Eighteen months seems like a very short amount of time in 52 years of my life. But honestly, they have been some of the most productive of my life. I have learned more from farm living in the past 18 months than at any other time I can remember. When I think about what I just said it sounds nuts, especially when I think of all that I have done. But I get it. Not only has the experience been different, but I am mature enough to recognize what has happened.
Too often in life we are just going and going and do not take time to reflect. I think that is why I can say the past 18 months have taught me so much. Over a different period of time I may have learned more, but I may not have realized it. Thus, have not able to learn from it. All that has changed…
What Life at Sugar Water Manor Has Taught Me
How I Learn Best
Sugar Water Manor has not just taught me how I learn, but how I learn best. And then taking it a step further, how to apply what I’ve learned. I have always been an advocate of reading as much as I can, taking in as many opinions as I can, and then writing my own book. There is a right way for each person and what might be best for one person may not be best for everyone else.
I am also a hands on and visual person. So, with social media sites like Instagram and YouTube, it is easy to peruse and visualize so much. Then, there are all sorts of groups and boards on Facebook and Pinterest that you can look up and ask questions. I have found that my learning is about asking questions, taking it all in, applying what I’ve learned, and then taking notes. In some cases, the learning has been year over year and by trial and error. I learn not just by reading and listening, but also by trying and yes, making mistakes.
This is a huge one. Nothing about farm living is fast; everything requires care and everything has its own issues. Just remember they say Rome was not built in a day. Patience comes in a couple a different ways here, short term and long term.
We are here 18 months now and when we moved in, we had short term and long term goals. You know a couple of raised beds for a garden…Well, I had no patience for that. So, David built me 12 raised beds and we tilled 4 fields. I quickly learned that it was more than waiting on the beds to be built as every step required patience. I had to learn patience and plan things out.
BUT, my greatest teacher in patience is my Zoe; my sweet deaf rescue Great Pyrenees girl. We did not know she was deaf until a few months after we adopted her and she is one of the best things ever to come into my life.
She has taught me such patience, but with unconditional love. She requires me to stop, slow down, and work with her. We gain an understanding and a tenderness that we are both comfortable with. I have to take time with her to make sure she sees me, as I cannot just yell for her. She is my mentor in patience.
How to Enjoy Myself
Life on the farm at Sugar Water Manor is busy and it would be very easy to get overwhelmed and throw in the towel. I could just say to heck with it all and just work and do the regular house stuff. But, for one thing, that is not me and for another, it would be no fun. But yes, I get overwhelmed and that is when I slow down and enjoy myself. As David reminds me, as long as the animals are watered and fed, everything else can wait. And often everything else does wait.
If I am not enjoying the task at hand, I stop and find a way to enjoy it. If I have to, I walk away and come back later. Yes, there are super hard things and things that are not fun or pleasant, but we have to do them. So, I find a way to see the good in what I am doing. A task as simple as sweeping the kitchen floor each day is enjoyable to me now. I have great satisfaction knowing the mess that is created is mine and it was created out of doing wonderful things like preparing a meal.
How Not to be Afraid
Okay, I am still afraid of a lot of things…like crazy afraid and so nervous of doing something wierd. But I have to not be afraid and do it. You will often hear me say on Instagram Stories, “If not me, then who”. This is so true. If I do not buckle up and do it, often, there really is no one else.
I have learned not to talk myself out of things I am afraid of by thinking of the good at the end. The biggest accomplishment on this front is the fear of failing. Yes, I have failed big time since I came here and I will fail again and again, but it’s what you have to do to learn.
When David was racing around the world in triathlons we used to say that the real race is won when you get to the starting line. I see the same thing here, because I am here and I am doing it. I have fears like snakes, but I have to go back to the last place I saw the one in the garden to tend to my plants, so I cannot be afraid. But remember, it is okay to be afraid as long as you are actively doing something about it.
How to Ask for Help
This is big for me. I am that ” I cannot ask for help” person. But I cannot do it all. I try and I try, but I get tired and there are some things that simply require two people. Then, there are those things that require a professional, period. So, I have learned to ask for help.
Now, help can come in many ways; the simplest being information. I ask for information all the time in groups and asking people direst questions. But even harder is asking for help doing things you know you can do yourself, but just can not for a variety of reasons. Whether you have too much to do, are exhausted, or simply need a hand to help motivate you, ask for help.
I have a list that is on-going on the weekly calendar. It’s projects that need to get done and people who are around know to look there. Now, my even bigger issue with asking for help is that I am always asking others how I can help them. This adds to my plate, but brings me joy. In the end, it is my personality to be the helper. But I have learned to ask for help and pay for others to assist to make me better.
How to Pivot
I have never been a good pivoter. I had my path and things to do and got them done. People would always tell me how flexible I was with all the moving we did; that is way different. Living here at Sugar Water Manor, I have had to make major pivots based on all of the above as well as bigger things, like Covid 19.
If something is not working or something has to change, I have to pivot. When a client needs work and I am in the garden, I have to pivot. If Covid 19 hits when you are to open in 3 weeks, you have to pivot. If you had plans to weed the raised beds and a dog decides to get a nasty rash, you pivot.
Making the change to pivot can be on little things like a vet trip or weeding to big things like not being able to open your lodge and store. I am in the middle of pivoting on the store and lodge now and rethinking everything and figuring out my next move. Pivots are good. They throw you off and make you think and work harder.
It was been a fabulous 18 months and we have many years to come. The years will be filled with learning, but with the six above under my belt, I am set for success.
What life lessons have you learned lately?
I am a home cook that does things my way. In my kitchen, I make breakfast, pack lunches, prepare snacks, and cook dinner. During the week, we eat real food that is homemade, organic, and local. On the weekends we do explore more of our local restaurants. I bake my own bread, juice fresh oranges every other day, and make my own kombucha and other weekly favorites.