New life

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.

 

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One thought on “New life

  1. Dear Nephew Andrew, with whom I share the same date of birth, separated by twenty six years. It seems you are coping with a century of pain, the likes of which I have never known, only for me to observe a thin outer shell, now broken, that details a “yoke” laid over the necks of oxen to pull the wagon like your great grandfather’s photo of 1888, an overwhelming burden of of pain and suffering, first alone, then in tandem, and now alone again, which is like the runny yolk that cannot be returned to its safe “container”. Two things tore at my heart as I read your statements. One, I feel like I have lost Khaiti and that feels like an entire galaxy of starlight just fading away from me. I cannot speak for the “clan” or any other person, but you get high marks for shooting at the moon. She is such an extraordinary person and your life has been so enriched by knowing her and caring for her and for your shared enterprise. I am sorry that part of your life has ended. I am your flesh and blood relative, but she was a gift that was beyond description. So that is over. The second thing that I felt as I read your words was that in the midst of that realization that the journey was no longer a “shared” journey, is the power and strength and agility of your spirit to survive and to claim lessons learned in the midst of wrenching pain that has covered you in mind, soul, body, and spirit. You are loved even as you have loved your partner, your farm, your land, your livestock, your Living the Dream multi-faceted adventure that stimulated the hearts and minds of all who knew you both or even separately. I take heart in that you are able to reflect openly about it as well and you have set proper perameters to limit the discussion that could produce seeds of bitterness and regret that need not be nurtured in this forum. Your restraint of the negative observations, when everything screams inside of you, “I want vindication!” will serve both of you well. Both of you have incredibly special and deep thinking friends who know more about the value of your quest to respect the land out of which the first ball of dirt, Adam, came and where we all will ultimately end up as dust and bones to dust eventually. But the world can never take away the supreme happiness that your indefatigable spirit wrought as you wrote about each of these dramatic moments of hanging on by the skin of your fingernails to make a farm enterprise work in this day and age. You have inspired us. You have educated us. You have produced something good by working at it, when the easy way out would be to sacrifice your integrity and not try to do anything that was healthy for your customers of farm produce from eggs to meat, meanwhile fighting the powers that want to limit people’s ability to think for themselves. YOU have not failed. You have done more in the last three years to do something extraordinary than most people do in the thirty they’re given. We love you both, Andrew. We will stand with you in every way possible to walk through this valley. Your friend, and one who respects you in so many ways you’d think I was your favourite dog! 🙂 Sincerely, Chuck French, West Java, Indonesia Please keep the kettle on for coffee next time I’m in country. Hugs and All our Love in that dreadful place, so mixed, between Heartache and Hope. We love you.

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