It. Is. Finished

Habits are a funny thing. We are coming up on our third anniversary of the farm. Every week for those three years, roughly from Thursday noon through Monday morning I’ve been on the business end of tools and machinery building out the infrastructure. In addition to that there was the whole raising a kid and working a real job. There has been little to no down time. Very little rest. A friend once asked me how long I thought I could keep it up. Answer: 3 years, evidently.
I told my wife while we sat on the front porch, just after my 50th birthday, when we were contemplating the purchase of this place, that it would be a life consuming project. She has also had her share of projects – the biggest being painting the inside of the house, sealing the wood fences and decks, chicken chores, and harvesting while I burned out power tools. After all it was a dilapidated foreclosure, the only infrastructure being the house, barn, and broken down corral for all of the toy horses of the previous owner. I’m not sure she understood the magnitude of its scope. It CONSUMED our lives.
The habit groove wore itself into my brain pretty well. When I turned the last screw on the greenhouse I found myself in a state of disbelief that that three year chapter had come to an end. Sure, projects never really end, but this was the end of what was needed in order for us to see the farm as “complete”. The remodeling of the house, deck building, fence building, chicken coop building, pig pen building, observing field building, dog run construction, driveway covering, organic garden building and growing and harvesting, greenhouse acquisition and building, grow room building, painting, scrubbing, moving furniture in, installing appliances, heaving anything and everything – none if it lite in weight – a never ending spiral of money down a hole – not to mention the mental fatigue of planning things, designing things and thoroughly trying to envision it so as to not make stupid mistakes, had finally come to an end.
So far, a couple of weeks into it, I am starting to actually let myself believe it. I have a synapse worn in my head that says that when I put on overalls it is going to mean frustration, heavy shit to be hauled, and pain. I can’t even count the number of loads I have filled my truck with and then unloaded, along with dozens and dozens of trips to the Depot and the ranch supply stores. Day after day, week after week how many post holes have I dug in three years? How many feet of fencing? How many tons of aggregate and compost and soil have I had delivered and then had to move? . That isn’t the case any longer. How many times have I cut myself, bruised myself, dropped shit on myself and yet gotten up, cussed like a sailor, and continued on anyway? How many building and construction skills have I had to learn, knowing I will probably never use them again?
One of the things I had always wondered in life, was the outside limit of physical and mental endurance that someone can handle. I know that people in horrible conditions can endure herculean amounts of suffering and pain all of which would make this project pale by comparison. But what about a task you set before yourself? What is the upper limit of what one person can really do? After all, people climb mountains and hike thousands of miles or run marathons to try to discover that in themselves. In my case, I know that now. I. Am. Exhausted. My limit has been reached. I climbed the rope, rang the bell and now I will sit for awhile and heal. It helped me slay a lot of demons along the way. The amount of physical work I took on shows just how vicious the voices in my head have been and how much energy needed to be expended to exorcise them. This was an effort more about mental health than physical prowess after all. The demons are now corpses and they will not be missed.
Yesterday, unbelievably, I actually went out into the greenhouse and just sat there zen-ing out. I have actually gone out to the pens just to see the critters, not to repair or change something. We have been out harvesting, with nothing left to have to do but harvest. This morning I drove into the nearest town that has such a thing, and sat in a shop, had coffee and read the news. What a concept. All the while though, I had to catch the thoughts in my head that were telling me that I had to get back, that I couldn’t just relax, that there was something that had to be built or taken care of. Its an amazing thing to look at all that the farm now has on it and think, “Wow! I built practically all of it”. There is still a barn to build and a ranch hydrant to install, some pasture fences to put up in anticipation of our cows and goats, but the fundamental pieces of the farm that will allow us to grow most of our own food is up. It. IS. done.
So I have to now work on changing the habit. Let myself simply merge into it and let the place heal and grow and provide. The biggest reason is that the place kind of broke me. Physically. My hips and shoulders scream at me every day. I use a cane to get around in the morning until I loosen up, and my heels raise holy hell if I go barefoot. I’ll bounce back, I always do. After all, that is what life consuming means. Time for JAZ Farm to just be the farm, not a place where I do penance and beat myself to death for my sins. It has been transformed from an abused plot in a grass field, to a small farm that will be off grid despite that setback. It is the place that we hope to now play and live and escape from the cacophony of the world. I think I will go put on my overalls, go outside, and do………. nothing. What a concept.

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One comment on “It. Is. Finished

  1. ejanea says:

    I do know that feeling. And by now, I know that the amount that I can achieve is age related. As I get older, I need to pace myself. I have only an acre and an old house, but at almost 68 years, I am slowing down noticeably. I am healthy and living off my land, and enjoying it, but I am slowing down in recent months.

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