Shortly after starting at Hindman Settlement School, I was put to task with sourcing a local feast to be prepared in honor of renowned agrarian and author, Wendell Berry. I set to work with the menu and started calling local producers to source every ingredient possible. I was out of town leading up to the feast, so arrangements were made and lists were checked and rechecked to make sure procurement went easy. I showed up on Friday morning, groggy from spending a week judging livestock at the Delaware State Fair, excited but dreading the long day ahead.
Fast forward 10 or 12 hours spent in and out of the kitchen, checking on Chef Ouita Michel, as she skillfully prepared the feast. What a meal!!! What fellowship was had around those ingredients sourced from farmers, gardeners, and the community!!!! I was proud. My first sourcing event had come together superbly and the meal was nothing short of spectacular. Over 150 folks, from all walks of life set together, held conversations, and learned from each other while divulging in local flavors of pork, tomatoes, coleslaw, and let’s not forget the rattlesnake beans. I stepped back and was fulfilled and content with my job at hand at Hindman Settlement School.
The night didn’t stop there. Shortly after dinner, our esteemed keynote speaker took center stage and shared with us his musings of food, the environment, and agriculture. About midway through his talk, Wendell Berry was asked what his favorite part of farming was, his reply, simply, dread. He went on to explain how dreading the work often times leads to a miraculous feeling of accomplishment and hours upon hours finding joy in what you were dreading. This was an aha moment and a notion I’ve pondered many times.
Regardless of my love for Agriculture, there are days I dread tending to my livestock on my own farm. Sometimes the day at the office was too long, its cold, its rainy, or I just become to content and comfortable in my recliner after dinner; the dread sinks in. But as always, I find myself doing my evening chores, sometimes midnight chores, and drift away into the human silence of the barn, listening to the goats munch, the rabbits drink, and end up spending time just being surrounded with my passion. What I dreaded so, quickly becomes my safehaven, my escape, my happy place. Since hearing this profound notion, I realize dread may be my favorite part of life. Whether I am dreading going back to work after a few days off, checking momma goats at 2:00am on a bitter cold night, or writing a blog, once you get into it, you find the rhythm that soothes the soul and that dread turns into accomplishment and joy.