Winter quiet brings a space for thinking that I never seem to have time for during the busier seasons, so I’ve been mulling about the meaning of family.
If you come from a relatively small birth family like mine (no siblings), the word family has a little more flexible meaning than it might for other people. In our life, family is who shows up and cares enough to use precious vacation days to come from NY and camp in our back yard; or people who send us news clippings and Craigslistings of used yurts; and people who randomly ship paleo/low carb cookies that Chris can eat. Or people who drop by their famous pepper jelly with an extra Christmas cactus (his name is Ernie–by the way—the cactus, not the person). Or people who buy frozen geese as a joke and name lambs after football quarterbacks just to annoy us.
Family is about creating connection. It’s not even necessarily about the length of time spent together; it’s about a feeling, locked in, that’s there and solid. It can be a week or a month or five years, when you see each other and the warm glow is still between you. A quick email, a texted heart, a momentary online exchange; it’s just nice to know each other is still out there.
A farm is a different kind of a business than others, often because it’s a physical, biological place and not just a building or cloud space. Farm businesses can move to new locations; farmers can relocate. But a farm is embedded in its town; it protects the watershed from flooding, it hosts wildlife for hunters and visitors, it produces food, fiber, and fuel for its neighbors. A farm is almost its own member of the greater town family. I get how people sometimes talk about a farm having a life of its own; they certainly have their own personalities! I think ours somewhat resembles a few people I know (who shall remain unnamed!)…a little run down, a little rough around the edges, but waiting for a bit of love and care to bloom.
We are part of a greater community. Sometimes I think it’s easy to forget that, when we talk to the people we see every day online or in person, but our community includes all the people that we think about and don’t see as often as we’d like, and those people we probably should reach out to. It wasn’t exactly a New Year’s Resolution (I don’t ever actually achieve those, do you?), but I did set an intention this year to reach out to people I think about, more. When someone crosses my mind, I am trying to send them an email, text, card, message. What caused that person to cross my mind? Were they thinking of me? Does it matter? Were they in need of someone, anyone stretching a hand (virtual or otherwise) to them? If we can be that for them, I think we owe it to ourselves to try.
Because these invisible threads that connect and bind us, these relationships of birth/adopted/friends/besties/family-by-any-name…they are what hold us together when everything else goes down.
We try to ask ourselves–what kind of family are we cultivating? Is it a place where lots of perspectives are welcome, and there’s something to learn from everyone? We hope so! Is it about creating hope together and strength and connection? We try. Is it about being perfect? Absolutely not. I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown lately, and let me be super vulnerable and up front here: I haven’t always been a very good friend. I once got fired from a wedding, and I totally deserved that. Thankfully, most of my dearest friends have forgiven my failings, but not everyone has. Life is long, and we’re not perfect–I’m certainly not! So, let’s forgive ourselves and try to do better, together.
Thanks for being part of our family. We wouldn’t be here without the support from and belief of all the people who thought we could do this, and continue to send us good vibes and high fives and visits to take a class or buy some farm products. We are all in this together, and I love that.
And, exciting news! I was just interviewed on the Small Farm Nation podcast about getting our farm started up and the journey that got us here. And about being a woman farmer and some other neat things about my farm experience. Please give it a listen, and thank you again, family!