In 2010 I started my own permaculture based landscaping business, fell in love, started to raise pigs, bought 39 acres in Western Wisconsin, and moved back to the land on my birthday. In 2011 I got married, and began to learn about the realities of being a homesteader. I started to fall in love with my community. Since then, I’ve been through many things, including fighting a frac sand mine, a terrible fire that burned to death a new flock of our ducklings, a house that leaked heat like a colander, and regulatory issues that almost kept our farm business from functioning. Winds that blew away a hoophouse cover, tractors that broke an axle, freezing cold turkey harvest days that left hands and minds frozen. I pushed myself and constantly suffered injuries; after processing 50 turkeys one day I couldn’t use my right arm for weeks because of an inflamed rotator cuff, I tore my right calf muscles carrying a 50 pound sack of feed and couldn’t walk for days, I fell off some scaffolding and busted up my ribs and couldn’t work for weeks. When I wasn’t incapacitated with pain I learned carpentry and built some structures, including a cabin that was supposed to be a retreat from all of this mayhem. But even that effort was steeped in stress and issues, and it turns out there is much work to do and money to spend to bring this cabin up to a code I didn’t know applied here. In any case, it turns out that wasn’t going to be how the story that begun in 2010 ends.
Instead, I received divorce papers from my wife a few days ago. Suffice it to say, it hasn’t been an easy past few years for either of us. I have never felt the level of stress that I have had in these years, and I certainly didn’t understand, going into this endeavor, how much of a toll it would take on me physically or emotionally, or how quickly it would erode a marriage.
If you are beginning a farm dream with your loved one, I don’t want you to end up in this situation. If you are trying to create a dream without pure communication between you and your partner, it can easily become a nightmare. I have my own issues, my wife has hers, but in terms of us making sense of this life we have lived together, this dream we have pursued together, without an open line of communication, it will all fall apart. If you are not on the same page about your vision and values, at some point they will split apart. You can’t be truly together unless you share yourself 100%, you have to bare your soul, and if your partner can do the same, there is a chance.
Airing dirty laundry is not something I will do here. I am more interested in the lessons to be learned, and the steps to take to grow and evolve. I’m not going to bitch and moan.
I don’t believe there is anybody at fault here in this situation. As human beings we’re all fucked up, to paraphrase the Buddha. For a long while I blamed myself and beat myself up emotionally. But that doesn’t help me grow and evolve into the next stage, and it isn’t particularly pleasant for anybody else around me for that matter. So I would simply like to acknowledge this new turn of events and move on. Everybody has questions but I don’t have many answers, other than a bit of advice. Truly open yourself up to your partner, and if they accept exactly who you are right now, that is true love. It can be romantic, it can be platonic, whatever your relationship is, openess and acceptance is key. How can their be love without those things?
So on this my 37th birthday, my nugget of wisdom forged from the fires of dukkha is to stay open. Don’t close off when the going gets tough. Don’t construct a shell when you feel the need for protection. Stay true to yourself, and be open about what you want and need. Otherwise how the hell can anyone know those things? We may think we are transparent, but in fact we are all mysteries to one another. Unlike the other beasts that roam the planet, we have language that we can use to try and translate the mystery that is I to the mystery that is you. That is a gorgeous beautiful thing about being alive.
After I received those divorce papers, my first piglets were born. Rain poured and wind raged the night after they were born, but with a sold roof and plenty of bedding, along with the warmth and protection of their mother, all five piglets survived and are healthy right now. In fact, they are roaming all over the place already. All endings are sad, but with each we find a new beginning.
Take care of yourselves. Don’t forget to breathe and smell the air.