Only a Farmer at heart Understands
I was sitting there trying to eat my sandwich lamenting the choice to go easy on the mustard. Not all decisions made at 5:30 in the morning are so wise in the light of day. As I choked down another bite a fellow classmate sat down across from me and attempted to make small talk.
“Do you feel confident about the quiz tomorrow?” she asked.
“Well,” I said, choking down another bite of dry bread and turkey. “I don’t really have the time to be overly confident about it.”
“Oh, why’s that? Are you having trouble in the class?”
“No, not at all and I’ll probably be fine but I don’t have the time to study enough to be overly confident about how I’ll do on a test.”
“Why don’t you have time to study?”
“My husband’s work schedule and mine are kind of in conflict so it’s making things hard, you know.”
At this point I felt like I was being interrogated by a nosy toddler. I just wanted to sit there and actually have a chance to finish my sandwich without choking to death before my half hour lunch break was over. Answering her questions wasn’t helping accomplish that, anyhow I’ve never been a fan of small talk.
But she can’t leave well enough alone, “Do you have to pick him up or something?”
“No, actually he has to pick me up but he has to be at work at 7am so I get to campus at like 6:30 and then some days I’m here until 10 at night.”
“Well I would think if I was on campus that long I would have plenty of time to study.”
I will admit I was too tired to form a good response. My initial reaction was to try to defend myself but I also felt irritated and frustrated. What gave her the right to judge me and my situation?
“Sure, but I have to bring everything with me to do that and pack it around all day…” I started to say but was cut short when another class mate walked by letting us know the door was open now. I made my escape. I never did finish my sandwich.
This has stuck with me. I can’t just forget about it. This woman, who also happens to be significantly older than me, took it upon herself to point out my inability to do it all. It probably shouldn’t bother me so much; it was just a few minutes, a few words and one person’s opinion. But it bothers me a lot. She had a chance to extend her knowledge and support to me. To offer me charity; instead she passed judgment on me.
Days when I’m on campus the only things that get done at home are taking care of animals and making sure we get fed, which more times than not recently has been grab and go crap that I don’t enjoy eating. We literally come home take care of things, fall in bed and do it all again the next day. I study and do much of my homework in the morning block before my first class. On days with time off campus I’m usually racing to get caught up on chores I can’t get to during the week. There is rarely time for homework.
She has no idea what my daily life is like. All of you folks who also have these crazy “from scratch” lifestyles know exactly what I’m talking about. We get up and care for animals and our families and then we rush off to jobs, school or keep working at home like slaves to make our dreams work. There are long days, early mornings and late nights. There are some days we go to that off farm job when all we can think about are the seeds that need planted, the animals that might escape and decimate the garden, and the produce that needs preserved before it end ups on the compost pile. We’ve all lost sleep over the possibility of frost and pregnant, newborns or sick animals. When we set down to dinner it’s often dark out already, thrown together and eaten as quickly as possible so we can get everything done before we fall in bed and do it all again the next day.
Some days we go into town with hay in our hair and a barnyard soup on our boots because we forgot to switch them out for “town shoes.”
This way of life we’ve chosen is not easy. We will never get it all done. There will always be something we should have done. We make endless mistakes and have mountains of regret and doubt. The people who know what we’re doing more times than not think we’re just going through a phase, don’t have our priorities straight or that we’ve completely lost our minds.
Let’s face it: some people are not going to understand. We will all turn blue in the face and pass out from trying to make it understandable to everyone.
We know how hard it can be and we know it’s worth it. And when our paths cross out in the real world there are exchanged wry smiles and nods. There will be days that we feel defeated. There will be days where your choices are judged. There will be days when you feel like it’s you verses the world.
I’m here to tell you that this too shall pass.
I promise, you can handle this. I promise, the sun will shine again.
Right now I’m here to remind myself of it.
We have to stick up for each other and stick together because sometimes what we really need is help at midnight. And the person who will be there isn’t the one who questioned your sanity over adding the goats, it’s going to be the gal you met at the grocery store and ended up talking with about chickens for an hour in the parking lot. Sometimes we need a second pair of hands to get the work done and there’s no shame in that. Sometimes we just need a hand up. Sometimes a kind word is enough to get us on our feet again. Just knowing that someone else “gets it” can be priceless. After all, they have no idea how much we love our life and how hard we work for it.
They don’t know about all the beautiful sunrises we see. They don’t know what it’s like to sit quietly in a garden totally overcome with aw. They don’t know about the pride you feel when you bypass entire aisles at the store. They’ve never laughed for joy because the whole menagerie comes running down the driveway to greet you after a long day. They’ve never cried over split milk, dropped eggs or busted fences. They haven’t painstakingly worked on an enclosure for hours just to have the animal it’s suppose to house undo all their work in minutes. They haven’t spent months eagerly pouring over seed catalogs; agonizing over which varieties should have space in the garden. They haven’t had weeks of carefully tended tiny seedlings ruined by a few hours of hungry insects. They don’t know about freezers, cupboards and every empty corner being filled with the fruits of our labors. They don’t know that behind the tears we cry, the sweat drenched shirts, the bloody rags and the exhaustion there is a life that makes waking every morning a blessing. They can’t know the fulfillment of sitting down to a meal where you knew the carrots from when they were just seeds and the steak from when it was just a rounding of its mother’s ribs. They don’t know that things taste better when they’re seasoned memories.
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