An End and a Beginning

Today was the end of a big thing for Bethlehem Farm.

Because today was our last farm delivery run to our local customers. We recently announced some changes that we are making to our farm: A we’re making a turn.

You can read the official update on our blog, but the short of it is that we’re getting out of a raise and sell everything’s approach and focusing on sheep exclusively in our soon-to-be-smaller farm operations.

That change might not seem like a big deal from the outside so I actually want to let you in on a little more of the conversations about this shift that are happening behind closed doors.

For the last several months we’ve been navigating the (emotional, to be honest) transition to what we hope will prove to be a more sustainable lifestyle for our family.

The simple reality that we had to finally accept was that our bodies and hearts (and checkbook) were demanding change. We could not physically go on at the pace we were running. Our bodies have not worn the cares of life and business particularly well, and we often feel 20 years older than we are.

So this change is a big deal for us because it represents our desire to make room for other things in our family life. The farm has demanded so much that we didn’t have room for many of our other important life values.

So we’re trying to repair that imbalance. That’s the upside.

The downside is that it feels a lot like failure.

Because in a lot of ways, this is the laying down of a dream. Something we worked so hard to build to finally realize a full-time farming lifestyle. And many of the customers who have been so loyal to help us get there have become genuine friends, not just customers. The losses, right now, mostly overshadow the potential gains.

But then a trusted mentor shared with us a different point of view as we talked with him about these changes.

This is not a failure it’s a turn.

That had not been our perspective until that conversation. We’re trying to internalize the truth that this is only the laying down of one particular expression of a dream. We are doing this in hope that there are other ways of farming that may very well be a much more fulfilling way of life for our family.

If we only knew what that way looked like. I think this day might feel like more of a celebration if the path ahead of us were more clear. It is not. We know the next right thing and that’s about all right now.

As much as our expansion three years ago felt like a huge risk, this one feels just as big.

I can’t say that this particular last days would qualify for a slow motion, musically-inspiring movie montage clip.

Andy, our faithful delivery driver, ended yesterday washing eggs until 10pm after a day neck-deep in an off-the-farm job, waiting anxiously for the ground to dry up so he can get the last cutting of hay in the barn before his chief farmhand goes back to school.

He awoke to gray thunderclouds on day five of a persistent cold and gave himself to the frenzy of darting in and out of the pouring rain to deliver orders to front porches. The kind words and encouragement that he received from our customer-friends were mostly bouncing off and not really entering in. The weight of the burden of providing for his family wore over him like a shield.

Heavy, soaked, tired, sick, and more than a little uneasy about the future.

Limping, metaphorically speaking. We are limping over the finish line today. It seemed like a fitting finish for the farming lifestyle we’ve been giving ourselves to.

Until the rainbow appeared.

When Andy opened the cooler waiting for him on this particular customer’s front porch and saw this gift, he lost it. (He gave me permission to share this.) Tears of exhaustion and disappointment, mixed with gratitude, rolled down, and he sank down on his knees under that front porch to rest, to breathe and feel.

All of it.

As if the flowers (from her own garden) weren’t touching enough, this more-than-a-customer shared in her card a personal story about how our family had impacted her family during a difficult time in life.

A story we didn’t know until now. A story that made us see and remember that our work was not in vain. It mattered.

And so we end today feeling seen. And connected to a thousand other stories happening that we still get to be a part of.

We’re so grateful for this reminder that our story is still going. We’re just turning in a new direction.

And we look forward to sharing more of it with you.

Until next time…

 

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