I’d be lying if I didn’t say the last six months have been challenging. I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that the surprises that came our way were terrible and terrific. Having made those two admissions, I wanted to share with you some wonderful lessons that come with showing up even when things are tough.
When I say things have been tough, I should disclose that since July we’ve lost our beloved dog Bandit; had a turkey barn burn to the ground mysteriously; our 16-year-old neighbor totaled his car hitting one of our cows on the highway (Miraculously the cow was ok.); our daughter spent her 14th birthday in the hospital because she tore two ligaments in her ankle; our son has been recurrently sick and we don’t know why; my dad continues in his battle with colon cancer; my sister-in-law’s car was stolen from a conference she and I attended (She drove because the transmission went out on my vehicle); we had to put down our sweet 26 year-old horse Star; all three kiddos had Influenza A the week before Christmas; and avian influenza (HPAI) infected one of our buildings resulting in the destruction of two flocks of turkeys and shutting down our world. It’s been rough.
On New Year’s Eve, Hubby and I were invited to a wedding. We definitely didn’t want to miss this special event, but we were not able show up until the meal was already being served. Upon our arrival at the wedding reception, Hubby and I were flooded with folks who wanted to express their joy in seeing us and that they had been thinking of us. Everywhere we turned we were greeted with warm wishes for a better 2023 and offers of help. The outpouring was overwhelming to say the least. Many commented that they were surprised to see us. Their astonishment was understandable given that we haven’t exactly been social butterflies in the wake of all the was going on.
Surprise #1 in Showing Up:
Part of our absence from society has been due to the long hours necessary to move past the catastrophic challenges of getting our farm back to normal. Our social quarantine was also a result fear of potentially causing another farmer to suffer the ravages of the bird flu on their flocks. Even though we are well past the phase of cross-contamination, caution has still been a priority for us. Our willingness and determination to keep other farmers safe made it much sweeter when we were finally able to rejoin the ranks of our friends and family.
If you aren’t always able to be with the ones you love, your return can be surprisingly sweet.
Surprise #2 in Showing Up:
The process for re-population of a farm after HPAI often takes up to 6 months because farmers and the government agencies have a very hard time working together. (There are a TON of regulation hoops to jump through for USDA and Department of Agriculture following an HPAI infection.) Hubby and I have worked tirelessly to do what is needed to keep the process moving forward and keeping lines of communication going with the reps from both government agencies. As a result, we are hoping to regain our ability to get back to farming as usual in 3 months.
If you show up, do the work, and make the best of ugly situations, surprisingly the results can come quicker and better than expected.
Surprise #3 in Showing Up:
As we have battled our way through the chaos on the farm and the illness in our home, we have been blessed to have a number of friends and family drop off meals and treats, make impromptu visits to help organize testing supplies, drop off/pick up school work, finish up Christmas shopping, and provide support for our sanity. The crews who have enlisted their time, talents, and equipment to help with the indemnification, composting, and clean up of our barns have been super heroes. They have tolerated long waits for government agencies, provided necessary supplies, and done jobs that even Mike Rowe would hesitate to accept. Each person who stepped up to help us or called to provide positive reinforcement proved that a community is strongest when it comes together.
Thanks to these amazing folks there is no surprise in the fact that there are still good people in this world willing to step up and help where they are needed.
As we waltz into 2023 full of hope and proudly wearing our battle wounds, we can relish with amazement discoveries made when we show up to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. There is beauty in being speechless at kindness, versatility, and determination. There is grace in having our breath taken away by the generosity or loyalty of those we didn’t expect or whom we’d never think to ask for assistance. Having reflected on the miracles that manifested themselves to us in the previous weeks, my wish is for 2023 to be a year full of surprises that show up in the forms of courage, consideration, accountability, and positive energy.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. I’m okay with a few surprises in 2023, but I’m a little nervous about what might show up next.