A few weeks ago I was asked by the National Young Farmers' Coalition for permission to be featured on their blog. I was delighted at the idea, and gave them full permission. At that time, Mattie was heavily pregnant and looking great. I was full to the brim with plans for how I wanted 2013 to play out, and was excited for everything. Two weeks after the NYFC asked me that question, Mattie became gravely ill, and then died 7 days later. The blog post on NYFC was posted today, (click highlighted words to read it) and the irony of my words are cruel. How things have changed since I wrote that...
Life totally threw me for a loop.
When I lost Mattie, I lost more than a cow. I lost my business. I lost my income source. I lost all monetary security. I should have been emailing herdshare members this week, getting everyone back on track for the year's schedule. I should have been sterilizing jars, storing milk in the fridge, milking my cow, feeding a calf... Instead I can only shake my head at my own words I wrote to be publicly displayed on the blog of a large organization. My cow is gone. My plans are gone. I feel like I went from "farmer" down to "hobbyist" in a span of one week. Feel like what was once obtainable and possible, is now suddenly beyond my grasp, and I can only wistfully look at it from afar. I cannot afford to buy another cow, and don't want to buy another one just yet. But at the same time, I now have to face the fact that this farm needs to take a completely different direction if I cannot immediately continue with the dairy business. I had everything revolving around the dairy. Mattie literally made everything run. Her milk went to herdshare members, it fattened my meat animals, it fertilized my pastures, it made my cheese, it would have fed my bull calves that were to be raised for draft work.
Now that she's gone, I have to do something different. Something completely different. I feel like someone just pulled a rug out from under me. I'm left stunned, and wondering what on earth just happened. I have no idea what I will do this year; I'm sure something will come eventually, but for the moment I'm sort of wandering willy nilly in my mind... "What do I do now?" I have some ideas floating around in my head, but for now I'm still brainstorming.
What would you do, if you were me? Any advice for a farmer who has to start over?