So, I've been very absent lately, and it's not all due to my typical craft fair hangover + post-holiday slump. No, for the past several months, I've been spending 3-6 hours every other week in a county fair building some 90 minutes west of my home, learning about holistic and whole farm management philosophies in a Farm Beginnings program offered annually by the Land Stewardship Project. And a fair portion of my time outside the classroom has been spent researching, writing, and reconnecting with my favorite alpaca farmers.
To many of you, this is no surprise. But some of you may be furrowing your brows in confusion or wonder. Let me explain. I've had a serious case of Barnheart for the past 5 years:
"that sudden overcast feeling that hits you while at work or in the middle of the grocery store checkout line. It’s unequivocally knowing you want to be a farmer — and for whatever personal circumstances — cannot be one just yet. So there you are, heartsick and confused in the passing lane, wondering why you cannot stop thinking about heritage livestock and electric fences. . . .
"It’s a dreamer’s disease: a mix of hope, determination, and grit. Specifically targeted at those of us who wish to god we were outside with our flocks, feed bags, or harnesses and instead are sitting in front of a computer screen."
I'm hoping to find my cure for Barnheart in a heritage-breed fiber farm (sheep, goats, and alpaca) and fiber CSA. I long to spend my days working in and with rather than against nature. To be a good steward of the land. To do work that feeds my soul, while deepening my spiritual connection to both people and the natural world. To foster creativity and handmade pursuits within the community.
That's right, nearly all my long-term goals are related to farming and living in the country and playing with fiber and just doing. I know it won't be easy. It takes a lot of grit—physical and mental—to run a farm and make a living from it. But it's what I want, truly. And I hope I can make it happen within the next two years, even if it's just part-time.
I've spent a lot of time this past year examining my values and goals and intentions. In doing so, it has become painfully clear to me that I have spent a good deal of time living outside of them, living out of integrity with myself. I've known since I was 18 that I wasn't really cut out for corporate life, and yet I've spent the last 15 years attempting to fit into that mold. I've taken the path of least resistance too many times instead of creating the life I want.
My Farm Beginnings course is just one of many shifts (some tiny, others larger) that I've been making over the last year on my path toward intention. I want to be mindful of where I'm spending my time and energy, and if it isn't in service to my values in any way, then I need to foster change in that area.
I know I'm starting to sound a little too woo-woo. This is what happens when you spend several months clarifying to yourself what you personally hold most dear and why, and exploring where your strengths intersect with your passions.
So this is where I'm at. Researching. Exploring. Thinking. Acting slow. Acting purposefully. Taking baby steps. For someone who likes to leap feet first into almost everything, you have no idea how uncomfortable this is. But it's what needs to happen right now to move me closer to my goals. And I can only hope that the reward at the end will be all that much sweeter!