Homesteading After the Loss of My Spouse
My name is Donna. You may know me as the lady who has been raising organic vegetables year round in the desert of Phoenix Arizona for over 30 years. You may know me as Miss Abigail’s mom. You may even know me as the blogger over at Sharing Life’s Abundance.
But this year I received a new title; Widow. Yes, that is right. My best friend, playmate, handsome Hero husband Steve passed away in April 2017. He was diagnosed on March 18th with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and went to Heaven on April 21st ; in my arms.
Of course there was a path beat to my door as friends brought food, hugs, and conversation for several days. People did not know what to say, or do to sooth me. There really was not anything that they could do to sooth me. Looking back, I realize that I just had to make the decision to get up off of the floor and move on.
I walked around in a fog for the first few weeks, rediscovering what it meant to just breathe. Going to work was automatic. When I spoke to people; it sounded like I was actually hearing someone else speaking. I would not call it depression, maybe shell shock.
I would go home to learn how to be alone in my big farm house, to eat alone, and to sleep alone. I wandered around my property; feeding my livestock on automatic pilot. I forgot to tend my garden beds. The fruit trees and grapevines went without pruning. Without Steve there to take care of the landscaping, the drip systems and to the trap the gophers and rats, everything went wild and the rodents started to take over the place. I wanted to sell and get out from under all the work that no longer interested me.
But then came December, I took a trip with a friend to Chicago. We went to the Museum of Science and industry. I toured the section of the museum that covered vertical farms and genetics. I watched as chicks hatched out of eggs in a giant incubator. I read about cattle in CFAOs, cows being shot up with hormones to produce more milk, and chickens in little bitty cages with light bulbs on them 24 hours a day; to make them lay more eggs than they were meant too. WHAT?
That was the moment that it all came back. The reason that I wanted the property in the first place. I wanted room to grow organic gardens, pasture for chickens, and goats to eat and play in while they were making eggs and milk for us to eat. I started planning on how I would trap those rats and gophers that were plaguing my property, I started trimming the fruit trees and planning Saturday morning work parties.
Over the years, I have built a network of friends who are fascinated by sustainability as much as I am. Most of my friends have been waiting for me to ask for help. So now I do, and they come running to help out. What fun we are having together. Much better than a girl’s night out over wine or a coffee shop chat.
I work as an RN and make good money. So I have hired landscapers to do the work that Steve used to do. That frees me up to continue to do some of the stuff that I used to do.
I will admit that I did make the decision to sell the goats for now. They are the animal that took the most time. The sheep eat the grass and drink water. Not only can they stay, but I will breed them both this next year. The chickens are easy, and I am getting a better incubator. I am choosing a breed that is not so common; so that I can sell fertile eggs and chicks. But the goats needed milked twice a day, and then I had to make the cheese, yogurt and buttermilk. That was too much. Maybe when I retire I can take a look at that again.
My gardens are being revived, and on timed drip systems. I am making everything as easy on myself as I can while I continue to heal.
I have become more involved in the lives of others through my church, and that is blessing me greatly. I think that I will even do some more traveling. But I truly believe that I will keep my property so that I can continue to do what I believe God wants me to do. What is that you ask? I think that He wants me to continue to Share Life’s Abundance.