Life Lessons From The Farm
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
Part One: Working With The Seasons
I’d like to start off this post with something totally unrelated to the post, but related to Root & Sprout, because this past Friday, Ashley and I did something really exciting... we were on a PODCAST! Our good friend, and Intuitive Life Coach, Rebecca Anhalt, hosts an amazing podcast called “Align & Thrive”, and she asked us to be guests on it! I’m pretty sure we both blacked out and don’t even remember what we said because we were so nervous, but it was amazing! (Fun fact: my voice is so much louder than Ashley’s, that while sharing a microphone, we had to move it as far away from me, and as close to her as possible… and I was still louder... Becca says I have a voice for theatre!)
We were so honoured to be invited to speak with Becca about Root & Sprout, and to share our journey with her and her listeners. She’s such an inspiration to both of us -- she left her job in Mental Health a few years ago to work from home doing all kinds of incredible things, but essentially, she provides support and guidance for people who are committed to living their life aligned with their authentic selves, and she is soooooo damn good at it you guys. I can’t even put into words how much she has helped me over the past few years -- she is like this loving, supportive, but also strong and firm, presence that believes in you so much that you just have no choice but to believe in yourself!
Anyways, I’ll stop gushing and let you check her out for yourselves if you’re interested! I highly recommend following her on social media, if only to elevate your feed, because I personally believe social media can be used as a tool to positively influence our lives, and trust me, your life will be better with her social media presence in it.
Oh, and she will be releasing the episode we were on THIS WEEK!!! Eeeee! Stay tuned to Root & Sprout and we will let you know as soon as it airs!
Okay, back to my post about a very important life lesson I’ve learned from farming.
I think for me, it was important for my personal growth to leave the farm for a few years and come back to it as an adult, to fully absorb the benefits it has had on my life. It’s so easy to take something for granted when you’ve always had it, even when you know it’s important, it just seems so much clearer once you step away from it and come back with a fresh perspective.
Something that has become clearer and clearer to me in the last couple of years, has been that as humans, we are a part of nature! I know, groundbreaking stuff. But really, if you think about it, we typically view ourselves as separate from nature -- we live indoors; we move through the world in cars, boats, and planes; we try to fight our instincts in so many ways; we destroy the natural world so that we can have more “stuff” -- we seem to look at the world as split into two spheres: the human world, and the natural world. But the more we embrace the fact that we are just as much a part of nature as the plants and the animals (we are animals, after all, even though we don’t often acknowledge it), the more connected we will feel -- to ourselves, to the planet, to the universe, and that seems like a pretty positive thing to me, because if we feel more connected, we feel less alone, and then it’s not about “us versus them” anymore, because there is only “us”.
Whew, okay, maybe went a little too deep there, but now you know how I really feel.
Sooo, with that, I’d like to share one of the lessons that I’ve learned from farming that has had a huge impact on my life so far.
WORKING WITH THE SEASONS
On the farm, we are forced to follow nature’s schedule, and it feels really… natural. There is this beautiful rhythm when working on a farm -- with times of steady, intense work, where we literally work from the time we get up, to the time we go to bed, there are times where we work a “normal” amount and also take time for play, and then there are times where we slow down and do less working and more resting.
I’m specifically talking about grain farming in this post, because that’s what I know, and because farming with animals is a “whole other ball game" (thought I'd toss a little sports idiom in there to "throw you a curve ball"... Sorry about that, I've been watching a lot of baseball the last couple of days and for some reason I find it entertaining to talk like I know things about sports).
In the spring, it’s time to make plans and begin taking action -- the earth is waking up, and so are we. Does anyone else feel this sense of renewal in the spring? Like you just start to feel the energy building inside of you, and you have a little skip in your step; the sun’s warmth can be felt on your skin again, and you feel like you’re being fueled back up. This is when it’s time to plant the seeds -- both literally and metaphorically. On the farm, we work hard to get the crop in as quickly as possible. Spring is a fresh start, a clean slate, a time to set your intentions for the year. Plants are sprouting, animals in the wild are giving birth, water is everywhere -- the earth just screams LIFE! (Not sure if you could tell, but I really love spring.)
In the summer, it’s time for growth, expansion, and play -- everything is green, lush, and thriving! Flowers are in full bloom, baby animals are learning how to “adult” -- partly by watching their parent(s), and partly through play. The sun is at its strongest, the rain falls heavily, and the plants and crops grow rapidly. On the farm, this is when we check on the progress of the crops, work on different outdoor projects, and take some time away from work to play and enjoy our shortest season (because realistically, winter takes up half of the year in these parts, and our real summer is pretty much just July and August, which FLIES by).
