With that humility comes an enormous sense of gratitude. And what better time than Thanksgiving to take a bit of stock in what I / we all have to be grateful for at the farm?
I have written several times throughout the season about the hard work done by each and every employee at Featherstone Farm—English, Spanish and Dutch speaking, in the fields, repair shop, warehouse, and beyond. I am so grateful for these people, and for all their passion and commitment… it is the foundation of what makes the farm what it is.
But of course it is not only those with dirty hands and sweaty brows that make Featherstone Farm happen. There is are critical office staff as well, whose tireless work and dedication I have too often overlooked in my writing. This year long-time office/business manager Greta Sikorski will be leaving Featherstone, and leaving a huge hole in the mind, body, and soul of the place as she does. There is no way to overstate the debt of gratitude that I owe--that we all owe—to Greta, for working two, three (sometimes four!) full time jobs simultaneously at the farm over the years. We could never have done it without you, Greta, you will be sorely missed. Thank you.
I have also failed to acknowledge sufficiently the patience and support of my family over the years; my parents and sons, and particularly my wife Jenni (who will be finishing her Master’s degree at the U of M next month!!). This was to have been the year that the uncertainty and yes, the occasional drama of a small family business would be brought back into check; the year that I could become the parent and partner around the house that I aspire to be. For many different reasons, this was not to be in 2014. I am so humbled and grateful to Jenni, for once again supporting me through thick and thin.
On Saturday my family and I went to Rochester to see Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion. Keillor began the show by talking (and singing!) at some length about his previous visits to the town, as a patient at the Mayo Clinic. What he jokingly described as his “annual show on privilege” I took to be a meaningful rumination on the grace of second chances. And this brought into focus for me the final big lesson for Thanksgiving 2014: gratitude for the chance this life gives us to learn from mistakes, and to do better in the future.
There are so, so many things that are so right and so satisfying about what we all do, collectively, at Featherstone Farm. It is my privilege to be part of it all. But I still have so much to learn about how to run the farm responsibly, that sometimes I feel completely at sea. It In taking stock in the people and relationships around me I find both my debts of gratitude and the motivation to take advantage of second chances to repay them. It is in Thanksgiving that I find my way to safe harbor.
Thank you, everyone, for your inspiration and generous support over the years. Featherstone Farm would not be what it is today without you.