Father’s Day

The farm is typically open on father’s day to the public for farm classes and goat hikes. It is super fun to see so many families celebrating their Dad or Grandpa on the farm. Some folks have made it their Father’s Day tradition. Others we have welcomed many times before for various events on the farm. It fills us with joy to see so many familiar faces and that we have built a farm community where people visit regularly and find peace and fun in the farm too. Thanks to those to chose to share the day with us and the goats.

Even with the joy and busyness of the day we both found our thoughts drifting to our dads and missing them! Eric’s dad and my dad both live in Michigan. I grew up on the east side of the state and Eric grew up on the west side of the state. Eric and I did not meet until we both worked at a Veteran’s Hospital a few miles outside of Chicago. We quickly became friends over our shared outdoor experiences growing up in Michigan and our love for running and Bell’s beer:)

After the long and hot day of working on the farm we settled onto the farmhouse porch to take a break. We started reminiscing about our dads and our childhoods in Michigan. The conversation circled back to both of our dads’ work ethic. We wondered if we would have achieved the dream of the farm if we would not have witnessed our dads (mom’s too!) that worked like crazy and set those examples for us to work hard. I personally do not think we would have. 

My dad was a refugee when he finally made it to the U.S. from Eastern Europe just after the end of World War II. He was just a little kid who did not speak any English and had spent his entire childhood living in refugee camps and fighting to stay alive. He did not meet his dad who was in a prisoner of war camp until he was 9 years old. His story and that of my relatives on his side of the family is harrowing. He faced numerous challenges both during the war and growing up in the U.S. as a foreigner. But he NEVER gave up.  He learned english, graduated from the University of Michigan, married my mom and started a dental practice and family. Through those experiences he never became hardened as a person. He taught me to love the outdoors and included me on his sled dog adventures (his greatest passion). He encouraged me to take risks and enter sled dog races against adults as a kid! He never assigned gender roles or treated me like a “girl” but instead encouraged me to participate in the rough and tumble sport of sled dog racing. Often times I was covered in mud or snow and usually frozen:) I also think these experiences shaped me to be who I am today and for that I am grateful. 

Eric’s love of the outdoors began in childhood too. He went hunting and fishing with his dad.

Some of his fondest memories are not being able to sleep through the night before he knew he was going fishing with his dad in the morning. From the time Eric was 13 and his sister’s were 12 and 6 his dad was a single dad. Eric’s dad also never assigned gender roles to Eric. Eric watched his dad cook and care for he and his siblings. I believe these experiences made Eric the nurturing, kind, and amazing cook that he is. If you are lucky enough to be Eric’s friend (and have him cook for you) you know what I mean! 

I am glad that we took a moment to be grateful and recognize the gifts we were given this father’s day from our dads. We know that we are very lucky to have received these gifts and that many people struggle with this day because of loss or many different reasons. If that is the case we are sending you the biggest hug today and peace. 

Big Challenges

I have always been fascinated with the emotion of fear. Why are some people able to push through the fear and others cannot?  At times throughout my life I have allowed fear to lead the way and at other times I have been able to take fear’s hand, quiet the fear and move forward into the unknown. There is no way as human beings that we will not face fear. Sometimes I find myself wishing that fear did not exist but I also recognize the biological necessity for it. Our ancient ancestors never would have survived if they did not have their “fight or flight” response when chased by a wild animal or anticipating a threat. We are fighting our biology when we push fear away.

The rhythm of grazing and milking that the farm brings this time of year allows me to sink into my thoughts. The repetitive and daily nature of these tasks allows me to have time to think in a meditative way. I feel fortunate for this time to problem solve things on the farm, dream up new ideas, and just think about things that I’m interested in. I am still accomplishing many things and moving in a very purposeful physical way but there is a stillness that I appreciate tremendously. My old professional life was filled with noise, stress, and traffic. The farm and  self employment carries its own kind of  stress but one I would not trade.

During this time on the milking stand my mind wandered to the subject of fear again. I ask myself why I have ben feeling slightly off the last few weeks. My inner critic chimes in to say “what do you have to be fearful about?” “You are sitting here milking a goat!” I listen to the milk hitting the metal bucket with its familiar sounds. I listen to Clover, the goat’s breathing as I milk her and the sounds of birds that fill the farm’s skies. My inner critic softens and I realize the things that bring me so much joy also scare me like tall grasses, grazing goats, and trail running.You see one of my biggest challenges has been overcoming lyme disease and its lingering symptoms. When I finally emerged from my sickest time with it my first instinct was to flee the farm and it’s lush wild environment. When those old fears emerge again I often find myself wanting to flee. But, what I was able to think about that morning while milking was that there are TWO parts to the flight and fight response, not just flight. I am glad that I did not give in to the feeling of wanting to flee. That I chose to fight through the fear and stay the course on the farm.  That I chose to fight for my love of nature an not become afraid of it. 

I hope whatever your big challenges are that you consider the option to fight through it. I am glad that I did.