There is a David Viscott quote that says, “the purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give it away.” I think my gift has always been to be of service. I spent my late teen years, twenties and thirties working as a Blind Rehabilitation Specialist and teacher. My favorite memories of that time was working closely with families in their homes who had just given birth to a baby who was blind or visually impaired. I felt a big sense of joy when it seemed I had an impact in making their life just a bit easier. That work brought me to farming as a way to counter balance the big emotions that I experienced throughout my days working with kids and families. Nature and animals have always reset my nervous system. Over the last decade in my forties I feel like I have worked on developing my gift of service by opening the farm to children and adults. Many visitors have expressed to me that the farm is a very calming place for them. I needed that reset in nature all those years ago and I continue to need it to feel grounded and happy. Through this experience, it has became clear to me that there is a human need to connect with animals and nature. During that same decade we worked toward building an Animal Welfare Approved dairy on the farm. With the help of cheese from our goat’s milk that we created right here on our farm we built community through a shared love of local food. We have always felt that cheese created by a real person’s hands from animals that are loved and respected is nourishing to your soul. We started to offer farm classes that teach the skills that took us years to learn and continue to share those with others both on the farm and to other organizations. Our latest roles have been as consultants to other small farms who want to start something like we have. This has been very satisfying to me to share this knowledge. This farm knowledge was earned by making so many mistakes I cannot even count them all! I am still happy to share our triumphs and setbacks as a way to help others achieve their farm goals. It is encouraging to me to know that there will be more sustainable farms in Illinois to counteract the huge industrial ones that sometimes harm our environment and animals. It feels like all the struggle was worth it. Through all the ups and downs of farm life and the many shapes this farm has taken, I feel most proud to be working toward my certification in Animal Assisted Therapy at almost 50 years old. I can’t wait to offer this unique service to my community. I have seen first hand the power of nature and animals to heal. There is no doubt in my mind that the reason my grandfather, who survived WWII raised pigeons in his backyard was a way to heal his trauma. Or how my dad who was also deeply affected by WWII and spent a good deal of his childhood moving from refugee camp to refugee camp spent 55 years raising sled dogs and connecting with nature. Nature combined with animals is powerful medicine for us all.
Speaking of animals and nature we have numerous goat hikes and soap making classes scheduled on the calendar through May! The first cheese making class of the season will be June 1. If you have a gift certificate from the holidays and would like to join this class send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find tickets here for classes and goat hikes: Baby goats will start arriving in May! Check the website often as baby goat snuggle sessions will be added often as we get an idea of how many of the little stinkers we will have this season. Oh! And 50 pounds of soap scrap is headed to the Eco Soap Bank this week. Thank you for all of your soap orders to help make this donation happen.