And while that means the start of a great life adventure for him, for us it means not only the final (assuming we get no rebounds) emptying of our nest, but also the loss of our strongest and most dependable farmhand.
In a rural environment, strength counts. Right now I'm in the process of moving two cubic yards of enriched soil into our raised beds to bring them back to being full (decomposition and runoff all deplete the soil levels of raised beds and chicken compost alone is not enough to keep them full). It's not backbreaking labor, which means it's something I can accomplish on my own. For heavier jobs, I will usually ask Big Ag to take over.
|I've got this. But other farm-upkeep tasks are beyond me at my age.|
But there are other chores which require two strong men, and in that area we are going to be missing a farmhand once Groceries departs for points unknown. So right now we are trying to get what we can accomplished. The barn quilts need to be finished so they can be hung. (They are quite heavy!) The chicken run needs to be moved so I can finish painting the coop wall behind it. These are not things I am strong enough to be much help with, and so we're figuring out what needs to be done before we no longer have Groceries and his strong arms and back with us.
After this, I'm not sure what we will do when we need an extra pair of hands. We have neighbors we can ask for help, and there's always the option paying a professional to do the things we can't (something we probably need to get used to doing as we get older).
But there is no question that aging on a farm presents challenges. Everyone loves the archetypical story of the little old 80 year-old lady who still manages her own property, butchers her own chickens and turns her own garden, but the reason we marvel at stories like it is because it's relatively rare that anyone can really do that. Especially if you farm, by the time you reach 80 your body has endured a host of injuries as well as just the breakdown of your body from age itself, and so it's not wise to assume how you feel right now is how its always going to be.
And so as we ponder the potential departure of our middle son, we realize we will not only miss him being around the house -- his great sense of humor, his calm and dependable nature and willingness to help out -- but also his strength, his common sense, and his youthful enthusiasm to get a job done.
But nonetheless, I say with a heart full of pride: Anchors away, my son. Anchors away.