Yesterday, I wrote about being discontented and how that state drives me in so many areas, now including health. Today, I want to write about my bane: discipline.
It’s surprising that discipline is a shortcoming of mine given my natural inclination to plan, but having lived with that reality for a long time, I can tell you without any doubt that I am inclined to be easily distracted and to be lazy when it comes to executing those plans.
Yet, most things in life require some degree of discipline to get done. Even stuff I really enjoy doing has parts to them that I don’t, and that’s where the discipline comes in.
I’m learning that notion now in spades. I’m not in a position anymore to get distracted or get lazy or give up. I have to see this through.
And in realizing that fact, I’m also realizing discipline can be learned in ways I’d never given consideration to. Learning discipline, I’m discovering, is like learning to ride a bike. It takes time and practice, but the more I do it and the longer I do it, the easier it becomes.
In the end, for me, the biggest motivator for discipline is the goal I am trying to reach. In the case of health, I don’t want to always feel this way, so wanting that goal badly enough becomes its own kind of motivation. Motivation breeds discipline.
So, in the end, for me, it’s a matter of settling on a goal I want and pursuing it. Sure, there will be bumps along the way, but I know I can do it. So can you.
I’ve never been seriously ill before recently, so to say that the long term effects of having been seriously ill have taken me by surprise is an understatement. In the past, I have usually been a fast healer, so despite the severity of my issue, I imagined from the very beginning that I would be back up on my feet in a matter of weeks.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Now, granted, the general trend over the past few weeks has been improvement, but the fact is that, while there have been mostly good days, the bad days stand out in their capacity to knock me on my rear end.
The past couple of days have been bad days, the kind that have taken it all out of me. I’ve gone from grouchy to downright foul as I hurt, ache, and struggle with fatigue. Somewhere in there, I know this is not a permanent state, but the physical and psychological effect of even a temporary setback is large for someone as determined and impatient as I tend to be.
Bad days also serve as a warning. This illness damaged my body, and some part of my illness was the result of a bad combination of willful ignorance and impatience with my body warning me it was not okay. In some ways, I’m glad the bad days happen to remind me I can’t go back to the way I was without the risk of repeating what happened.
In short, then, the bad days will happen, and I have to learn to live with them because they’re now part of the package. It’s not going to be easy, but it is necessary.
From the beginning, my desire to make cheese was rooted more in a desire to find a way to preserve milk I might actually have in excess at my farm than any other thing. That is, I never set out to make true Cheddar or Ricotta. Instead, I want to make Innisfree cheese using time-tested methods.
So far, my effort has been a mixed bag, partly because I’m not listening to what the milk is telling me. On the other hand, I have learned a lot from the mistakes I’ve made and have a much better idea of how to proceed.
For me, moving forward means going back to what started me down this path, and that means rereading Sandor Katz‘s excelled writing on the subject. His approach is fundamentally what I am trying to do, and I’m working to reapply his simplicity to what I am doing.
If you are interested, I highly recommend his book Wild Fermentation (affiliate link). It is simple, straight-forward, and an excellent primer for anyone looking to make a variety of fermented foods, including cheese.
There are few things like a disaster of one’s own making to cause one to reevaluate.
We’ve had more than a few disasters, big and small, since we came back to Innisfree on the Stillwater. They kind of come with the territory of taking over this kind of an enterprise and learning on the fly.
While disasters can sometimes be setbacks and can also be demoralizing, we also use them as a chance to evaluate what we are doing and come up with ways to do them better, not just to correct a specific mistake but also to ensure that our approach is the best one to use.
The result is a cycle of disaster, reevaluation, and recommitment. It would be easy to give up when things go wrong, but nobody ever said what we are doing was going to be easy. Instead, we figure out how to do what we are doing better and move on.
In the end, that’s the only way to succeed at farming.
I recently discovered that the building housing my coffee roastery is falling down. It’s an old brick garage, quite possibly converted from a carriage house at some point, that had the misfortune of taking a direct hit from a barn roof that blew off a decade ago. We’ve nursed it along to this point, making repairs along the way, but now the needed repairs are far more serious.
My first instinct was to seek out a professional to see how much it would cost to repair it, but then something odd happened.
I looked at the building.
If you could see it–I haven’t taken pictures, so you’ll have to take my word for this–you’d realize like I did that the people who put up that building in the first place weren’t professionals in the way we think of them today–that is, as specialists. The bricks aren’t always quite straight. The mortar work isn’t perfect.
In fact, most of our farm wasn’t built by professionals. It was built by the people who lived here. Ofttimes, they learned as they went, sometimes under the tutelage of someone who already knew, but just as often they just figured it out on their own. The did what they did out of necessity and need.
And the work they did has been good enough to last more than a century. We have a corn crib that could date back to the 1820s, built from hand-hewn beams. Our house was built in the 1840s, likely by the people who lived here from bricks fired right down the road . Our barn was built in the 1860s by the same people. And that garage probably dates to the 1880s.
What I saw when I looked at that garage was the labor of people who cared about this farm the way that I do. It’s not perfect. The years have taken their toll. But it was work they did that stood the test of time.
And it is work I can do too.
So, instead of hiring a professional or knocking it down to put up some ugly, sterile modern building, I’m going to teach myself masonry. I’m going to learn how to rebuild a garage they built 140 years ago. And maybe, somewhere along the line, I’ll have the chance to share what I know with others who want to know.
And that idea, I think, is what this farm is all about. I’m thankful I looked a that not quite straight wall with its not quite perfect mortar. It taught me something, and it’s a lesson I plan to learn.
67 years ago today, the allied forces of the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Poland, and others fought one of the most significant battles in human history against the occupying forces of Nazi Germany. The Allies won that battle by a mixture of daring, tenacity, and wisdom that has rarely been shown since.
Why remember such an event? Because, like all history, it is our privilege to learn the lessons discovered by their blood sweat and sacrifice. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.