CHANGES, CHALLENGES, COURAGE

As I reflect back on this year, three words come to mind – CHANGES, CHALLENGES, AND COURAGE. 

The changes in my life this year have been unbearable at times.  The loss of Murray, the love of my life, my soulmate, my rock has turned my life upside down.  I asked myself how can I continue on?  What do I need to do next?  How can I go at this alone?

The challenges were many.  Do I keep the farm?  If so, do I continue to grow flowers?  Will I be able to handle working full-time AND raising flowers and pumpkins?  Do I continue to cash rent the rest of the land?  Will I be successful at any of this without Murray? 

I felt like a line from Against the Wind by Bob Seger  – “…deadlines and commitments, what to leave in, what to leave out.  Against the wind, I’m still running against the wind.  I’m older now but still running against the wind.”  The wind that I was facing felt very fierce at times.

I have lived on a farm since I was 5 years old.  But Murray was the farmer.  And he was so very good at it.  He was also very good at documenting and keeping records.  Without me even realizing it, he gave me the instructions and guidance that I needed to carry on.  He also gave me two wonderful sons who have stepped up to fill the big shoes left by the death of their dad. 

And so we planted flowers, and pumpkins, and squash.  The flowers did beautifully and the squash were quite plentiful.  The pumpkins on the other hand, not so good!  We are still learning!!!  Thanks to so many people – my cousin Jim who tilled the field, Kevin for farming the rest of the acreage, Jill and Vern for doing whatever I needed and all the neighbors who have been keeping an eye on me to make sure I am ok. 

Thank you to all my wonderful customers and friends!!  I sold out of flowers almost every day.  Your kind notes, hugs, and prayers helped me navigate through such a hard time.  I am eternally grateful to all of you.

And I discovered that when I was in the midst of the flower field, I felt an amazing sense of calm and healing.  A sense of reassurance and encouragement that this is where I need to be and this is what I need to be doing – raising flowers. 

I have always been the kind of person who likes to do things myself.  I am sure my family will agree that I am very independent and perhaps a bit stubborn!!!!!  So as I started planning for next year, I decided that we needed to be able to do more things ourselves, like tilling the gardens, seeding down areas, and clearing brush.  And we needed to expand and grow more!!  We needed a utility tractor.  After searching the internet for a good used tractor, I decided the best way to go would be to purchase a new one.  And so I mustered up my courage and contacted Prairie State Tractors in Lacon, IL.  I was so fortunate to speak with Blake, who so kindly and patiently worked with me to get me exactly what I needed.  This was delivered on October 8!!!!

The boys and I have big plans for next year.  We will be moving the pumpkins to north of the house and using the entire field in front of the house for flowers.  There will be grassy walkways to help control the weeds, make harvesting easier, and make a beautiful flower field.  I also want to do lots of landscaping with several flower beds around the farm. 

With Thanksgiving next week, I am thankful for so many things.  God has certainly blessed me in so many ways.  I am so thankful for the 43+ years I had with Murray and for the life that we built together.  I am so thankful for this farm that I will continue to steward in his memory.  I am thankful for Corey, Ryan, Audrey, Allison, Lainey, Ella, Nora, and Henry, the absolute best sons, daughters-in-law and grandkids that anyone could ask for.  And I am so thankful for my sisters, Pam, Carla, Kathi, and Angie.  I could not have made it through this year without them.

I miss Murray terribly.  But I am looking forward to next year and bringing the farm to life in his memory and honor.

Wishing each of you a very happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time,

Pat

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