Lessons in Farming: Duck poop is nicer than self-pity
Posted On October 28, 2016
Jeff hurt his hip mysteriously and has been laid up for the past day. He went to the doctor and it looks like it’s some kind of a strain. He’s resting for a few more days and we are hoping it won’t be a long recovery, but it’s one of those things you don’t want to screw up early on just to make life harder for longer. So, rest. Which, knowing Jeff, the whole ordeal is a bit torturous. I gave him my most serious eyebrows and told him that resting an injury like this is the most effective thing to do here, so don’t even think about… yeah. He’s accepting of things, for now. But for me that means things ramp up a bit. Less slack for me around the homestead, and I was already feeling a bit spread thin.
This morning I tended to the greens and sent off deliveries, mucked out the ducks and chickens and did all the farm chores, put food in the crock pot to simmer away all day, moved laundry through, delivered good food to family, shuttled and fed kids, walked the dog (x2), dishes, etc. It was cool and sunny and just generally perfect out. And yet, all freaking day I couldn’t quite get a handle on the dang self-pity. I even knew what was happening and tried to talk myself out of it. I knew I was single-handedly trying to sabotage my day. It went something like this: “Gross. Duck poop is so gross. Ew, it’s on my sweater now! Of course no one else is going to do this chore. It’s gotta be me! And I haven’t even eaten yet today. I need more coffee… Stop it! These ducks are lovely. This is exactly what you want. Be in service to the ducks! Choose this! Why aren’t you choosing this? This is exactly the kind of day you want. Stop screwing it up. But uggh I have to clean all this poop off of these eggs now. And wash this sweater. So much folding to do later. Geez I really need to get this chore on a schedule so it’s less disgusting. I’m not a very good farmer, or very organized. I don’t know how other people do it. Why am I even thinking about getting more animals?”
I have days like this. Days where I feel like I can’t quite get on top of my own negative self-talk. I took Flynn for his evening walk, which initially felt a burden, but then I was just out under the trees and sky and I softened and remembered that I’m probably just at my edge. This is where I grow, when I hurt and wrestle with myself. I need to forgive myself. Forgive the ducks. Forgive the dog. Forgive Jeff’s hip. Forgive those finicky microgreens that didn’t grow quite big enough in this cold to get to market tomorrow. Forgive the kid for whining about dinner. Forgive my lack of organization. Forgive my process and my lack of gratitude. I think, only after I let myself just be sloppy and shallow and whatever I am in that moment, then I’ll be able to rise above it. It’s not a conquering that needs to happen, it’s something different.
I got home and confessed to Jeff that I feel overwhelmed. I told him that I know this is the life we want but it holds a pressure and a relentlessness that doesn’t quite let up. I can’t just let it go and check out, and sometimes that scares me (this feeling brings me back to the early days with new babes). I know that this place and these small jobs are a promise for me. I can feel everything that we’ve been through making me something new. I’m being pulled to find quiet and gratitude wherever I am (even if it’s in mucking out a duck house). I think my job here won’t be in mastering a perfect internal landscape- that wouldn’t afford me any opportunity, not to mention I’ll fail. I think my real challenge will be in meeting my life every day and offering myself up in service- not just to the ducks, but to a better version of myself. I can try to let my imperfect mind just exist, and trust that this place and these creatures that I love will do their work on me. All in all I think it was a better day than I realized.