well that’s that…and a word

Hello everyone and Happy New Year to you all!! So, I had the intention to ride the lovely momentum that the Capturing December project had created for me here in this space. However, the fates had other plans. This post has sat in my draft box, in one form or another, since the day our last holiday guest left. I contemplated not ever hitting publish on this one but then I stopped and realized I had spent the entire last month of 2013 opening myself up, sharing authentically (whether the day, the shot, or myself was perfect or not) and accepting, no, embracing all the beautiful/ugly, ideal/imperfect, helpful/inconvenient everything. Picking a word of the year that speaks to you is something a lot of my blogworld friends participate in annually, my beautiful and talented girl Tracie is the one who introduced me to the practice. So, I’m hitting publish, speaking truth and choosing to EMBRACE it all, with a little help from you, I hope. 🙂

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With the first full week of the new year coming to an end, so did our holiday celebrations (with the exception of one, which had to be postponed until a later date.)

It was, all in all, a relatively calm holiday season.

We visited, we ate, drank, laughed and reminisced. We gave gifts we produced right here on the farm or, at least, with our own hands. We weathered two below zero forecasts and two snow storms. I completed a goal of recording a picture a day in December, while at the same time cultivating some beautiful friendships with some lovely ladies who joined in, kept me company and kindly provided encouragement throughout the process.

In the quiet pockets of time, between meals to prepare, waiting for visitors to arrive, caring for livestock and children, healing from one illness after another and contending with piles of snow, we brainstormed. We talked about what we wanted to plan on for the coming year, what we wanted to eliminate, what we had to do, what we no longer wanted to participate in and how to arrive at that oh so beautiful place we call balance.

With the hurricane of the holiday season dissipating reality is becoming quite evident in the light of the new year.

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I am not getting better…yet. My Hashimoto’s is actually progressing rather than remitting, as are my symptoms. The past few weeks are apparently going to take sometime to recover from, evident in the fact that today I didn’t drag myself from bed until late morning, spent most of the day under a blanket, on the couch, snuggling with either a puppy or child all while dirty dishes laid waiting to be washed, laundry baskets overflowed and decorations begged to be put away. I barely even touched my latest knit project (which is very unlike busy-minded me.) With each passing day it has been a little bit harder to get out of bed in the morning, my joints have increasingly ached, throbbed and swelled, my mind has become more sluggish and my mood has swung sadly low again. The worst part is the normal healthy me is trapped inside this wasted, sad excuse for a 31-year-old, watching it all plummet and feeling as though she can’t do anything to stop it.

I think I did a fairly good job of hiding it throughout the season. However, those of you who visited might not necessarily agree. I know while we ate very well at most meals, I did indulge in more sugar and refined flour than I would have any other time of the year. I also slept less and was on the go more, which probably hasn’t helped. Many changes are being instituted in the hopes of relieving symptoms, maybe, if I am lucky, reducing my antibodies, but they are going to have to be big changes that require a lot of support, often readjusting of everyday occurrences and instituting of new habits.

On top of all my health issues not only has my mother been suffering from health problems the last six months but now my father is also. None of it seems to be life threatening, thank goodness, but all of it is pervasive enough to put both of them out of commission. Not only are they unable to help around the homestead but they are both in need of help from Kevin and I for, not only everyday needs, but also in their non-farm business. My parents still do their best to help, in many different ways, but currently have neither the time nor the energy/ability to do what we had all initially intended. (It was, of course, always the plan for us to care for them as they grew old, which was the entire point of us all agreeing to cohousing, I just don’t think any of is expected that need to happen so soon, nor occur all at once.)

Circumstances have drastically changed since our move here two years ago. Not only am I less than helpful with our usual farm task, leaving most of that on Kevin’s shoulders, but our attention is now desperately needed in places that are, albeit just as, if not more important than our dreams of homesteading and self-sufficiency.

So the short of it all is, things are quickly being recalculated and rearranged in order for Kevin and I to have the time and energy to continue raising the kids in the way we had always intended and something has to give. That something seems to be the majority of our homesteading lifestyle.

