When I farmed with Susie, Katie, and Karen, I had to learn to work with them, and at their pace. They were the most willing workers, and farm work is hard work. It will leave your body sore for days until you get farm fit. Those girls were amazing and made farming a unique experience. It has been half a dozen, or so, years since I worked with them.
When I first got the bug to farm, I knew it would be organic, and it would involve Draft Horses! A friend named Lynn Miller shared some great advice about getting my first team. He said, “When you look out into a big herd of horses, which horse catches your eye?” Romance and farming go hand in hand. I was always drawn to brown with a splash of white. I knew if I ever got to farm with horses, it would be Belgians! Practically every Hallmark movie used to have horses in them. Susie and Karen were my trained team, and Katie was just learning. 17 hands and 2 tons of horse, they could pull a plow and never get stuck.
When I worked with them, time stood still, and so would we. The horses need rest when we were working, and rest was the perfect time to contemplate the next steps, the next project, the last conversation with my spouse, or maybe just nothing. Sometimes we would stop under the old snag and watch the bald eagle peer down on us and, as we moved on, he would move on.
Last week, I delved into will power and how hard it is to change a habit; how we only have a limited amount of will power at our disposal, and the harder the change you are tackling, the harder it will be to accomplish. That is why will power, which has about a 15-minute reserve, will quickly get used up if you tackle several lifestyle changes at once.
What I learned from farming is also important to making lifestyle changes. When I would harness the horses, I would make sure that all their equipment fit well, especially their collars. Having a smooth, well fitted collar was key to working long days and not getting sore shoulders.
Equipment aside, I wanted to talk about “leaning into” your new goals or lifestyle changes. For the horses, when we were going to tackle a big project, everything became important. I knew what the goal was, and how long it would take. After my team was brushed, harnessed, and hooked to the single trees, we would calmly walk to the field. They knew it was going to be a good day of work ahead.
The very first moment I set the plow, it was always the same. We would pause, then I would cluck to the team, “Susie, Karen ‘step’.” I would release the lines a little, and they would ease into the harness and begin to move the plow. Slow and steady, leaning into the harness, we would get the work done. When you tackle those lifestyle changes, know your goal and how you are going to get there, then “lean” into your work slow and steady.
I believe in you!