Wednesday, March 9, 2011


More rain falls steadily on the farm. Perfect weather for putting together the big Dutch Valley coop order. Perfect for paying bills. Perfect for working on the pile of papers for tax season.

Perfect for contemplating.

A year ago today Ophelia had her baby up in the upper field. I hope she waits this year until the rain stops. We want every drop of the rain to fall on our pastures, but it isn't the most lovely day for labor and delivery.

I just finished reading a few blog posts from a year ago. I try to do that occasionally to see where we are on the seasonal charts. To remember the best planting days. To see if where we are is normal or not.

Last year about this time I was calculating and figuring, trying to see if we could make it here on the farm without Philip. We crunched numbers, made business plan, and it did seem possible. Possible with plenty of grace, mercy and help from our friends and neighbors. I tried to factor in everything I could imagine at the time, reeling with shock, grief and loss.

After spending a significant amount of time going through all the receipts and paperwork from the last year, it is apparent that we have a successful business that could continue to generate income that would be sufficient for our family.

I can't believe it.

And even room for expansion. I calculated adding another farmer's market to our schedule to increase our income enough to cover some savings. Make sure we had enough for piano lessons and dentist bills. And then I took my proposed schedule to my prayer partner and best friend who immediately told me that our family couldn't handle such an intense schedule. That my body couldn't handle such an intense work load.

Around the same time, my mom had major surgery and could have used some help. And of course it was too far away for me to go and make her supper or vacuum or clean the toilets. And then my grandfather died and it was too far away and expensive for me to be able to take all the kids with me to the funeral.

For the last several months I have increasingly missed my parents.

I have always loved them and wished to be able to spend more time with them, but when Philip was alive, our home was together, wherever we lived. Whether New Jersey, Japan or Virginia, where we lived, we were home. I assumed that when we came to our dear farm, it would be forever home to me. That Philip and I would grow old, sit on the front porch in rocking chairs and listen to whipporwills with grandbabies cuddled on our laps.

After Philip died, I began to yearn to be with my parents more. To have my children be able to learn from them. To be able to help lighten their load when they get hit with surgeries, illnesses or whatever.

For some crazy reason, I dismissed those feelings, thinking that they represented weakness on my part. I told myself that my real family was my community, and that is the truth. Our community is the most miraculous expression of family I have ever witnessed, let alone experienced. To even think of sacrificing this world we love didn't make sense to me. It felt selfish.

Even as I type these words, I sob and wail, and dear Brownie, our dog comes to me and puts her head on my lap to offer comfort. She knows.

Last year as I added up many different factors, the pros and cons, I forgot to consider how much more valuable my family would be to me, now that Philip is gone. Not that they weren't valuable before February 25th, 2010. But I had no way of knowing how much I would need them. And how much my children would need to know their grandparents. And how important it might be for us to be in a situation that would allow us to help each other.

I want my Mom and Dad.

Adding to all these different situations and circumstances, the health issues, the funeral, once we got past the one year anniversary, some heavy reality hit me. The reality that I am a single mom and have to make many decisions without Philip's input. It isn't a bad thing to think that being somewhere nearer to my parents could be helpful to me. In case I haven't told you, my daddy can fix just about anything. It doesn't hurt my feelings to think about a life where I could call up my daddy and not only would he come over to help me fix things, but my children could learn from him.

It doesn't hurt my feelings to think about sharing holidays with my parents. Birthdays and baptisms. It doesn't hurt my feelings to think about visiting my parents' church every once in awhile to sing a special with them. To eat Sunday dinner with them accompanied by giant glasses of iced tea.

It does hurt my feelings to think about not growing old on this farm. I have never felt more home than I did from the moment I first drove up the driveway with our realtor, Sam. But no matter how you slice it, we are not in the same situation we were six years. This reality grieves me greatly. It is easy to think about all the things we might be doing if Philip were alive. But he isn't. And that is horribly sad. But it is our reality.

I want to be nearer my family. I want the kids to know their grandparents. I want to be able to call my dad when a door breaks or the faucet needs fixing. I want to ask my mom for potato soup when I am sick. And I want to be able to help my parents when they need me, so that I can teach the children how valuable it is to care for our family. Never dreamed I would say that. But here I am.

We will continue with life on the farm for the moment. Sheep have to be sheared soon. Tails have to be docked. Orders have to be fulfilled. Leaves will burst forth, flowers will bloom. Spring barn clean out is nigh upon us. But in the middle of all that, I plan to put the farm on the market, probably around Easter, praying to our dear heavenly Father to bring someone here who will love our farm and continue to put it to good use. And if that should happen, then I will trust that our Father, who has been so good to me, so loving and generous and trustworthy, will provide us another dream to replace the one that has died.

I truly do believe in the resurrection.

PS there are many other factors I have considered. For months. This decision isn't being made because we haven't had enough help. Or because we are in dire financial straits. Or because I think that a move will be easy or make my life trouble-free. Troubles have a way of following, no matter where we are! Part of life. The kids are sad, and it will cost each of us many different things. But we each have a deeper peace that transcends the hurting part. And that makes me okay to move forward. And if the farm doesn't sell, then we will happily stay put, continue to milk Coco, run a bakery and enjoy the seasons on the farm. And I won't have to live with regrets, wondering if I should have at least tried to take a few steps forward.


Chris said...

Oh my! I am not surprised that you'd want to be near your parents and I'm glad you took time before making any big changes. I sit here weeping for your loss of a dream and a home with Phillip. I pray for you and your children that these changes will go well. I hope you will continue to write. May you enjoy this spring in the beautiful Blue Ridge.

CountryDew said...

Good luck. Change is difficult, even if it is for the better. I will be praying for you.

Anonymous said...

Love you.......... catie said...

Thank you so much for weeping with me, Chris. I trust that there is a new dream. I guess I will keep on writing, since it appears at this point that I can't stop! The story will continue. Even as we grieve this adjustment, there is a sense of excitement and adventure.

Anita, I am so thankful for your prayers. And for everyone's friendship here in blog world. I treasure it.

You too, Catie.

Jayme said...

Oh Ginger! What beautiful, simple, trusting confidence in the Lord. He will guide you gently every step of the way. I want you and the kids to expect good things. Yes, different than what was originally expected, but good nonetheless...plans to prosper you and to give you a hope and a good future.

Debbie Millman said...

family. i am so grateful God is making it clear to you to be closer to your family, even thought I know it is a painful decision to leave the farm. i want to come and help somehow. i'll call you soon.