The month of May broke record rainfall for Western North Carolina. After weeks of endless showers, soggy boots, muddy dogs, watching the river rise and fall, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, the ground could not hold anymore precipitation. The raging Cane River crested its banks and cut through the farm, leaving debris, rocks, standing water and a small pond we didn’t have before. I found my vegetables flattened and turning yellow. My Swiss chard was in a tree and there were fish in the cover crop. Many farms in the region were submerged, washed out in total devastation. Homes have been destroyed and lives lost due to subtropical storm, Alberto. We are setback but are fortunate to be able to move forward. After some tears, whiskey and compost tea, the sun outmatched the relentless rain. With the strong hands and hearts of my employees and my better half, Aardvark Farm is springing back to life. The chlorophyll is returning and plants that were once sad and tired are standing tall again. It is disheartening to put your entire being into your work for Mother Nature to destroy it. It is defeating to be a healthy active human that becomes incredibly ill. Fortunately, the body wants to heal and plants want to survive. We are tougher than we think and the resiliency of the botanical world is inspiring.
A few weeks ago, I was hauling buckets of fertilizer, up and down the field, unloading 50 pounds onto each 200 foot bed, by hand, bag after bag. Rider, my pretend sister and co-farmer for almost a decade says “Hey Skelley, you haven't done that in 3 years!” Yet I was doing it without thinking about it. Last week, I walked into my family doctor without a cane. I received many encouraging words, hugs and high-fives when I stepped onto the scale. My color is also returning as well as my strength and resiliency. I am not healed but I’m well on my way. I require more sleep than I used to and am incredibly sensitive to any variance in my routine. I find that if I am kind to myself then my body will reciprocate with cooperation and appreciation. Farming is a challenge due to the many elements that are out of our control. The obstacles and heartache make the successes all the more gratifying.
It is hard to go through such a dramatic event and expect to be the same. People change just like the land evolves and rivers deviate to sometimes create a different path. I am grateful for the time and reflection this illness has given me. I have grown in compassion for myself and the understanding of the importance in being still. It hasn’t been easy to remember those lessons in the chaos of health and energy but there is always opportunity for growth and for that I am satisfied.