Friday, March 23, 2018

How a city girl, gone country grieves (and raises cows): Human Business

 How a city girl, gone country grieves 
(and raises cows)

I met Kimberly through farming. She, like me, has been dropped into this life and is learning to love it just like me. She is a Christian, however, our pasts are nothing alike. I've asked her to share her story on my Blog over the next weeks or months or however long it takes. It is filled with much grief and loss but will hopefully make you laugh and smile and grow and grieve along with her.

The roller-coaster ride of this week has taken me to heights I didn't know existed and depths beyond my comprehension... above all it's taken me to a level of humility I never imagined.

We started the week Sunday with a short day trip from some friends that live in Ohio. They are both pilots now and they flew down for a day trip to see our farm, visit and take me for a ride over our ranch. It was an exhilarating day as you can imagine|! I've known these friends since early childhood and to have them part of our day just for a few hours was priceless. It took hours for me to settle down Sunday night!

Monday was, well, Monday with it's own set of challenges (as is always the case when coming down from an emotional & spiritual high). The week's events highlighted by the first day of Spring on Tuesday, which was accompanied by a few inches of snow. Like icing on the proverbial cake! We did get a lamb on the first day of Spring, so that was very exciting. Spring is very slowly springing, and we're on calf and lamb watch daily. We're also praying that the snow is done, my aching joints just about can't take any more winter!

Fast forward to Thursday. It was a full schedule day with farm market meeting, farmer's market event, and the daily grind of farm chores. As I have mentioned in my past posts, my mother of 89 lives with us and she is still pretty sprite for her age. We attribute her Irish heritage to her spunky-ness, although in recent years she's lost most of the sight in her left eye, most of her hearing, and her ability to drive. Otherwise she's just as conversational as they come and enjoys being part of any of our events. 

Yesterday during the last indoor market (from which she was absent this week) I  was conversing with some of the market staff about Mother. She would love to have something to do! She doesn't knit or crochet, and she loves to read, especially to children. In five minutes we created a job for her! Coming this Spring, she will be the centerpiece for Granny's Corner Reading Circle at the market venue there in Knox County on Thursdays. She was so thrilled you'd have thought she won the lottery! It's a great joy to see her perk up and feel her purpose, even at 89 years old. I'm very fortunate to be able to help her facilitate this and so excited to see how this grows!

After the market I was returning a call to a client who had previously ordered. The short story is he had a special order several weeks ago, the processor misread the instructions, and we went above board to facilitate his order in the last minute. This time his wife was contacting me to duplicate that order. We played a little phone tag earlier in the week as she seemed uncertain of how it all worked. I reached the client himself late yesterday afternoon to finalize the arrangements. He went on to explain the reason his wife seemed confused was she is fighting stage 4 cancer...

I caught my breath in my throat...

They were returning from the hospital in Charlotte, NC where they just learned her prognosis was four to six weeks...

Now I'm squinting my eyes and trying to stay focused (I'm driving at this time!)

She wanted to do something special for her husband and she knew he loved our beef and that's why she seemed confused...

What does one do with this information while driving and expecting this to be a conversation about a beef order? I slowly answered him with how sorry I was to hear this, that we would work something out, and that I would be in touch. I also said we'd keep them in our prayers. I was a professional as possible given the circumstances and when I ended the call, I simply burst into tears. Driving and crying, not a good combination!

As I discussed this conversation with my son who was with me, we both fell silent. It was a revelation. I said to my son, "we're not in the meat business. We're in the HUMAN business." 

What caused this young client of ours to tell me the details of his life, to share his very painful present? What made him feel like that was okay? We strive to connect with our clients; we recognize FEEDING THEM is a huge responsibility that we take seriously and we're very open about it. Whatever his future holds, in that few minutes of ordering his favorite cut from us, he felt connected to a normal circumstance in what has to be a very unnatural atmosphere. He held his tone solid too, that impressed me. He's accepted what is coming and for that I was inspired. 

Needless to say, this causes us to again re-evaluate our priorities. When folks connect with us like this, it affirms our mission. We continue to set solid steps into the future of folks' lives by responsible stewardship of the beasts from which they partake. It was extremely humbling and I look forward to 'meating' this couple face to face, mostly to hug them! I'm pretty sure it will be a very emotional moment, one I will cherish. 

It has surely been quite the roller-coaster ride this week... God is always busy keeping me humble.

Until next time, Kimberly


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