The Dignity of Failure

I’ve been on this piece of land for eight and a half years. It feels like a quarter of that time. When scrolling through old pictures, the follies and desperate learning experiences roll in sequence, with the occasional successes haphazardly sprinkled amongst them. This morning, I’m sitting by a rockin’ fire in the wood stove because Molly and I finally secured a cord of dry, seasoned wood. The person who delivered it didn’t seem to have an anger management or murdering problem and the wood wasn’t sopping wet, outside of the rainstorm that arrived once the pile landed in our driveway. This felt like a success. I’m about to go out and feed breakfast from a stash of a few tons of blue-green hay that’s stacked inside a barn, with walls. Beats the old method of storing a few bales a time inside our horse trailer. Especially when you have an emergency with a horse and unloading six bales of hay is necessary before you can drive your injured horse to the vet. The horses are in stalls, not under a cattle panel bowed between pallets and covered with a tarp. Sure, we have a two year-old colt going on his fourth month of stall rest, cocooned in a hernia belt after almost dying multiple times from a twisted intestine and subsequent surgical cite infection. And I was kicked by said colt in the face and the hand the day after Thanksgiving. Then decided why not double down and get long-over due carpal tunnel surgery while off work. When Molly had an extensive shoulder surgery a couple weeks before Thanksgiving and was still living life in a sling when this decision was made.

Sometimes it’s easier to look around and see the mud, the sagging fencelines, the weedy spaces previously known as gardens, the guaranteed morning gift of vomit or cat poop on the laundry room floor, the sliver of mountain peering through a relentless explosion of sapling growth… But, in this post-holiday space, we’ve emerged more whole than we entered it. Our community has held us tight these past couple months. Friends in sneakers have cleaned horse stalls, trimmed the hooves of bucks in rut (imagine the Sweetums muppet except he pees all over himself, along with other excretions, and you need to give him a pedicure), friends have bucked firewood, cooked for us, done our laundry, unloaded multiple tons of hay. My dad sacrificed his own health when one of our bucks, with a history of surly anti-human activism, likely took out his MCL. And, on crutches, Dad was back two weeks later to help us again. The love and work and heart that our people have given us is relentless. This place has absorbed it thirstily.

With this we get to enter 2020. Riding the crest of poor decisions, earned wisdom, slow progress, and resilience that can only be bourne out of humility and community buoyance. Gratitude is too light a word to explain our appreciation for the patience shown to us by this farm and the people who love us through its care. We are small in the expansion around us and deeply comfortable as just one component of what keeps this place afloat.

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