I hadn’t yet learned that part. But the intention was out there and the universe brought me a banker who took the time out of her day to get on the Secretary of State website and help me begin the process. It’s all about starting! Each step leads to the next.

I mention all of this because I’ve often heard people stopping themselves from things they’ve always wanted to try – like gardening – because they didn’t feel like they knew enough yet. Just because you don’t know what to do about squash bugs shouldn’t stop you from planting squash! It just gives you an opportunity, should squash bugs decide to visit, to try out some imperfect action. Maybe you’ll try hand-picking them off. Maybe you’ll get some rotenone from the garden store at the suggestion of a neighbor. Maybe you’ll join a gardening club and meet some really great new friends. It all starts by planting that first seed.

Each action we take, whether imperfect or not, is one step closer to living the life we want to be living.

So at this start of the new year, I encourage you to go ahead and plan that garden, even if you’ve never started a seed in your life. Or begin that new hobby that you know nothing about. Or follow that dream that’s too big to tie down. Action, with all its imperfections, is the only thing that will ever move us forward into our “there.”

Gratitude

Gratitude

I am immersed in a feeling of gratitude.  So many different events, people, and scenarios have come together to allow me to step into this place of creation.  In a way, my whole life has led me to this place.  Those times I was sent out to the garden as a kid to gather scallions for dinner or pick cucumbers off their prickly vines have led me here.  So did the days that I spent up in our willow tree, discovering that climbing barefoot made me much more secure in my footing.   Those pensive looks at my Oma’s beehive, stepping ever so closer to observe, but not willing to give up the fear of their stings, were a part of this path, unclear at the time, but so formative.  My Oma and Opa’s giant garden in Cleveland – their immigrant home – now inner city hood, still holds my memory to those days in the yard growing our dinners.  Those inconsequential things that created what is now my dream hold me in a cradle of thankfulness.

And recently, the amazing experience of working the past 15 years at the Stratford Ecological Center – and the serendipity of my life that even allowed me to be eligible for such a position.  It feels like it has all led to this place, this space in time. 

My website woman, Alice, just happened to have resigned from her own non-profit position to step out on her own as a web designer – and a mutual colleague just happened to share her website at the time that I was about to give up my search and settle for a stranger.  Amazing!  It fills me up like a balloon full of gratitude.  The serendipity of my dear friend Trista sharing her own walk  in entrepreneurship with a mentor, Christine Kane, who teaches specifically to women entrepreneurs with a purpose.  My finding exactly what I needed, when I needed it, is beyond words really and more into the realm of guidance. 

All of my paths, inclinations and preferences have come from the root of this family that I was gifted to be born into.  It just blows me away.  A father who can never give enough of his time and skills to others.  A mother full of creativity and service - who has given her life over on more than 3 occasions to a dying friend.  A sister who, despite insurmountable health obstacles, follows the lessons of Cat Stevens that she inspired in me as a teen and keeps a positive thankful-for-what-I-can-do attitude.  How on earth did I ever earn such blessings?  It fills me to no end with gratitude.

How, after mourning the Native American culture so thoroughly as a teen, did I find a Native elder willing to invite my family into ceremony, living out an inconceivable dream?  My gratitude for this is indescribable.

I also think of the gratitude for those non-human things that have sustained me.  Those actual scallions and cucumbers.  The soil that was my teacher.  The willow tree that was a dear and cherished friend.  The deer that often graces my dinner plate.  Earth itself has been my path, my mentor, and my colleague. 

In all the paths that brought me to where I am today, there were both human and non-human.  As I step away from my position at the Stratford Ecological Center after 15 years, I speak to the place.  And I find solace.  The place doesn’t mourn my loss.  It gives me only good energy and not regret.  It knows it is my time to move on and wishes me well, knowing I am its sister, always.

And so it is as I step into this great unknown of Bring the Farm to You.  I feel its direction and know with clarity that this is my path.  I feel the energy of the Earth and the energy of my connections propelling me forward and I can’t help but to be swept up in a wave of gratitude.  For each and every soul that has shared a kind word, or a word that has allowed me to grow; for the energies that have moved through me like a current, bringing forth more than was ever contained within; for the blessed gift of my very existence in this time and place – I am grateful.

Thank you, whoever you are, for your own energy into this project, however small or large, whether known or unknown – it has been important.  It is with gratitude that I offer to you what has been given to me to share.

Aho!  Namaste!  And Amen to this prayer of gratitude.  Life is a blessing.  I am so full of gratitude to be given this path.  May it grow into something that creates more and more paths of thanksgiving.