Learn As You Go
I am learning as I go. Moving from the city to a farm, there were quite a few things that I didn’t know how to do, nor was there ever a call to know. For instance, I never had a reason to know how to tube feed an invalid calf. I didn’t need to know how to drive a tractor, or keep it from running into the pond. I had no idea what a pair of fence pliers looked like, much less how to use them.
I am not embarrassed or ashamed for my lack of farm knowledge. Now that I am here, the farm itself has been the best professor. Randy frequently tells the kids, “If you aren’t learning something every day, you aren’t paying attention.” I believe that if you aren’t learning something every day, then you are losing out on the best part of life.
For me, Paradise Plantation is my classroom. I have learned so much from its tutelage. I now know more about chickens – from how to hatch them to how to properly care for all their needs. I have learned how to watch the signs for a new calf getting ready to see the earth for the first time to body conditioning scoring and when to rush to a neighbor for a shot of Epinephrine. I have learned more about grasses than I ever thought necessary, how to build a smokehouse and how to be thriftier than I ever thought I could be.
Some of the lessons I’ve learned have been a little more abstract. Like the fact that there is really no such thing as chores on a farm. There is a lot of labor involved, but instead of work and chores, they are labors of love.
I have learned that people who turn their noses up at living on bread and water alone has probably never eaten a loaf of homemade bread fresh out of the oven, accompanied by a drink of fresh clean well water. Okay. I’ll give them a little. The bread would taste better with homemade apple butter slathered across it.
I have learned that it is better to have one or two very close friends in the country than to be the life of the party in the city, surrounded by people you barely know. Hand in hand with that, I’ve learned that ‘close’ neighbors in the city mean those living next door to you, even if you barely know them by sight. I have ‘close’ neighbors here in the country that live five to ten miles from me, and know within five minutes if we are having problems. The only reason I know they know it is that they have called to let me know they are on their way to help, whether we need the assistance or not.
I have learned that over-the counter or prescription sleep aids don’t have anything on an evening curled up with a cup of hot tea, after a full day in the fresh air, fixing fence and chasing cows out of a neighbor’s garden.
I have learned that a good book or the newest farming magazine is more entertaining than anything television has to offer. And you will learn a lot more, too.
I have learned that there is nothing more beautiful and more fulfilling to the soul than to sit on the back step with a cup of coffee and watch the sun come up. In doing so, you can deeply appreciate the gift of being able to live for another day.
I have learned that I all the material goods in the world are not the source of happiness.
I have learned that I am more and more grateful, every day, for the lessons living on the farm has taught me. And I pray that I never take a single one of the lessons for granted.
What lessons have you learned on your farm – or in your life?