If you would have told me that I would have my hand wrist deep inside the carcass of a chicken searching for its heart, I would not have believed you… But there I was.
Six months earlier I was selling vegetable juice and kombucha at my farmer’s market when the farmer’s wife at the booth next to me told me that her husband needed extra help working on their farm. Normally I would have glossed over this comment, but I was trying to keep my heart open for opportunities to serve others. And so I decided to take her up on an invitation to visit their family farm.
One week later, I headed out to their farm and was immediately introduced to a level of peace and serenity I had never experienced before. I knew I wanted more of this feeling so I had to get involved. I volunteered to come out to the farm once a week to lend an extra hand.
For the next couple years I went to the farm every week and helped with different tasks including:
- Spending the entire month of January pruning 400 blueberry bushes… My hands were the most scraped up they’d ever been.
- Weeding thousands of feet of soil.. Since the farm was an organic farm we did all the weeding by hand, and there was a lot of it to be done. This was my primary task when I went out to the farm.
- Planting transplants… One weekend I planted 1,500 heads of cabbage in only a few hours.
- Harvesting spinach… No fancy machines here! A bucket, knife, and patience. This became one of my favorite tasks. It was therapeutic and a lot of fun. I liked harvesting kale too.
- Digging up potatoes… This was my least favorite job on the farm, my hand was swollen up and full of boils after this because as I would dig through the soil fire ants would crawl up on my hands and sting me, spiders would scurry away, and I’d scratch off the tips of my finger nails when I finally found a potato. The reward was great, but it was not nearly as much fun as harvesting spinach.
- Preparing beds for planting… I had a lot of fun shoveling manure and wood chips over the beds to prepare them for planting and enjoyed later planting that same bed. It’s rewarding to see beautiful tomatoes coming up out of the bed that I helped to form.
- Eviscerating chickens… I don’t want to go into this, but let me say this… If you eat chicken you should do this once in your life. If you can still eat chicken after a day of preparing 75 of them, you should continue to do so!
- Weeding soil… Oh yes, I already said this! But I had to say it again to reiterate how much time is spent weeding on a small family farm. There is always more to be done and it provides for hours and hours of distraction free thinking time. Surprisingly, I miss this the most.
Just like there is a season for each fruit and vegetable there was a season for my working at the farm. I miss going there, but they don’t need my help as much now and the baton has been passed on to some other folks. Through this experience I learned a lot about small farms and formed relationships that I will cherish the rest of my life.
How can you think outside the box to serve another? Helping your neighbor can come in all shades.
Over the next week I want you to look for an opportunity to serve someone in an area outside of your comfort zone.
Do you have a neighbor that you can serve by offering to shovel the snow from their driveway?
Can you head to a retirement community nearby and spend time with a resident?
Is there someone from church that you know has been going through a hard time that would be grateful to be invited over for supper at your home? Or better yet, could you take food to them in their home?
Share a story in the comments below of how you rose to my challenge.