First- the duck ladies are beginning to lay eggs RIGHT as I returned from my trip! 60 eggs Thursday, then 120, 177 and then 250 today. Woot woot! It’s like they timed their beginning to seriously lay around my return. Awww, momma’s back! I’ll begin deliveries next week, and cannot wait to see all my co-op buddies and get those nummy eggs out to the people! My article arrived published in the latest Small Farmer Journal issue too, what an honor!
Now onto my more heavy part of this post. Don’t worry, it ends very well.
This may come as a little bit of a shock, considering my writing voice and the name of my farm, but for the past year I’ve been in a weird head space, wrestling with my self-imposed obligations, feeling extremely frustrated and downtrodden. I lost my voice and my confidence as I deferred, trying to please. In the process of engaging in this behavior over the past 4 years, I lost myself. I didn’t want to talk about it, I was very confused and stuck. I just kept soldiering on, pretending everything was ok because it seemed it must just be in my head, that it must be my problem, my burden to bear, a phase, a funk that I had to pull myself out of, on my own. I’m too DIY like that. But this method did me no good, and I was about to seriously snap right before I left on a 3 week trip to see family on Vancouver Island.
Last fall when my youngest sister Melanie visited us on the farm, she saw how stressed and flustered I was, what the flailing-around situation I was dealing with was actually like. She could also tell how I pined for our BC family that I hadn’t been with for over 7 years. She had faith that I was still in there, and just really needed a recharge, and she then convinced Andrew to take care of the farm so I could go on vacation for my Uncle’s wedding in March.
At the end of last month, I took off towards the Island in a rental car with one of my sisters and her daughter, heading out first on a bit of a detour to pick up our two sisters in Colorado (there are 4 of us girls.) Somehow Melanie had miraculously managed to reunite me with this sister who I hadn’t spoken with for over 4 years because of our differing/separatist views of how to approach animal rights issues ( I raise ethical animal products and she is a vegan.) Together with her darling daughter, we drove for 13 hours straight in the car to Colorado, talk about a previously insane proposition! I would also like to give a HUGE credit to this sister for intentionally changing her attitude and moving into a new positive place where we could reunite as sisters again. We agreed not to even try to hash over the past, and to move forward together in this fresh space and time. This experience was very healing for me, and I think for her too. (She just called me Snookums on facebook post trip, I think we are indeed in a whole new space! I just love her so much!!!) When we arrived in Boulder and picked up our two younger sisters, we made great time in the car. As kids, our parents would always drive to British Columbia like long haul truckers, and we certainly learned how to do that from them.
Arriving at the ferry in Vancouver, I was struck with a real feeling of home-coming. This journey to the Island is so nostalgic for me as it is where my Mom is from. She made it our second home by bringing us up to Canada many, many times during our childhood. After my sisters and I loaded onto the ferry and then wandered the decks, watching the massive ship move through the ocean and past the enchanting channel islands, the briny seaweed scent of the air brought tears to my eyes. The last time I was on the ferry was with my Mom. And here we were, without her, going to see the very closest part of her we have left, her family.
(This photo is from a family reunion in MN, in 2005 I believe. She was SUCH a dear, loving and giving person.)
Mom on her last trip to her homeland in 2007, after hiking up Gowlan Tod to see the gorgeous mountain and ocean views. How I miss her. Just seeing her hands makes me want to cry, let alone her victorious, beautiful, glorious smile. She passed away just 2 months after this photo. Life is short you guys, no matter what you think. (Thanks to Uncle Ryan for the pictures.)
Despite these mournful remembrances, I have to say: what a time my sisters and niece had on our trip! I was able to spend plenty of time talking with my Aunts, Uncles and Cousins; sharing our lives’ journeys, reflections, aspirations and adventures. Not to brag or anything, but I come from such an amazingly intelligent, thoughtful and fantastic family! I saw my Mom there in many of their faces and their ways of conversation. There was a near-perfect balance of celebration, relaxation, beach combing, catching-up type chats, deep existential discussions, music, cooking, hikes and tidal pool explorations. We stayed up late, slept in, ate like crazy. I was with my 3 sisters and my 5 year old niece almost the entire three weeks , and while being in a herd can be exhausting- everyone needs to work together- this was probably my most favorite aspect of the entire trip. I just LOVE my sisters! They are hilarious, kind, sweet, generous, opinionated…. just fascinating and awesome people. We are all on different paths, but we are definitely sisters and it makes me so happy to have had this intensive time to be together and in SUCH an extremely special place.
The weather during our time on the Island was absolutely gorgeous, sunny and in the upper 50s most days. It was impossible to not be happy there! The cherry blossoms were in the billions and making the air just glow pink, waxy and surreal magnolia buds were opening on the trees, millions of cheery Daffodils were growing everywhere like weeds dotting the lush emerald turf with brilliant yellows. The stunning arbutus trees, the fragrant cedars, the giant Sitka Spruce trees, the volcanic rocks to scramble across and the white ash colored silky sand at Beacher Bay, the almost neon green moss, prehistoric looking ferns, and the ocean-tumbled little perfectly round beach stones. Heaven.
Aunt Alana graciously hosted all 5 of us the whole time, and her home was definitely nicer than any luxury hotel stay would have been. Thank you again so much for letting us descend upon your space! While we came up for my Uncle’s wedding and that was a beautiful blast, the entire experience of being far away in my second home on the Island, being with family, taking a break from the farm and from my home is what brought me back to myself. I don’t know where I went, but I felt ME return on this trip and I feel revived. I am strong, I am smart, I am talented, I have good ideas, I am compassionate, I am ambitious, I follow my dreams. I am taking back the reins of my life.
Since I returned home, things have been a bit tumultuous here as I barged back in with pure honesty. And you know what? I was greeted with love and a desire to change. We are moving in a very, very, VERY good direction together. All I can say is if you feel you are losing yourself, seek fresh perspectives, take some space and time, maybe even get some help. Then be open and honest with yourself and find your truth (thanks Uncle D!)
I also want to thank Dawn of Sailor’s Small Farm for inviting Mel and I over for coffee and treats, what an amazing experience it was to connect in real life, as she said it’s kind of crazy how bloggers can get to know each other, then to actually meet up is like meeting a new but old dear friend. What a lovely place she has full of family history, and check out those adorable cupboards in the farm house kitchen!