The last four weeks of my life has centered around ducks. I really didn’t mean to go from 7 ducks to 28 in less than a month but “hey, things happen right?”. We were on nest watch 2018, (as our Call Ducks hens were sitting on their eggs) when the brilliant idea to take home 6 ducklings from our local Tractor Supply popped into my head. We were actually at the store to purchase an incubator for some of our fertile Pekin eggs but 28 days was just too long for me to wait for ducklings to hatch. To be honest we weren’t even sure if the Call Ducks would be successful. So, little peeping box in hand I arrived home with my first batch of ducklings and set them up in our bathtub.
It was just a couple days later that I realized I needed some additional females for our adult Pekin duck males. My poor girls were just overwhelmed with the overabundant ardor directed at them and needed some relief from those two Don Juans. We got up early last Saturday and took the hour drive to a poultry auction with the task of finding our guys some new ladies. There was only one cage of females and they were dirty and definitely needed some care. The compassionate and competitive part of my nature squashed any of the practical aspect in my decision making process, I knew without a doubt that lot #3134 would be coming home with me. With a steely no-nonsense expression I raised my wrinkled index card with number 143 written on it and battled another bidder until for $7 a piece those 4 scraggly ducks were mine. In addition, I also took home 6 more ducklings and a Welsh Harlequin drake to solidify my status as a crazy duck lady.
In farming as in all endeavors it is best to be practical and think things through before acting. There are, as in all decisions made, the consequences of those actions. From the beginning of this Smith Farmhouse experiment I have brought home animals before we were fully prepared for them. These choices have contributed to some crazy, pull it together moments I won’t soon forget. I am learning to slow down and plan more thoughtfully through the details. It is best to do your homework before the you take the test if you know what I mean. Doing so makes the process less stressful for everyone. Farming has taught me to plan wisely with the future in mind and not entirely with my emotions in haste.
With that said, there are those special times where you have to listen to your heart and take a chance on a long shot. If you do, you might find yourself a lucky duck.. or four or even more!
I recently pulled into my driveway to find my four Pekin ducks napping in a perfectly spaced out row. For a person such as myself who likes things orderly, I was first delighted and then equally dismayed. I had the realization I would definitely not get a close up without at least one duck head popping up and ruining my shot. Knowing time was of the essence, I quickly grabbed my phone (with the still shattered screen) and snapped two fast shots before the ducks became aware of my surveillance and decided to move on to their next activity.
Farmlife is amazing, so far it is all I ever dreamed it would be and more, it is also a constant battle to stay focused and organized. There is always a new problem to solve, a mess to clean and something that needs my attention. It is not much different from the days of homeschooling my three kids when they were children. I remember the feelings of inadequacy and unpreparedness I had then. They often rose up within and had the capability of sending me into a spiral of excessive activity and frenzy in an attempt to overcome the fear of failure that always seemed to be chasing after me. I admit it…I struggle with wanting to be perfect, but I know I am not. I hate making mistakes… but I have made many and I still do… a lot. I wish I could tell my younger self to relax and breathe; to not worry so much about perfection but to embrace and enjoy the process.
The lessons I have learned from my many failures, mistakes and blunders have been so valuable in my journey to get to where I am today. I no longer allow fear to restrain me, I am taking risks and pursuing the endeavors I have put off for so long. I can’t take back the time wasted in mindless worry and regret but I can look forward to what is ahead : being a grandparent for the first time, finishing my first children’s book , growing our farm and whatever other new and exciting adventure comes our way.
I may have ducklings in my bathtub, a farm dog sleeping in my bed and straw showing up in the strangest places but; I finally got all my ducks in a row.
I got the picture to prove it!
Buttercup has to hurry up wherever she goes;
she misses the flowers right under her nose.
I was recently asked a question regarding what kind of legacy I was leaving to the next generation. This simple inquiry of life’s purpose forced my mind into a hyperactive state of self-examination and evaluation, which honestly overwhelmed me. I can’t remember a time in my life I wasn’t pursuing a way to accomplish some type of great achievement. I know now this compelling drive was fueled by a desire to feel valuable, which meant most of my life was engaged in an exhausting race to attain self-worth.
Moving to our little farmhouse has allowed me the opportunity to step out of the always discouraging pattern of striving to achieve “Something Great” in order to feel worthwhile. My pace of life is slower on the farm and I am able to see the beauty around me much more clearly. There are new discoveries daily which inspire a natural passion and creativity to flow from a place of authenticity. The quest for self-worth has been replaced with a journey of joy in expressing the awesome wonder that surrounds me.
