Anxiety in the Home-Stretch

I fully admit that I have been suffering an increasing level of anxiety and stress during this home-stretch of buying a farm. The USDA’s program for beginning farmers seeking to finance the purchase of a property for farming is a grueling process and since passing the 200th Day it’s become more difficult for me─largely because the delay is causing quite an upheaval in both my farming operations and my family-life. It was a relief to receive word on Monday that the Appraisal of the Hive-House has finally been scheduled, and will occur on Friday, May 11th at 11. Once that report comes in next week, Closing should follow within a couple of weeks. Yaaaaay!

The FSA’s financing process reminds me a little of a video game, in that─you can’t advance to the next level until you have successfully completed the level before it. Each step in the FSA’s process is crucial to advancement and to reaching Closing Day, and it’s not over until you’ve signed those papers and received the keys to your new farm. My whole experience with the Swinging Bridge Farm taught me a valuable lesson.

I suppose having to go through this process twice has contributed considerably to my current state of perpetual tension. This all would have been over months ago if I hadn’t bet on the wrong horse the first time, but I’ve been much more careful this time around and I’m confident we will soon be scheduling Closing Day.

That knowledge does little to assuage my anxiety regarding Closing though…. So much hinges on this property sale that it almost chokes me up to think about it. My kids need this home. I need this home; Runamuk has reached a point where I don’t feel I can continue to farm without adequate infrastructure and a permanent home-base. My days as a landless farmer have reached their limits.

What’s more─buying a farm and moving a farm are similar to buying a home and moving a family, but way more intense because there’s livestock and farm equipment involved. And because in order to keep my farm income coming in so that I can pay this new mortgage I’ll soon have─I need to ensure that the farming continues even through the move.

To top it all off, there are a few nay-sayers in my midst who can’t seem to fathom how anyone could possibly buy property on an income generated from farming and have deemed my plan destined for failure. That’s just insulting; I wouldn’t have gotten this far if I didn’t have some idea what I’m doing! And besides─my loan has already been approved: TWICE!

I look forward to proving the nay-sayers wrong, and that’s all I’ll say about that.

Before the 200th Day I wasn’t necessarily counting the days to Closing, I was just keeping a tally of the process; but once I passed day 200 I began counting. This has been a long process for me and my family, and I am mentally drained and exhausted. With the tension mounting in the home-stretch, I find some consolation in knowing I made it through all the days before today, and I will get through today too.

I am no stranger to anxiety, and have been careful to take care of myself: watching my caffeine in-take, drinking herbal teas, taking Valerian capsules twice a day, getting fresh air, spending time with friends, playing my banjo and drinking beer or wine (all things in moderation!), and most of all─keeping busy.

With my first farmers’ market of the 2018 season happening on Saturday, the same day my first round of new bees are scheduled to arrive, and then 50 new pullets to go pick up Sunday evening─Runamuk’s farm season is about to kick off with a bang this weekend, so keeping busy is not a problem. There’s equipment to prep for both bees and chickens, soap to make, soap to wrap for market, a new sign to make to hang in the Runamuk booth at market─not to mention I need to assemble all of the things that go to market with me: tables, tent, shelving and display pieces…the list goes on and on. Keeping busy is no problem at all, lol.

Once the Appraisal comes in Closing should happen within 2-3 weeks, so we’re really close now! Check back soon for another update from the farm, and be sure to tune in to Facebook Live to watch me sign that mortgage contract on Closing Day!

Open and honest


Loyal readers who have been following my blog over the years may have noticed that recently my posts have become more open and honest. Always before I tried to keep to the lighter side of things; I’ve struggled with how much of my personal story to share online for the whole wide world to read. But now…I find myself caught up in a period of transition and personal growth, and being open and honest has become crucially important to me.

honestyI don’t tell these stories here to gain recognition, to gloat, to whine and complain or to beg for help and assistance. I write because there’s something inside me that compels me to do so, and I write about what I’m passionate about. That’s it. That’s the whole reason this blog exists: because I’m a bit OCD and I have a very real need to express myself through writing.

It’s really how I best communicate; as sad as that is to say. I admit that I have difficulty just talking to people. Its probably my greatest flaw. I’m sure it stems from my traumatic childhood…like so many other people I struggle with anxiety and depression. I’m emotional and sensitive and sometimes have a hard time coping with social interactions.

But I learned years ago to let go my grisly past and to focus on the here and now. I learned how to cope with my depression and anxieties by getting outdoors and being active, listening to music, watching funny shows or movies, and even practicing yoga. I cut back on the amount of caffeine I was drinking, and learned to respect my emotions for what they are.

Once upon a time I wouldn’t have just typed those words here for the world to read. Depression and anxiety are difficult to talk about. But like so many others I was personally affected by the sudden passing of Robin Williams, the comedian and actor. And maybe it seems strange to base exposing myself online because of the death of a movie star, but sometimes you just connect with someone. Steve Irwin’s passing also affected me personally because I identified with Steve’s passion, his zeal and love for animals and wildlife, and his dedication to teaching people to share his love for wildlife. And I loved Robin Williams because he made me laugh, and laughter sometimes was the only way to get through the day. I imagine he felt the same way, and it fills me with sadness that he lost the battle with his demons.

I’ve been going through this phase of personal growth this year and the lessons seem to have intensified in the last few months. It’s been  struggle, I admit; it’s been painful, stressful, humbling, and exhilarating all at the same time. It seems to me that the Universe put these challenges in front of me to teach me a lesson, to prepare me for something more. Leastwise, I hope it’s not for nothing!

And so as part of my personal growth I am making some changes in my life, and one of those changes happens to be  “Transparency on the blog”.  I see the mission of this blog as 2-fold:

  1.  An effort to share the true story of one beginning farmer. Yours truly.
  2.  To share what I have learned in hopes of educating and helping others.

I intend to dedicate more time in 2016 to the blog and writing in general. Starting now, I’ll be sharing more of my stories and adventures with you here; all of it─the good, the bad and the ugly. All of the beauty and joy of farming, along with all of the struggle, stress, dirt, muck, trials and tribulations that comes with it. No more holding back. I also intend to write more beekeeping articles and put together some resources for beginning farmers that might prove useful.

Moving forward I want to be open and honest in all aspects of my life, but especially with myself. This is ME; this is who I am. I’m not perfect. I struggle with anxiety and depression, I’m obsessive and compulsive-especially when it comes to my farm; I’m an intense person─a workaholic─I’m passionate and driven, emotional and sensitive; I feel things more intensely than most. I follow my heart and take risks in hopes of accomplishing my goals. I’m quirky, kind and giving, sometimes too much so and it has caused me pain and grief in the past.

But I’m done dulling myself down for the world; I’m done hiding the best parts of me for fear of how I will be received. Personally I like who I am. It is my intensity, my love and passion, empathy and sensitivity that propel me to overcome my anxieties, self-doubts and fears so that I can serve my community and serve the farm and the land that I am responsible for. Take me or leave me, this is who I am.