Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Summer 2017 at the Harrison Farm

Summer always goes by too quickly.  When I was a child, I knew to expect my grandfather's annual pronouncement as soon as school ended: "Well, summer break has started, and 4th of July is just around the corner, and then it will be Labor Day before you know it, and you will be back in school, and then it will be winter, and it will be cold."  Virgil Harrison was correct -- the summer always passes by far too quickly, and every moment should be treasured.

This summer I had the pleasure of working with four lovely young ladies as my interns: Julia, Jaclyn, Serina, and Kaylyn.  Each one is a rising senior in the department of animal science at the Ohio State University, and they each have a very bright future.  They are now back to school and back to their academic routines, but we made a LOT of memories this summer.  Our Friday Fun Day adventures included visits to a horse farm, the Ohio Statehouse, the Ohio Supreme Court, a pig farm, an alpaca farm, a row crop operation, an urban restaurant serving local foods, a business focused on embryo work in cattle, COSI's Farm Days, and the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  I am sincerely appreciative of all my friends who opened their farms & businesses for us to tour.  It brings me a great deal of joy to work with these young people as they develop their skills.  Thanks to their excellent help, we were able to move our farm forward a great deal this year, as we expanded the herd and hosted more events.

I am incredibly grateful for all the wonderful people who have participated in our on-farm yoga sessions this year.  It is humbling to know that visitors want to come to experience the farm, and few things give me more joy than sharing the farm that I love with others.  I can quickly get emotional when I start to think about all the good people who helped to make our yoga classes possible.  When Dana & I decided to try this collaboration last year, we had no idea how fortunate we would be this year.  Initially, we anticipated hosting 5 sessions of yoga in 2017 (after 2 fun classes in 2016) . . . As of today, we have hosted 22 classes so far this year, we have 18 more scheduled, and we are still booking private parties!  I am terrifically appreciative of all my friends who have supported this venture through helping with the registration table, promoting us on social media, assisting as goat wranglers, and encouraging me every single time I got overwhelmed by the wonderful problem of hosting 40+ yoga classes at the farm!  

Over the years, most of my friends have met my neighbor & "junior farmer" Joseph.  My friendship with this young man has meant so much to me.  I can still vividly recall the day he walked up to the farm at age twelve -- with his dog Max in tow -- to ask about getting a job.  Since Joseph was home-schooled, he was able to spend a lot of time at my farm over the next several years.  He earned enough to be able to start his own herd with two bred does, and developed that to a herd of sixteen goats.  Joseph graduated in June, and departed in August to spend the next two years on his mission trip.  I purchased back his herd of goats, and they are now settled in at Harrison Farm.  I am so excited for the adventures that Joseph will have as he serves as a missionary, but it was hard to say goodbye to him.  I am incredibly grateful for our friendship, and I treasure all our memories of working together in the barn and visiting around the kitchen table in the farmhouse.  Joseph always enjoyed the chocolate chip cookies -- and we had so many great conversations about goats, and family, and politics, and life.

The day that I said goodbye to Joseph also happened to be the day that Marissa moved in to the farmhouse.  I could not be more excited that Marissa will be working with me over the next year!  Marissa was one of my interns, and she has decided that she wants farming to be her career.  As she finishes her degree at OSU this fall, she will be living & working on the farm with me.  My life is already exponentially better in the three weeks she has been at the farm: I was able to attend a board meeting for Ohio Farm Bureau without having to run back to the farm to do chores at night, I got to take a 24 hour mini-vacation to visit my new friend (and fellow goat farmer) Alissa in Cleveland, I have started attending yoga classes as a participant instead of a goat wrangler, and I have even been sleeping more than 6 hours a night!  And things are going to keep getting better: my former intern Lori will also be staying at the farm this fall as she pursues her teaching certification.  It is an incredible luxury to know that I will have others helping me at the farm, after having managed the work solo for a long time.

My grandfather was right that life goes too quickly.  I am filled with gratitude for everyone who has been a part of moving the farm forward this summer.  For so long I have believed in this farm and its animals, and I have had so many crazy dreams for what I thought the farm could do.  I do not lose sight of how blessed I am to now be surrounded by people who see the beauty in the farm and who are helping make those crazy dreams possible.  I am working harder than I ever have, and it is rewarding to see the opportunities that are arising for this farm that I love.  As Virgil Harrison would say, "this is living."