Thrive, don't just survive.
Updated: Apr 4
The barn, in the old location.
Well, today marks the first full week of self-isolation for us. We’ve found ourselves slipping away from keeping time, our lives have evolved to flow with our own personal rhythms and not the clocks. In fact, the only clock we have is on our stove and after a brief power outage from a storm, we have yet to reset it. We haven’t missed knowing the time, and the only reason to even be aware of it is so we know when it’s ok to call up to Alaska to check on family (it’s a 4-hour time difference).
We had an absolutely gorgeous day yesterday other than some storms that rolled through on and off. In between the rain, we had a solid hour of sunshine and warm temperatures. Seizing the opportunity, we pulled on our mud boots and went for a hike in the field behind our house. Even Lazy Dog joined us, darting about sniffing and running through the puddles - our white dog was suddenly a brown dog as a result. We walked along inspecting the fence line, checking the drainage and stopped to mull over our little barn project that was put on hold due to winter.
Late in November, we moved our smaller barn from its spot near the road to our upper field behind the house. The barn, as best we can tell, was built sometime around 1890 - 1910. It is a lovely little timber framed structure with weathered wood siding and a slight lean due to the erosion of the stone foundation that once sat beneath it. After dragging it standing (yes, they jacked it up onto steel beams and pulled it with our 5-ton truck) up to the new site, it got a fancy new block foundation and a heated cement floor. And then the first snow hit, and we left the project to wait until warmer weather. So far, it seems to have survived the move and the ensuing winter storms. Sure, it lost the huge wooden doors in the first windy blizzard, and a bunch of boards in subsequent storms, but still it stands.
As we hiked along, I thought about all that little barn had been witness to over its long life. The Spanish flu of 1918, two world wars, the Great Depression, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Watergate…so many episodes of national crisis, and yet there it stands albeit in an improved place. For so long, it had been used as storage for unused and neglected items, charmingly rustic and slowly rotting. When we looked at the farm for the first time, our agent said we should pull it down to avoid a liability. Our home inspector wouldn’t even inspect it as he said it was “too far gone”. But we absolutely adore timber frame structures, having converted an old barn into home years ago. We saw the potential and decided it was something worth saving. We hemmed and hawed over what to do with it, deciding it would make an excellent machine storage and metal shop.
It no longer sits in the middle of the drainage ditch for the driveway, getting waterlogged. It isn’t near the road where year after year the salt they use to treat our road erodes the stone foundation, pushing and pulling the timbers. It is about to get a new exterior, insulation and lights - something it’s never had before. It will have heat and be the home for our tractors and machinery, giving it the most important job of our outbuildings.
I thought the barn was a fitting metaphor for our current situation. That barn has seen the best and worst of humanity and nature, has remained steadfast and strong, and is now about to have a rebirth. We should view this time in the same way - a time of rebirth, a time to be the best examples of humanity we can, to remain steadfast and strong in the face of uncertainty and fear, and emerge reborn, refocused and ready to do what needs done to get our world back on track. This situation is bigger than ourselves, tougher than we could have ever imagined, and yet we have weathered other storms. We, like that little barn, will weather this and remain. Yes, we will be bruised and battered. Yes, we will be missing some boards or a door. Perhaps we will lean a bit more than we did before. But with time and belief and more than a little elbow grease, we will emerge as an even better version of ourselves.
Here at Lazy Dog Farm, we have a saying these days - “Thrive, don’t just survive”. Every day we find new ways of doing, thinking, being that help us not just weather the storm, but make each day the best we can. Sure, there are dark times - the fields flood, the roof leaks, the power flickers every time we get a windy day. But they are temporary, fleeting. What remains is the overall positive mindset, the belief that this situation is a blessing in disguise - an opportunity to live out of time and society. To have the opportunity to choose how we want to spend our free time once work is over for the day. We bake, play games, talk, read, do crafts - every day we find something new and fun to fill our hours meaningfully. We shut off the computers, put away the phones and discover all the things we forgot we could do. So, today, unplug - reconnect - allow all those things you always put on the back burner to come into being. Start that knitting project, paint that hallway, do a yoga session, meditate, take up running - whatever it is, DO IT! This is the universe’s signal that now is the time. You have been given a gift - the gift of time out of time - use it with love and kindness.