It might be surprising to a lot of our friends and family that Peter and I are out in the field, on a farm, surrounded by cows, in such a seemingly short turn-around from our city-dwelling days of four years ago. The truth is, to us it feels rather inevitable. Just one of a long string of steps we’ve been making forever.
Part of this has to do with an outlook on life I’ve only come to understand recently since Peter and I started working and living together. He told me, once, that as long as we are honest, sincere, and compassionate, everything will work out exactly as it’s supposed to and that there’s no reason to worry about anything. Not that I should be lazy. I should have goals. But that I just shouldn’t try to over-engineer their coming to fruition. I’m a task-oriented, focused doer type and I was panicking. We hadn’t found an apartment in Madison for us and our dog and we needed to move in a month. It’s almost impossible to find apartments that allow dogs in the first place, and the market was pretty insane, with occupancy rates at 95% across the city. I almost flunked out of Stats because I spent every morning lecture on Craigslist trying to be the first to answer every single listing. Peter told me to relax. I told him he was crazy. Then randomly, a few weeks from move-out day, a friend approached us wondering if we’d like to rent his vacant flat in our favorite neighborhood across the street from our favorite park. For a discount in rent we installed a garden and some perennials and had a fabulous year.
Finding land went almost the same way. We’ve been down every back road within 100 miles of the Shepards’ place, identifying farms that look cool and looking up the owners in the county Plat books. We had a three page list of criteria we wanted in land: characteristics we wanted for a farm, a homestead, and for ecological restoration. We passed one particular parcel hundreds of times, and always commented: don’t you wish THAT was what was for sale? This long valley, an oak knoll, a spring – it met all our criteria. At the time, we almost threw up our hands and bought a not-quite-optimum but available parcel out of desperation. We didn’t though, which is important. A year later we ended up chatting to the owner of the coveted valley and now here we are , five miles down the road from where we were after more than two years of searching. And it feels inevitable. The process of looking for land allowed us to identify and narrow down our criteria and give us a picture of just exactly what we were looking for. There’s really no other way to do it. Patience, with yourself and your partner, and a few nights off at the local pub are really valuable in this process.
How did we land here? We ask ourselves that question a lot, but the truth is, we worked hard, stayed focused, didn’t worry, and let the universe work it out for us. I heard Pedram Shojai of well.org mention this idea on the Bulletproof Executive Podcast the other day. His advice: follow the breadcrumbs the universe leaves for you, and leave your ego at the door. That’s exactly what we’ve tried to do.
We’ve wanted to restore oak savanna ecosystems and food-producing landscapes for a long time. We landed at the Shepards’ farm by circumstance, on a tip from a friend in a bar. One breadcrumb! We followed it. Mark let us buy some cows. More breadcrumbs. We want to eat good food. We want to work outside. My parents, after watching us over the years, have found their own breadcrumbs. It all comes together, somehow, leading us the right away, catching us just when we feel the most desperate. We have a plan. We work on it bit by bit, day by day. Is it stressful? Absolutely. And terrifying. But thrilling and fulfilling all at the same time.
We grow through challenge. My dad taught me when I was a kid that anything anyone else can do, you can do. You just have to go out and learn how to do it. I’d add that you’ve also got to be honest with yourself and open to whatever the universe throws our way. Zoom out for a bit. Get a wider perspective on your situation. Accept and enjoy that the Universe is laughing.