For a little while, I can forget. I can forget challenges with neighbors (we all have that one, if you are lucky, only one, that sees everything YOU are doing to make their life hard but have no self awareness about things you overlook). I can forget strained work & personal relationships (we all have one or two, unless you live in a hole). I can forget the feeling of being unsafe or imminent disaster that never seems to be far away (this has a clinical name that stems from trauma but I like to keep it simple). I can forget when I farm.
We don’t have a combine, or a grain silo or a back 40 acres. I sell fleece from our sheep , produce when plentiful, and eggs from our chickens. I don’t wear overalls and half the time I have my good work clothes on because “I’ve just got to check something.” White is NOT my friend.
But what if your farm was making you sick ? What if it was the thing that stressed you out , wore you down, made you anxious and you dreaded getting up every morning ?
Farmers mental health has been in the media a lot lately. Financial issues, activists, climate change, loneliness, isolation all challenge farmers. I listened to a wonderful, award winning speech by Senior 4H member Sydney Milne at provincial 4H weekend in May addressing the challenges of when there is no stall available to herd the pressures into. Or the farm IS the one hurting them. Where do we turn? the feeling of being overwhelmed by things we can’t control is something we have all felt in our lives.
I feel for them. They feed us the things we can’t grow ourselves and the pressures are making them sick.
“How can you spend hours out here?” ” where do you get time to look after all this?” I have to. I will be no good to you, my kids, my husband or myself if I don’t herd anxiety & trauma into a stall and close the door so I know it’s corralled for a while. And this time in the barnyard growing food for my family is what let’s me do it. But it’s not all about me.
It is also something I have seen first hand with my daughter and her horse as she battled crippling anxiety, post concussion syndrome, trauma and severe depression. We did in home hospital care with an amazing medical team. Her horse and the farm is a huge part of healing and her care, which the doctors encouraged.
Eventually, sometimes it’s 30 minutes sometimes it’s a few hours , I open the stall door re-enter the atmosphere of my life, and come in to the house tired, present, more whole, needing a tea, happy, available for my family and friends, always with a list of more to do tomorrow, and of course, with more stains on my pants.