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Sadly, I am selling almost all of my sheep herd and as of Saturday 10 will already be off to their new homes. I am just not physically capable of tending to a herd of 20, nor am I able to process as many fleeces come March. It also seems unfair for their care to fall mostly to Kevin, as it is his least favorite job here on the farm. (Most of our sheep are just that, sheep and with the exception of about 6 they tend to do the opposite of what we want them to.) So, we are aiming to sell most, butcher a few and, for now, keep only 4 ewes as pets/lawn mowers/fleece providers.

We are also selling or culling the majority of our laying hens. The plan is to put some meat in the freezer, decrease the amount of feed and care needed and keep only the best layers to meet our personal egg needs. Then we will add in maybe 3-6 new chicks to replace those layers next year. It will also mean a new, smaller coop, closer to the house which will facilitate in the kids and I easily taking over their care (no matter how I feel on any given day) and relieving Kevin of that chore, as well.

Thankfully, none of the cows ended up being bred this past summer (Yay, for the combination of being too busy and having a little bit of brain fog thrown in) so we do not have calving to worry about and the herd was already due to be decreased with the butchering of one steer in spring and the second in fall. We are also considering selling the three girls if things remain the same by late summer.

The ordering of two more pigs and a batch of meat birds has also been put off and we will be forced to outsource those meats to other local homesteaders and farms, along with our milk needs. That will leave us with our goat heard, which are fairly easy keepers, and our garden/orchard. The garden planning has not yet begun but I think I am going to have to force myself to keep it even smaller than last year and possibly supplement by buying a CSA share.

It is sad because we have all of this land and all the possibilities it holds and we are now back to living a not so self-sufficient life. I am beyond frustrated and swing from beating myself up for seemingly failing at our dream and curling up in bed wishing we had never tried. I have so many things I want to do, learn and become better at (as does Kevin and which I wish I was better at facilitating, or better yet, not interrupting!) but I can’t make my body or our current life situation mold to those needs and head in that direction.

I am also a little sad because I feel like this blog will no longer have a voice. There won’t be much homesteading occurring for at least awhile and that is really what the space was supposed to be all about. I do not yet know what the future holds for my writing here. Maybe a different blog? Maybe some time away while we regroup? I really don’t want to stop writing, photographing or sharing as it feels cathartic and I have met so many beautiful, wonderful friends through it, but this doesn’t feel like the right place to air all of that. Then again, maybe this is just another chapter in our story that needs to be told?

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So, how does one arrive at a place of acceptance when they feel like their body is abandoning them and their self is mostly unrecognizable both physically and mentally? Or when their dreams, at worst, fall apart around them, or, at best, get put on hold for an indefinite period of time?

They feel sad, they cry, they get angry and they ask why. Then they wake up and pull themselves out  of bed and start making an alternate plan. They sit across from their husband and talk about it, all day if necessary, until his outer dialogue becomes her inner dialogue because, heaven knows, the awful words she has been telling herself are not helping.

And then we make a plan, one that allows everyone to work on healing, keeps the kids from getting lost in what was becoming a manic shuffle and keeps an eye on that thread of a dream, until another day, when we can pick it back up and weave it into our lives again.

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January is Thyroid Awareness month. The butterfly is the symbol for thyroid awareness (as the gland is shaped as such.) My mother-in-law gave this ornament to S and left it nestled in our tree (yes it is still up) and I found it there earlier today. Approximately 1 in 1000 people suffer from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, a disease that is, at least, 10 times more common in women than men. It is also a hereditary disease. Please go here to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of the illness because chances are someone you know is suffering.

17 thoughts on “well that’s that…and a word

  1. Oh Laura, I am so sorry things are not going your way. I really feel for you. Please don’t stop writing, but in saying that don’t beat yourself up if you do need to take the time. Your followers will still be here to support in whatever you need to share and they won’t go away if you need to disappear for a while. I hope you are feeling better soon and don’t let go of that dream. xo

    • Thank you so much for your kind words Cathie. These connections, like “meeting” you are why I want to find a way to continue writing and connecting! 🙂

  2. I had no idea, I am so very sorry. The one thing we never let go of are dreams, hang on to them. They may have to change and evolve as we move along our path, but never give up.

