It's more than just having a mildly air conditioned kitchen for the first time since about 1999. It's about a state of mind, a state of hopefulness and expectancy, that I associate more with the early months of the year, than with the heat of summer. A relief from burdens and worries and cabin fever, a sense of new-found freedom.
Slowly it sinks in, slowly I relax into the fact: I am not alone at the farm any more. And those sharing the farm with me have lifted from me so many cares and burdens, that I have born so long alone through a dark night of the soul.
My new housemate, Emily, who had initially planned to live here a year and then shortened that to 6 months due to changes in her situation, quickly fell in love with the life here--both the way of living, and the other life forms--and asked to stay longer, and learn everything she can about managing a small farm from me. She asked to take over Pinwheel Farm's poultry enterprise as her special project and responsibility. Any one who knows me, knows I said YES! with a huge grin on my face, floating about 3 feet off the ground. I like WATCHING chickens, I like LISTENING to chickens, I like showing the chickens to children, I like eating eggs, I like watching people see green eggs for the first time. The rest of the business of raising chickens I can mostly take or leave, and at least a couple times a month I'm ready to go into the chicken & dumplings business instead. To be an advisor and fill-in chore person right on my own farm is just perfect for me. I can't begin to say what a relief it is to be freed from the daily burden of responsibility for them.
Emily has also taken over the kitchen, and I have gratefully relinquished it. Raised by parents who are said to both be excellent cooks, and then trapped in a tiny apartment with an tinier kitchen, she is delighting in exercising pent-up culinary creativity. I have loved to cook at many times in my life, but have been far to busy and care-worn to enjoy cooking just for myself this past couple years, even when I've been in a space where I could do so. I'm still active in the kitchen, but defer to Emily for our shared meals, and let her tell me how I can support her in food-focused endeavors. It's so much easier to stir the pasta when some asks me to, than to try to figure out the menu when I've been driving for 8 hours. I generally enjoy ANYTHING someone else cooks and sets in front of me...but Emily IS a good cook. Best yet, she believes in dessert! What delicious relief!
Emily also gets car-sick as a passenger. So she does the driving when we carpool to work in her fuel-efficient car. Is this heaven, or what? 20 minutes of relaxation in the passenger seat, noon and night, and it's easy to trust the driving safety of a fellow bus driver since even occurences in our off-duty time in personal vehicles can jeopardize our jobs.
Then there are the Christian brothers and sisters who are staying here and helping at the farm. It is so joyful and peaceful working with them. They know how to work: not specific tasks, but the overall way of being that is working. Volunteers with this skill are few and far between. All I have to do is explain or demonstrate the task...and it is as good as done, and then some. I didn't even ask Ruhamah to sweep the front patio and step. She just saw it needed done, and did it, and brushed all the cobwebs off the front of the house as well.
So, in addition to the miracle of the barn being cleared of the residue of the tenants' neglect:
- The decaying second-hand "chicken tractors" that I could never move by myself have been dismantled, and the chicken wire carefully salvaged.
- The ground has been leveled behind and west of the Brooder House, and around the Carpathian walnut tree and bench, and mulched with wood chips.
- The above trees have been pruned of dead wood, and trimmed higher so that it is inviting to walk or sit in their park-like shade.
- The port-a-potty has been moved to a shady spot.
- The wash house has been cleaned and arranged in a more useful fashion.
- The back yard and garden lanes have been mowed.
- The two temporary chain-link fence sheds have been cleaned out.
- The galvanized shed where tools and feed are kept has been cleaned and ordered--and I think I'll be able to find everything still, even though I wasn't present for the overhaul.
- Parts of the garage have been cleaned and re-organized to be more useful.
- The process of rendering out tallow from sheep slaughtered earlier this year has been started.
- Vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, turnips) have been harvested and washed for tomorrow's Farmers Market.
That's in addition to the usual rounds of picking up and unloading feed (somehow the bags seemed lighter than usual), coordinating with various suppliers/colleagues, email, job, laundry, etc.
I'll do market by myself again tomorrow, the first time I've done market since mid-June when I became simply too overwhelmed by the press of responsibility for EVERYTHING, and too sleepless from lack of time to meet those responsibilities, to continue to do market. It will still be a challenge to do market and then drive a full shift. But it feels like there is a safety net around me now. It isn't ALL on my shoulders any more.
It is a good feeling, and I am incredibly grateful to those who are lifting these burdens from me. It is a feeling of relief like spring after winter, like arriving at an oasis after travelling through the desert. It is a miraculous answer to my prayers for the farm to be somehow made whole again after the destruction wrought by the negligent tenants. Thanks be to God! The long, lonely struggle is being well rewarded.
So, off to get some sleep before a long day....