Pardon Me While I Sulk
“I feel like a failure.”
I announced this to Randy yesterday without much explanation.
It may just be me, or there may be something to this increasingly somber and grey winter week.
Randy hasn’t seemed his usual self, either.
There are days I can hardly wrap my mind around all there is that needs to be done around here. I jump from one task to another, taking part in conference calls, answering emails, making plans, tending to animals and to my health, cleaning goat barns and chicken coops, folding laundry, hand washing dishes, and—most of the time—accomplishing none of it in a timely manner. All these tasks are for causes that I believe in. They are also why I feel like such a failure.
I have allowed myself to get sick, and though my circulating tumor cells are decreasing, they are doing so at a painfully slow rate. Forgive my lack of patience, but a couple months ago I announced to Randy that while this cancer diagnosis had been good and fun (not really), I was ready to be done with it. As it goes, I am not.
Now, there’s this guy. When he first appeared sick, it seemed kind of funny. Randy and I leave town this weekend so I can go through food safety training for a program offered through National Farmers Union. Something always goes wrong with the animals when we’re about to leave town. At first I wasn’t too worried. Frank's blood tests showed nothing abnormal. His liver looked fine. His kidneys seemed good. There was no sign of infection. No obstructions. No dehydration. The vet couldn’t figure out why he was not eating. And now his digestive system has completely shut down.
Frank is the sweetest. He got picked on a lot by the bigger boys, but always took it like a trooper. He was one of our crew. In our marketing materials, I have always made a point of counting the numbers of animals we care for here, two alpacas, seven goats, 30-some chickens, etc. I am trying to process the fact that I will need to revise those numbers.
There are other things going wrong, too. My task list never gets shorter. I wonder sometimes why I’m trying to do so much, when so little seems to be working.
This week I ran out of checks. I still pay several bills with checks, and I hadn’t noticed I was getting low. This one small administrative task, and my failure to complete it, really drove the point home.
“Sherri, you are a failure. Get your shit together.”
The fact is I wrote so many checks this week, hundreds going out to property taxes, to the vet, to electric and propane bills, and to my doctor’s office that there was more money going out then coming in. This is through no fault of those who employ me. Building a farm is expensive. Caring for all these animals is expensive. There’s always something going wrong with one of them. And my own attempts to get well are insanely expensive.
The farm itself brings in zero money, also through no fault of its own. Randy and I barely have time to build it out, to market it, to do the bookkeeping, and to learn what we need to know to run a business. There are days—and today is definitely one of them—when I wonder why I’ve gotten us into this.
I’ve cried a lot today. Running a small farm is hard work. It’s expensive. It’s heartbreaking. It sometimes seems pointless.
I suspect we need to say goodbye to Frank today. I laid on the floor beside him this morning and apologized for not knowing how to fix him. It feels a little ridiculous to be sobbing over a goat. It also feels an awful lot like failure.