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A hard won, well deserved sabbatical can be a good thing.  It’s more or less planned for and you can relax, enjoy and rejuvenate a tired body and a weary soul.  A forced sabbatical, on the other hand – well, not so much.  And of course, mine was not only forced, but shall we say, less than enjoyable.

We deal with all kinds of things on the farm.  For the past six weeks or better, the majority of our issues have dealt with the humans who are supposed to be running the farm.  First up was a Friday.  I was already running behind schedule, and was late getting outside to feed and water the animals.  My mind was so focused on that task, plus trying to figure out how to catch up, that I almost didn’t recognize the Country Boy’s truck turning in at the gate.  At 8:30 in the morning.  My first thought was, ‘Yuck.  What broke at the plant that he has to come get some of his parts to fix?’   The Country Boy has a shop full of an odd assortment of pieces and parts, that it isn’t unusual for him to supply the plant with something.  I stood in the 98 degree heat and million degree humidity, already drenched in sweat after only being outside for about 90 seconds, waiting for him to pull up even with me.  As he got out of the truck, I asked him what was up.  His response: “I am freezing to death and have to run…”  Uh. Oh.

It went downhill from there.  He was sick for four days, while I spent my time alternating between caring for him and doing the work of two people on the farm, as well as keeping up with my other three jobs.  My favorite cousin ended up in the hospital, so trips to town were added on top of all that.  Ten days had passed, and I thought things were calming down.  Until I woke up in the wee hours with a fever.    I cannot remember the last time I spent two full days doing little else than sleeping.  A week later, with little to no energy, I pulled myself up by my tennis shoe laces and started the arduous process of regaining my strength.  It took a delivery to a neighbor two weeks later to wipe out all that hard work of recovering.  She had been suffering through the same stuff. Yep.  BOOM!  Relapse.

The biggest issue here is, it doesn’t really matter what happens.  It doesn’t matter who gets sick, what breaks, or what goes BOOM!  Living on a farm means you still have to care for animals.  You still have to pick up feed.  You still have work to do.  One of the days with my first round found me balancing on the Country Boy’s arm to make it to the chicken coop.  I still had a fever, but managed to feed and water my feathered friends, while the Country Boy did the heavy lifting of feeding the cows.  In between rest breaks on the couch, I was able to do a couple loads of laundry from start to finish, feed dogs and load/unload the dishwasher, as well as a few smaller chores.

And that is life.  You may have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps – or, in my case, my tennis shoe strings – so many times that they become worn, frazzled and thread bare.  But that is when you learn the art of tying knots.  Your laces may have so many knots they look like a macramé cord, but you just keep doing it until the worst passes, and life gives you just enough time and money to head to the dollar store to buy a new pair.  Then lace up your boots or tennis shoes, and get ready for the next round.

Do me a favor.  The next time you hear me complaining about not having any free time to do for myself – shut me up.  Throw rotten tomatoes, bop me on the head with a watermelon, or just grab some duct tape and hay rope and plaster my mouth shut.  I really don’t need the bad karma that may just zap me with another unscheduled, unplanned, unwanted sabbatical.  And if I don’t show myself in public for the next month, don’t worry.  I’m just doing everything in my power to avoid yet another relapse.