Seasons of Overwhelm

We started off this last summer growing season strong. I started a ton of seeds starting in March and had high hopes and lofty goals for the garden. In addition to the already established raised beds, we planted a huge field of corn, beans and squash and although I was convinced it would not grow, Mother Nature proved me wrong and it took off beautifully. As everything started coming in, I thought about everything I would can. Sauces, salsas, green beans, corn, potatoes…I would also ferment everything I could! The larder shelves would be filled with the bounty of our efforts and we would be all set for the coming winter.

Any guesses on how much of that food got preserved?! Zero. None of it. We did our best to eat through the fresh harvests and put plenty out on the farm stand. While technically nothing went to waste (the chickens, turkeys and compost pile were all on the receiving end of a good bit!) I do still have over 50 gallon bags of frozen Roma tomatoes to make and can sauce, soon as I can find the time. Corn that we didn’t eat fresh or sell went to the animals. Same with the green beans and everything else that piled up. Our beautiful potato harvest? I left them out on a table in our basement under lights and they all turned green. Peppers rotted in the fridge while waiting for me to find the time to process them. Seeds started for the fall garden still sit in the basement having been unkept for weeks.

Trying our best to follow the concept of “do more” and to slowly build and add on to our homestead, we thought we were doing good by adding one new thing a year. The first year was dedicated to the gardens. Second year we added laying hens and goats. In this, our third year, we added meat birds and turkeys that we processed ourselves (turkeys have yet to be processed, that’ll hopefully be this weekend!) But slowly building on also meant more stress added each year. Todd and I both work full time off the farm. Overwhelm started setting in when we realized that although we are slowly adding on, each year brought new challenges and additional responsibilities while still only having the same amount of time. We had reached our capacity. Every day, it seemed to get more challenging just to get the basics and bare minimum done. Once those tasks were complete, there was little time left for anything else. Our homestead suffered as well as our relationship with each other and our family. Months passed by with little to no time spent cultivating what means the most, family. While it is so hard to not feel like we have failed, I have to do my best to hold on to the fact that we still accomplished so much this year, and we are actively working on building back the foundation that supports our most treasured asset, our family. While we still have work to do this season, we are looking forward to a break in which we’ll be able to spend time together.

On a positive note, I published my first cookbook, we launched our farm stand and processed 50 meat birds on our homestead. The morning of our first processing day I felt like there is no way I can do this! After having prepared myself for months, I was terrified. Once we started working, it became easier and my mindset shifted from “I can’t just kill an animal” to “what a blessing to be able to fill our freezers.” I only wish that I could have had that same mindset throughout the season. Instead of “look at all this food wasted” to “what a blessing to have been able to eat fresh produce and supplement the flock with the rest.” From “I have failed” to “I have grown.”

Mindset is so very important when it comes to living this life. The simple life that we strive for becomes complicated when our mindsets get thrown off track. Prioritize the to do list and check it off one thing at a time, and that to do list needs to include time for yourself. Set aside the time to do something that brings you joy and recharges your soul and do not forget to just breathe! If you’re anything like Todd and myself, asking for help is one of the hardest things to do but it is actually a sign of strength. There are people in your circle and your community who have been in the same spot as you and willing to lend a hand. Practice gratitude by focusing on the positive little things throughout your day. Yes, you’re feeling overwhelmed but dang is that coffee good. Feeling like you just can’t breathe? Stop and re-focus. Feel the sunshine or the chilly air on your face, take note of the smells in the air, the colors of the sunset or the sounds of your surroundings. Take notice of your feet planted firmly on the ground and take three deep breaths. Focusing on the positive can help to shift your mindset when it feels like everything is going wrong.

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