Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Letter 2014

Greetings from Harrison Farm!  This has been a year full of blessings & challenges, and I am grateful for the wonderful people in my life!  For the first time since my early 20s, I have had some significant neurological struggles this year.  It is a humbling experience to manage this, and I am profoundly grateful for my family who keeps encouraging me, my friends who are extremely patient, and my amazing doctors at the Cleveland Clinic.  I am particularly fortunate to have Matt in my life, as he steadfastly accompanied me to every doctor appointment, developed his own protocol for managing my care, and used his background as a researcher to review every relevant medical study.  I recognize that managing headaches & seizures will likely be a long-term effort, and I am blessed to have an amazing support network of friends & family that empower me to enjoy life despite challenges!

My work at Jorgensen Farms kept me rather busy this year.  We hosted 50 weddings, along with 20 other events with which I assisted.  With as many as 4 or 5 events each week between April 5th and December 5th, my schedule was hectic and averaged 50-60 hours/week (for my part-time job!). In addition, Jorgensen Farms expanded its farm sales to Jeni’s Ice Cream, local restaurants (such as North Star Cafe, Hollywood & Third, and Alanna’s), as well as Whole Foods & other markets.  I am fortunate to have truly amazing co-workers there, and I have developed great friendships through the farm!  It is a pleasure to work with Matt, and I am sincerely appreciative of the opportunities I have had there thanks to my friendship with his mother, Val (who often reminds Matt that she picked me first!)

My own farm is an absolute joy to me, especially now that I have downsized my livestock herd to be more compatible with my off-the-farm commitments.  I only bred 30 does & 15 ewes this fall, and am returning to kidding & lambing in the spring.  After two years of being in the barn during terrible cold spells in January & February, I realized just how wise my grandfather was to plan for babies to arrive in March & April!  I also have Flirt the Horse, Cecilia the Donkey, 26 crazy chickens, barn cats Peppermint & Mask, and my notorious house cat Cash.  I lost both of my dogs this year, and find myself without a dog for the first time in my life.  I enjoy visiting with Grace the Yellow Lab of Jorgensen Farms, and hope to find a new dog in 2015.  I remain very close to my neighbor kids, Joseph (16) & Eliza (8), and they are a great help at my farm!  Joseph is very good with livestock, and he is slowly developing his own herd of goats.  I am blessed to have very good neighbors on Berger Road!

I tremendously enjoy my volunteer work with Ohio Farm Bureau, and I was re-elected to a second 3-year term as a state trustee at their recent annual meeting.  It is very engaging to work on policy issues relative to the farm community, and I have developed great friendships with individuals across the country thanks to the opportunities which I have had through Farm Bureau.  I will be traveling to San Diego in January for the 2015 American Farm Bureau convention.  The 2014 convention was in San Antonio, and I was able to combine that trip with a wonderful stop in Dallas to visit my brother Sean & his girlfriend Nicole.  Sean continues to teach, and he is fortunate to have a fantastic partner in Nicole.

My brother Kevin is still based in Philadelphia, and does quite a bit of travel with his band.  I picked up a “Nemesisters” tee shirt during a tour stop in Ohio, and I am very proud of his dedication to music!  My brother Ian lives just outside of Columbus, and is working for a company that maintains food service scales.  These skills have been a great asset to Blystone Farm Butcher Shop when repairs are needed!  Joe expanded the shop significantly this year, and it offers numerous products from other local farms.  There is a dedicated bakery now, and this keeps my step-mother Jane very busy.  My two younger brothers Mason & Josh both work at the shop full-time, and it is awesome to see their skills develop with the farm business.  I enjoy helping out with the quality assurance paperwork, as well as animal handling documentation.  It is exciting to see how this business has grown since Mother & Joe opened it in December 2004 as a very small on-farm custom slaughterhouse!

My grandmother turned 97 in May, and continues to do well for her age.  She is still very good friends with “The Colonel”, and they eat most of their meals together at the dining room of Sterling House.  Grandmother’s cat Carlotta passed away in early December, at the age of 19.  I am sure she will miss her pet, but a constant stream of visitors keeps her spirits up.  Her address: Ina Marie Harrison at 609 East Water Street #119, Urbana OH 43078.

In October I worked again at Quarter Horse Congress for my friends Carl & Kathy Wilkinson.  It was a busy month with weekdays at Congress & weekends full of weddings, but I enjoy assisting at their Western jewelry booth.  I am very excited to return to Denver in January 2015 to work for them once more at the National Western Stock Show!  They are amazing individuals, and I have learned so much from them about business & about life.  They have become family to me, and I am always in awe of the great people God has sent into my life.

My Thanksgiving was wonderful: lunch with Matt’s family, then dinner with the extended Harrison-Blystone-Link family.  I hosted a dinner that weekend for my “farm family” of kids that have worked for me over the years.  They are all doing fabulous, and their lives are full with school, jobs, spouses, and growing families!  I also got to see my very good friend Amy Bricker who was visiting Columbus from her new home in Florida.  Amy is like a sister to me, and it was awesome to be together for a visit!  I look forward to hosting my family again this year for Christmas brunch, then I will join Matt to travel to Michigan after Christmas to visit with the Jorgensen Family (a lovely group!)  On New Year’s Day, I will fly to New Orleans to meet my brothers Sean & Kevin and my step-mother Debbie for a celebration of Debbie’s birthday!  I am very excited for this!  Debbie has been a positive influence in my life since I was small, and she is an extraordinary mother to my brothers.  My parents were remarkable individuals, and I feel extremely fortunate that they gave me great step-parents!

I am grateful for YOUR presence in my life, and I send best wishes for a happy Christmas and a blessed 2015!

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