    Thinking of you and sending positive vibes and thoughts as you find your way. Hang in there.

  3. It’s very brave to write a post like this, honest and straight from the heart as many bloggers feel compelled only to show the bright and shiny side of life. You tried to live your desired lifestyle and you will never look back and think “if only I’d given it a go”. So, you’re having to scale back but that’s not the end of the world because dangling in front of you will be the chance to scale back up if and when it’s right for you. I’ve enjoyed sharing your homesteading adventures and whatever direction you take, I’m hope you’ll take us with you. All the best for 2014. Ax

    • Thank you for your kind, wise words and encouragement. These connections I have made through this blog are one of the best things that have resulted from us setting out on this adventure, whether it continues or not.

  4. That was a very heavy post and I’m so glad you felt brave enough to reveal all your feelings just exactly the way you are feeling them. It’s so crazy the twists and turns life throws our way, out of our control. I’m happy to see though that you are being proactive and although it’s not what you exactly had in mind, it’s smart in order to keep sanity and not be completely overwhelmed. I’m most sorry to hear about your health. That must be beyond frustrating. I hope to hear from you from time to time. Sounds like a new “adventure” is heading your way. It may be just what you need. It may be just not the right timing for that dream of yours to take full span or could mean there is something entirely different in your future. I suppose it’s just hard to really know. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Much love
    your friend
    Tracie

    • Thank you friend! Yes, after posting this and putting it all out into the universe we seem to be moving out of the sad/frustrated stage and into a phase of feeling a little bit of relief and acceptance. I hope you are right and there is adventure just on the other side of all this difficulty. I also hope to find a way to keep sharing and connecting as it has meant the most to me and has made the good times sweeter and the hard times easier. Thanks for “walking” along with me! 🙂 ❤

  5. First, I have to say that I love these honest and raw posts where you open up and we all see a glance into your world. Second, I’m so sorry for the health challenges you and your parents are facing. It’s never easy, but especially in our younger years, it can leave you scratching your head and wondering how your body is fighting against itself.

    It sounds like you and your husband are really coming together to plan, support, and pull each other through these hard times. When I saw you write: “It is sad because we have all of this land and all the possibilities it holds and we are now back to living a not so self-sufficient life”, my heart fell a little for you 😦 I can’t imagine this feeling, but from an outsider’s perspective your family is still be more self-sufficient than most. And maybe through the years that self-sufficiency will grow and evolve, as your lives and needs do as well 🙂

    To wrap up this long-winded comment, I have to say this: keep writing. Your words are beautiful and part of the process of working through these hard times is artistically representing ourselves. You’re very inspiring to those around you and this entire change could just be a new door opening that hasn’t been seen yet!

    • Caitlin,

      Thank you for your kind and lovely words. Your encouragement of both my writing and the little bit of homesteading we will still be doing means so much. I am so glad that I hit publish on this post because the love you and the others have been sending our way is just what we need to lift our spirits and help us see that, just maybe, there is a new adventure awaiting us on the other side of this hurdle. ❤

  6. Laura, I so admire your courage and honesty (and yes, I’m sure that sometimes you don’t feel you have either); I hope you do continue the blog; it’s good for people to realize that achieving one’s dream is not the end of hte road; other challenges can and will manifest. In the end, all that matters is that we do our best to meet each one and let go of any memory when we feel we cannot or have not done so. Hang in there, eh? Know that you will be in many people’s thoughts and prayers as you go through this time. None of us know the road ahead, only the bit we walk on today. I wish you all the best through this stage of your journey. ~ Linne

    • Thank you, Linne! I do find myself still coming back here and wanting to sit and write so I am hopeful that this space will continue! Heavens knows I love connecting with all of you and sharing both our struggles and accomplishments with one another. Support is so important!

  7. Pingback: on killing and eating, loving and caring | big house, little prairie

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