Being able to spend time in the sun while in and near water is one of my favourite parts of summer! I absolutely loooove water, it just makes me feel so at peace and at home.
Fall is for harvesting what you’ve grown, taking stock of what you have, and preparing for winter. It is a season of abundance -- it’s when we gather together to eat and celebrate the nourishment the earth has provided for us (in North America, we call it Thanksgiving, a tradition which actually began with the Indigenous people, who had a harvest celebration long before Europeans came to this continent). On the farm, this is by far our busiest season -- we work all day, every day (as long as the weather permits), to get the matured crops off the fields and into the bins for storage before winter comes. It’s also a season of preparation, as humans and animals begin to ready themselves for the long winter ahead. My favourite parts of fall are the beautiful colours, the golden fields of wheat, the sunsets (FYI: Ashley and I are obsessed with sunsets and regularly send each other photos of them), and eating meals in the field as a family.
Winter is for slooowing down. This is a time for resting, restoring, nurturing, reflecting, and going within. The earth goes into hibernation mode, and, to some extent, so do we. The cold forces us to spend much more time indoors, which provides us with more time to go within ourselves; it is a time for introspection and rumination. On the farm, we work much less, and most of our work involves either moving snow, moving grain, or paperwork.
This is often a difficult time for people -- not only is it difficult to spend time outside when it’s extremely cold, and scary driving in poor weather conditions, but it’s also hard to stay physically and mentally healthy. I think that slowing down is difficult because we are expected to do SO much all the time, and so we rush from one thing to the next, just desperately trying to keep up with all of our responsibilities, and we neglect our inner worlds. So when winter comes and we have less sunlight, and we aren’t able to spend as much time outside, and our bodies naturally want to do less, we try to fight it -- either because we have to (it’s not like we’re allowed to just cut back our hours at work during the winter and still get paid the same amount), or because we don’t want to sit with our thoughts and emotions. It’s not easy to just be when you have always been taught that it’s what you do that is most valuable. But it seems like, when we begin to actually see ourselves as a part of nature, that nature is telling us that it is time to go inward by significantly limiting our outward movement, and if we look to other animals for cues, we see that they also slow down and rest much more during the winter.
I personally always struggle in the winter -- less so since accepting my body’s need to slow down, but I certainly still find it very difficult. I have Clinical Depression (treated with antidepressants out of necessity) which worsens during the winter no matter what I do, and I know many others whose mental health also worsens during the winter, whether they have a pre-existing condition like myself, or experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. Winter is so challenging in every way -- physically, mentally, emotionally -- and really pushes us outside of our comfort zones.
A concept that I am absolutely fascinated with though, is “Hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah... say it out loud for fun, you won't be disappointed) -- a Danish word which roughly translates to a general feeling of coziness, comfort, warmth, wellness, and contentment. The word has transformed into a lifestyle trend, practised especially during the winter months, in which you create an environment and atmosphere for yourself that provides you with “hygge” (feel free to say hoo-gah out loud every time you read it), and therefore makes the winter months more bearable. Since learning about hygge, I have done small things around my home to incorporate more of it into my life -- fuzzy blankets, cozy sweaters, slippers, a small electric heater that looks like a fireplace, lamps that give off a warm glow, houseplants, rugs -- anything that gives me that “hygge” feeling. I highly recommend trying this out this winter if you haven’t already -- hygge up your life! One more time, just because it's the best...
Now, I’m fully aware that in most jobs working with the seasons isn’t possible, but I do think that even trying to incorporate working with the seasons into our personal lives could be beneficial. Since I’ve begun allowing myself to flow with the seasons more, I have noticed a positive change in myself. Especially in the winter when I feel like I need a lot more down time, I try to schedule my life accordingly, and I try to be more gentle with myself for taking the time that I need. Because I know that once spring comes, I will feel more lively, more social, and more productive.
Of course, working with the seasons may not work for everyone, everyone is different and everyone needs to do what’s best for them. But, maybe some of you will read this, and it will resonate with you, or at least intrigue and you, and maybe your soul will be as grateful as mine has been since I started working with the seasons.
Do you already work with the seasons? If you do, let me know how you feel about it! I would love to know if you have any other insights about it, as I still have so much to learn!
Was this a new concept for you? If so, how does it make you feel? Would you like to try working with the seasons in your life?
As always, take care and be kind to yourselves, Root & Sprouters!