I now have the time to write and illustrate my children’s books; I am able to pour myself out; and into a worthwhile expression of my heart. I enjoy being creative but I have been so often discouraged by feelings of inadequacy in the past. My current motivation is different than before I had my farm, I actively choose to participate in what is truly valuable instead of pursuing the feeling of importance. I once chased after ideas trying to grasp at doing “Something Great”; I am now choosing to live “Something Great” and just BE……………. Be grateful, be joyful, be loving and kind. I want to notice the flowers in front of me and magnify the wonder in that simple moment. It may seem a small thing but if it is my legacy to pass on, I will be greatly satisfied .
A couple weeks ago I hurried inside to grab my iPhone so I could get a picture of one of the animals doing something funny or adorable, a normal thing I do quite often I confess. Unfortunately, right after taking the photo, I set said phone on top of a slanted rabbit cage and walked away. I am sure my thought was to complete whatever task I had been doing before I had been distracted by a silly farm animal a moment before and then come right back. I don’t know how long it took before it hit me, the stop dead in your tracks, gut clenching realization that I had done something really stupid. I ran back to where I had left my phone to see it lying screen down on the rocks where it had fallen.
For a just a split second I held on to the hope it could possibly be unscathed and reached down to retrieve it. Oh but there it was, the inevitable consequence of my lapse in good judgment: a spiderweb configuration of cracked glass across my screen. A deep sigh escaped from the pit of my being and then came the stages of grief in quick waves of anger, denial, and acceptance. It is an annoyance to be sure when something we use so often is lost or damaged but when it is the result of carelessness there is a distinct saltiness added to the wound.
It has been my nature to steam roll through things in the past, to rush and get things done. In setting my mind towards being productive I have missed so much along the way. When I decided to document here the experiment of following my dream, I purposed to slow down and pay attention to the details. I don’t enjoy failure, but I am learning there is a beauty in the perspective you can gain from it. A few days after my phone incident as I was waiting (somewhat patiently) in our truck for the windows to defrost, the warmth of the sun created a familiar cracked pattern to cross my view. I captured this photo of the cracked ice window with my shattered phone to remind myself that the right perspective can reveal to us, the true beauty in our lives.
A year ago I had never experienced the deep love and friendship a dog can bring into your life. Sure, I’ve heard a dog is man’s best friend and I had seen numerous movies highlighting the bond between a pooch and their person. I am not an insensitive person by any means, I even teared up at the end of the movie “Homeward Bound” when Shadow limped down the hill to reunite with his boy, more than once I might add. Despite all this, the dog /human relationship had eluded me. If I am honest I will say there were even occasions I rolled my eyes towards those who willingly endured the hair, slobber, barking, and destruction in their lives without even the sense of annoyance on their part. I quickly learned that you have to be careful with holding onto your opinions to tightly.
Last October my daughter gifted me with a Great Pyrenees puppy for my birthday, and that not so tiny ball of white fur has grown and grown, not just in physical size but in the affect he has in my daily life. I have learned to move much slower and to contemplate my surrounding as I go. As a California native I was used to doing everything fast and getting things almost immediately. I grew up living in the fast lane, literally; I like constant motion but I don’t enjoy life moving so fast you don’t have time to enjoy the scenery. There is so much to be missed in a culture of immediate gratification, patience isn’t seen as a virtue, it is a means to cause frustration to those who want their answer or response, right now thank you! Raising a puppy requires patience, and a lot of it. For me, it also meant standing in the rain and cold while he learned to go to the bathroom outside and the diligent repetitive training it takes to have an obedient and responsive companion instead of an unruly terrifying beast.
This past year my patience has grown immensely and the bond I share with my dog has altered the perspective on more than a few of my former opinions; more importantly it has realigned my overall way of approaching life. Farmdog and I take a walk around our property daily, we don’t hurry, we stop and smell the flowers and he thinks it is important to smell everything else as well. We notice our surroundings and investigate the little changes that happen daily. Tonight as we sat at the top of the hill overlooking our little blue farmhouse and the valley beyond, I was overcome with the simple, gratifying contentment of being quiet and with doing nothing but enjoying the company of my furry friend. I am pretty positive we won’t be the subject of a heart warming book or movie but learning to slow down and enjoy the simple joys of life has impacted me deeply. I encourage anyone out there who is caught up in the busyness of life and needs to slow down; take a walk with a dog. It might not change anything but then again, it might change everything.