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Counting Blessings

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Four and a half years ago, after a tumultuous separation and divorce, I was blessed with the opportunity to move back to the farm where I was raised. The house was in good repair, thanks to various family members who resided there over the years, since my parents moved into town. Although those family members were blessed with the skills to modernize and improve the old farmhouse, it seems that none had the skills needed to improve the grounds on which the house sits, and so they were mostly neglected. 

The fruit orchard and lawn had become home to colonies of gophers and squirrels, and rats and mice ran rampant through the outbuildings. The fruit trees were mostly untended and badly in need of pruning and upgraded irrigation. And the mountains of junk, old furniture, broken appliances and discarded garbage left behind by former tenants were overwhelming. The burden of cleanup was daunting, but I took it on, even realizing that every task, every obstacle, every setback, would strengthen me, bringing me closer to the day when I could sit back and appreciate all that I had accomplished. 

I began by cleaning out decades of stuff left behind by everyone who had ever lived on the farm, including my farmer-mechanic dad who hoarded every oil filter he ever changed and broken part from every tractor he ever worked on. His shop was a veritable vintage auto supply but was also thankfully stocked with every tool I would ever need. It was very difficult going through and getting rid of his junk, but I was able to find some of his old friends who had use for much of it. But all the deceased refrigerators, TVs, microwaves, exercise equipment and various trash left behind by others got hauled off to the dumps in the old Chevy pickup my brother had salvaged and gifted to me.  

Cleaning up the rodents and varmints took a little more patience and cunning, but I can now say that the fruit trees are safe and the lawn is thriving. Since I have been back on the farm, the ancient water heater has been replaced, a new roof put on and a new septic system installed. I have replaced dead fruit trees and planted new varieties, including avocados, and landscaped and planted vegetable as well as several flower gardens. And, of course, built a chicken coop to house my transplanted hens and growing flock. But the biggest coup of all is the 20-plus acres surrounding the farm, which has just this spring been planted in cherries. 

With all those necessities tended to, I am now able to focus on fun projects. Last summer, I had a sweeping pergola built over what I call My Serenity Space, and the new year has provided me with the means to take on many projects around the farm that aren’t really necessary but aesthetically rewarding. The problem is that I find myself impatient and out of sorts because they are not getting done fast enough. The prairie-gridded windows I special ordered for the old tank house/potting shed renovation were the wrong ones and had to be reordered, so my contractor has to find other jobs while we wait. The raised beds for my new pottager garden lay unfinished in the rain, and I’m waiting on the repurposed, vintage brick to arrive so I can finish the floor under my new pergola. My potting area is in constant transition while I move things around to accommodate my various projects. And so on and so forth.

And then, of course, this COVID thing has put a serious damper on everything. But while I fret and complain about my trivial trials, I have to stop and think about what this time really means. I think about my friends in town who are bored and going stir crazy, and I am thankful that I have so much to do here on the farm to keep me busy. I think about my friends who are searching the grocery stores for eggs and food, and I am thankful that I am able to grow much of my own. I think about my sister who has to have her temperature taken every morning before she can take her post inside the scary hospital, and I am thankful that I don’t have to leave home to go to work. I think about my brother, who is operating on a single kidney, and I am thankful that he has been such a strong and helpful figure in my life the past few years. I think about my 87-year-old mom, and I am thankful that she is healthy and strong, and still with us. I think about my friend from high school in ICU and pray that he will recover from this horrible scourge, and I am thankful that I taught school for enough years to build up an immunity to every nasty bug that comes along. 

Yes, I think about all those who are compromised and in danger, and I am thankful for my good health. I think about those who are feeling lost and afraid, and I am thankful for my faith and all the strength it has given me. I think about all my fun projects on hold, and I thank God for all the sacrifices my parents made so that I am able to live on this blessed little farm with the possibility of a thousand more projects. 

Hopefully sooner than not, we will all look back on this time and be able to say that we did our best to stay positive and that something good came from it, for each and every one of us. Hopefully it will help us to recognize our blessings and to realize what is really important to us. I wish you all peace and hope in this trying time. Stay safe, stay well and count your blessings.

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