When I came to Mary (an Amish farmer and frequent source of farm-wisdom disguised as humor) torn up over the losses of lambs during the bitter winter she said flatly, "Yep. If you've got livestock you've got dead stock."
Goodness was she right.
2014 has been a hard year. One of the hardest that Pete and I have seen in our nearly twenty years together.
I'm ready to hang a new calender on the kitchen wall. And I'm even more ready to throw the 2014 edition into the wood stove. Tonight. (Except out wood stove isn't hooked up yet, which rather proves my point about 2014.)
Because the past twelve months have been thick with loss, death, disappointment and failure.
The tragically unproductive garden. The prescribed burn that jumped the fire break. The Lyme disease - again. And mostly the loss of so many pets and so many farm animals. Far too many.
It's been hard. Very hard.
This fall as I dug up our potatoes (decimated by a cold wet summer and a hungry mole family) I burt into tears and sputtered something dramatic like "If we were the Ingalls family we would die!"
I think we found more farm debris and broken glass in the soil than we did Red Norlands.
It was depressing.
"The potatoes are a metaphor for my life," I said self-pityingly.
And that was how I viewed 2014. And exhausting effort for a pitiful yield. We tried. We did. And mostly we failed. Or that's how it felt anyway.
But then this morning as I sorted through the past twelve months of photographs I was struck - and struck hard - by the realization that my life is rich beyond words.
It took my breath away.
Perfect? Of course not. Far from it.
But rich and beautiful and blessed beyond measure? Yes. Oh my, yes.
This. This is my life.
Not that other story I keep telling.
The truth of this catches in my throat.
This life is foraging and hiking and toes in the creek. It's watching these kids grow up vibrant and alive as they write their own stories. It's sleeping in the yard and campfires in the woods and home-cooked meals. It is raising our own food and falling in love - one farm baby at a time. And it's friends and family and the best neighbors around.
It's the four of us, happy, healthy, and very much alive and we scratch out the best life we can.
This is what this year was about.
And yes, there were tears.
There was heartache, fear, grief, failure, and regret, followed by the promise to do better and know more the next time.
And even that is worth something.
So as I remember 2014 I will remember the grief and the abundance.
I will remember love, connection, and the line of these hills against the sky.
Happy New Year, friends. I count you among my blessings as I pin a new calendar to the wall.