The Team

These things come naturally to him.

How to build fences, repair pipes and rearrange pastures.

To me it’s all foreign so I do what I know best.

I read.

I spend hours researching sheep breeds, farming grants and microloans.

I watch webinars on flower farming.

He would prefer to be in our forest, walking the land, naming the trees.

We are learning to meet in the middle.

He’s teaching me how to drive the tractor.

I’m reminding him to reach for me.

When he doubts I point him towards what the research has shown.

We are learning to open our hearts to what each can offer, learning to be a team.

An ending

In February I left my position as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at a small university. I planned on a few months of exploring my options before landing in a similar executive role somewhere.

I believed I had a resume and the connections to make it happen.

Then March rolled in and so with it came a global pandemic.

I found myself sheltering in place, holding tight to those dreams of the climb while homeschooling children and networking over skype.

What I had assumed would be 30-60 days of a mini sabbatical turned into nearly seven months of living without work.

When doors continue to close you begin to wonder if God is trying to tell you something.

I’ve spent a lifetime living in the shadow of my own career. The race to the top, the next promotion, the next percentage increase on my paycheck had become my personal definition of self worth. Without that who am I?

I am more then my job and that is why I am calling it quits.

My competitive, type A personality has me screaming “don’t do this to your career, you’ve worked too hard”. While my heart has found more peace and contentment in the last 24 hours then in all the days prior.

No longer will I wake up each morning scouring Linked-In job postings.

You can go back to answering my phone calls, I promise I am not calling to hassle you about your connections.

At forty three years of age and with zero experience I will become a full- time farmer.

I will work to transform the seventeen acres of field and forest that we purchased in July into a working flower and sheep farm

This land needs me and if I am being honest I need it.

I need hard labor.

I need to learn.

Please don’t be mistaken, this is not some noble choice I am making. Had I actually been offered that first job where I was a finalist back in February, would I be sitting here typing this? No.

But it is in the failing that I have found myself.

Because we are raising this big, beautiful, blended family with six girls, we still need to make ends meet.

I will be working part-time jobs to help with the hit our checking account will be taking. But, my primary focus will remain on raising a farm and raising a family.

I look forward to more time spent sharing with you the beauty of Avonlea Farm. You can follow along here on the blog or on Instagram at FarmAvonlea.

Whatever happens next, the failure or the success, I know it won’t define me; living in joy will.

16

Dear Sidney,

When sixteen looks like sweat stained clothes and muddy boats, Momma can’t help but thank God for your work ethic.

When sixteen sings off key and laughs at stupid jokes, Momma can’t help but thank God for your humor.

When sixteen falls off then hops back on the horse,

when it leaves behind the comfort of familiar faces,

when its worst fears become its best days,

Momma can’t help but thank God for your perseverance.

Somewhere along the way six became sixteen.

The bundle of long legs wrapped in a pink blanket became the best daughter, the best sister, the best friend, the best woman.

When sixteen looks like you Sidney, your Momma couldn’t be more proud.

Happiest of birthday’s my love.

This is your year.

My whole heart always,

Momma

Yes I did consider Skee-Lo, but instead- no mountain too high, always here.

The Ducks

Six new ducks made their way to the farm.

Some decisions take time and others are arrived at quickly.

The choice to raise ducklings came in a split second.

Only after their arrival did I become aware of their benefits.

Turns out ducks are hardier and healthier then chickens. They will manage the changing seasons with little concern.

Our ducks will help control the insect population and they will lay eggs that provide more protein and are better used in baked goods then the speckled eggs our chickens will yield.

Winston, Vid, Ray, Duckie, Dawn and No Name welcome to Avonlea. Thanks, in advance, for your service.

Farming

I know nothing of farming.

My life on the land had previously consisted of childhood trips to Round Hill Farm and an adult life spent at the “Barn” watching my eldest daughter ride her horse named Glinda (yes the Good Witch).

I am soft.

While long runs had previously left me feeling scrappy, I realize I and manual labor are just now becoming acquainted.

The callouses on my palms show the world that I most likely was not raised on it.

But, it is the missing piece.

No job and a pandemic sitting on my doorstep yet hauling dirt, moving stones and dreaming of life with sheep has brought more peace then a Sunday service.

I choose to live in this moment.

Where snakes slither beneath the foundation,

and one rock dug up reveals another.

In this place I just might find my purpose.

Avonlea

It’s the sound of the rooster and the sight of the bluebirds.

It’s the smell of the soil and the taste of sweet plums.

It’s breathing clearer and working harder.

It is knowing the best thing a man will ever own is a piece of land.

The Tractor

The pieces begin to fall into place.

A house in contract, a closing date set.

We found ourselves on the hunt for something to mow our fields

And, as it sometimes happens, the right person found us.

A man named O’Neil had a 1950 Ford 8n tractor to sell.

The farm taking shape as we stood one Saturday admiring the machine being entrusted to our care.

With the tractor came O’Neil’s stories;

an upbringing in Kentucky, a wife met at the roller ring and the 62 years celebrated together.

Decades spent working hard, loving the land and living a life of service to God and country.

“Live in Joy, O’Neil counseled, “not happiness, Joy.

His words now woven with ours.

His tractor, his story, now a piece of this life we are building at the farm.

The Day

It began in this way.

The iPhone notes an accurate depiction of life in my new world.

The coffee runs. The routine needs.

The mundane moments of this day.

The growing happens hidden in these highlights.

No longer running to meet deadlines, now rushing to meet needs.

So I change.

Adapting to these new days.

Wondering constantly if this present is meant to be the future or if I am marking time waiting for the next new day to unfold.

Giving up on the guessing.

I am here.

Just looking to answer the call- “What would you have me do today?”

The answer open ended-

be here now.

Persist

Months of heartache have trailed us.

The job loss, the pandemic, the struggle that seems to have us always in the waiting.

My love, I can’t imagine these trials without you beside me.

When this world has been turned upside down,  I find myself grateful that you came along. Your presence makes possibilities endless.

I long for days when porch swings and miles up mountains fill our moments.  But until that day is here, as we raise young women and watch the everyday beauty unfold, I will feel more hopeful then blue.

I will find peace in our persistence.

Old Houses

Old houses carry baggage.

Years of abandonement mean aches and pains that must be treated.

We know her war wounds and trust that this is where we are meant to be.

She will require years of hard labor.

Days will be spent digging and grating and hauling away the signs of neglect.

Who better to rebuild a broken space then those who understand how scars become beauty marks?

As we manage the unending waiting game of will we or won’t we get an offer on the place we live today, we will be content with our dreams about the day that old house gets to welcome us home.