After all, you have to do a lot of tough things on a farm - physically, mentally, emotionally. If you're not tough enough, you won't survive it.
As Kristin Kimball so eloquently puts it in her book, 'The Dirty Life:'
"A farm asks, and if you don't give enough, the primordial forces of death and wildness will overrun you. So naturally you give, and then you give some more, and then you give to the point of breaking, and then and only then it gives back, so bountifully it overfills not only your root cellar but also that parched and weedy little patch we call the soul."
Some days, weeks even, I don't feel so tough. Some days my parched and weedy patch of a soul feels overgrown with burdock and thistle.
Like this week for example.
This week with the sweltering humidity, the flies, the stinging nestles burning my arms while I hack away at the burdock and thistle.
This week with the early morning phone call from home to tell me that one of my laying hens, a Barred Rock, has been fatally assaulted by a predator, my sweet girl bleeding to death in the coop surrounded by her terrified flock while I slept peacefully in my bed.
This week when nobody goes where they are supposed to - the alpacas, the chickens, the cows.
This week when first check on the pregnant dams yields not a romping newborn, but rather a tiny, stillborn baby with glassy eyes that will never see the valley.
This week when I pray for the baby in my dam's belly, anxiously watching for movement, a sign that this baby will be born alive.
This week when the last call of the day is to the vet to pull a tangled cria out of her mother's womb, a white female who will never romp beside her mother.
This week when tears blindside me suddenly in the field, and I don't know where I can go to cry because everyone around me is tougher than me, and I don't want to lose face, and I can't explain this sudden wave of grief over chickens and crias that aren't mine.
This week, I'm not so tough.
And then my dear sweet husband, from 280 miles away, who cannot even comfort me with his presence, says something so beautiful it makes me cry all over again:
“Tough is not just bottling it up inside until you are pressurized or kill that part of your humanity that feels. It is the ability to handle these kind of challenges and then keep on going.”
He tells me to cry it out, then I can move on.
So I do.
And my friends here comfort me. And I cry it out some more.
And move on.
I'm practicing being tough this week.
These tears are the proof.