Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

7 March

Acceptance Is The Space Between Fear And Peace

by Jon Katz

I discovered a few years ago that I couldn’t relive my life by skipping the awful parts, or without acknowledging the worst parts of me.

I believe that whatever anyone says about me is the truth, good and bad, at least to them.

The more I listen, the more I learn.

The awful parts are what have made my life worthwhile. That’s how I grow and learn to feel.

I accept myself as a whole, just as I accept the world or the people I love.

When I started the blog, I wrote that people would get the good Katz and the bad Katz – and as we all know, there are both. But I promised that people would get the real Katz, and I am almost there.

It is a promise I never forget.

I have learned to stop fighting or resisting or fearing life.

It is an unending series of natural, unpredictable, spontaneous, and often mysterious changes, some welcome, some not.

I have learned to accept these changes and challenges rather than resist them or complain about them or lament them.

I no longer speak poorly of my life or regret any part of it. I no longer want anything that I don’t have.

I imagine what I want to happen and give thanks when it does.  I also give thanks when it doesn’t.  I accept disappointment and aging as the sacred and natural course of course.

Over this course, my body will begin to deteriorate and while I work to stay healthy, I also know where I am and where I am going. What is aging but life itself?

We are human beings. People get sick, are disappointed, die. We don’t get everything we want, not in politics, not in work, not in life, not in love. We also love, rejoice, learn to be human.

The more I know who I am and accept who I am, the less fearful and upset I get.

Lao Tzu wrote, “Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

This, to me, is the magic and peaceful space between fear and peace of mind, between resentment, fright,  and the freedom to live meaningfully. It might be good, it might be bad. But it is.

We are often taught that holding on and hanging on are signs of toughness and great strength. For me, the opposite has been true. It takes much more strength for me to accept when to let go and then to do it.

People tell me I am calm these days, and more surprisingly, good-natured.

I can’t say if that is true.

I know I am more accepting; that has changed me more than anything. Some of it is age, of course, I have a lot more years behind me than ahead of me, but even the dumbest old dog  learns a few tricks.

Acceptance is not the same as excuse, delusion, apology, or surrender.

Acceptance is a state of mind, an embrace of reality, good and bad. I am learning what I can fight and can’t fight and what I can’t fight is the inexorable power of life.

Radical acceptance does not mean being self-indulgent or passive.

For me, it’s just the opposite, it means stopping to question if I am fighting reality. It means trying to understand the causes of reality, even if I don’t like them.

There are always causes for the reality I don’t like. That understanding protects me from hate and grievance.

Radical acceptance is about facing the truth, accepting life on life’s terms, and stop resisting or fearing what I cannot or choose not to change. Some things just are.

Acceptance of any kind is about saying yes to life, just as it is. There is no value in judging life. None of us are powerful enough or wise enough to do that.

The real value comes from liberating myself from refusing to accept reality; it took years of failure for me to grasp the futility and anxiety of that.

Nobody wants to experience pain, disappointment, sadness, or loss.

But those experiences are as much a part of life as joy or happiness. Without the one, the other has little meaning.

Radical acceptance is about bowing to what I can’t change, foresee or stop. Everyone loses something or someone they love, and it will almost always be painful and difficult.

Everyone has it worse than me. We all face life.

This takes practice and thought, and I am often working on it.

But it has taken me to a place of peace and some emotional freedom. It has brought me to the mystical place of strength.

7 March

Podcast, The True Story Of Robin The Abandoned Lamb

by Jon Katz

We haven’t posted a podcast for a while, apologies for that. Robin the lamb has drawn us back into podcasting. Here is the story of an abandoned lamb, found unexpectedly and for which we were in no way prepared.

Maria and I came together as a team and acted quickly to save Robin’s love. We worked to connect him with his mother, get him some life-saving colostrum, get him dry, thawed out and warm and out of the bitter cold.

Come and listen.It is also a story of love and trust – ours.

You can listen to the story above, or download it and save or read it here.

7 March

The Farm: The Never Ending Story Of Life And Death

by Jon Katz

From the first, my farm was a great teacher.

If offered me one lesson after another, it showed me how far I had drifted from the natural world and all of the things I could learn from it.

I was lost, and on the farm, I was found. I was blind, and on the farm, I got to see. Maria joined me on this journey; we are on it together now.

The first thing I learned was how little I understood about life and its joys and hardships. I had to learn about the lessons I had left to others. I had to buy a gun and kill things, not for sport or violence, but mercy.

I had to help bring life into the world, save it, heal it, nurture, and understand it. I had to pull shit out of the bottoms of lambs, reach into their mother’s wombs to pull them out, burn tails off with red-hit scissors.

I had to kill beloved old sheep and tiny small lambs to keep them from suffering. So many of my conceits and preconceptions, and certainties buckled one after another. I learned what I didn’t know, which was almost everything.

I learned to be my own guru, my own kind of father, my own kind of steward. I relied less and less on others’ knowledge and wisdom; my life depended on my heart, my soul.

And best of all, I learned some of the many things that animals could teach me that I didn’t know or hoped to know. I got to live in the natural world, a different world than I had ever known.

Robin was a sudden miracle to Maria and me. He was a shock, unexpected, and minutes from death. Our inner child came out and grew and saved his life, something I might never have gotten to do if I had stayed in the ordinary world.

We have learned to work together as a genuine team, a dance of love and connection. We saved him.

In the other world, we hired or paid people to do the things we do here all of the time. I told my wife at the time that I never lived until I reached in and pulled two yowling lambs out of the belly of a dying sheep. Or shot a newborn lamb in the head to spare it the pain of prolonged death and dying.

Life and death are woven into the farm’s life – vicious roosters, rabid raccoons, gravely wounded birds, birds that fall out of the sky dead.

Nature is not especially sylvan or polite; almost all creatures around us live by killing something else. We see the bones and the bodies every day.

Nature is not cruel; it is just life.

Robin has entered into this dance, this drama of life and death. He was almost dead when we found him; we could bring him back to life. We amazed and delighted ourselves once we got over the shock.

There it was, right there, the life we yearned for half a lifetime without knowing it, the life we live, the life we love.

7 March

Zinnia Sleeping On My Foot. The Writing Companion

by Jon Katz

When I sit on my computer and write, I often stick my left rear foot and leg back, it seems more comfortable to me. Zinnia comes over and puts her head on my shoe and goes to sleep. We are close.

She s a true writing companion.

I do this until my foot falls asleep and then I move it. Maria saw this from the dining room and got a photo of it. It is sweet, for sure.

7 March

We Did It! Robin Seems Healthy This Morning

by Jon Katz

Robin (he is a he) looks great this morning.

Laurie has bonded with him, cleaned up his coat, letting him feed offer whenever he wishes. The colostrum has worked, Robin has pooped already, is walking steadily, resting at intervals.

His mother was nowhere in sight, something had separated them.

We found her by the afterbirth, still hanging out of her backside, we urgently needed to re-connect them.

Our strategy paid off – vanilla extract on her nose and his butt, and Maria’s skill placing of him next to Laurie’s nipples. They bonded, and he began healing almost immediately.

He was half frozen and half dead when Maria spotted him yesterday. I rushed out to get lambing milk and colostrum and heating lamps and Maria guided him to his mother’s nipples.

We were prepared to bottle feed him if necessary, but that is the last resort. Lambs are cute, but sheep are not pets or furbabies.

Maria stayed behind to frantically try to get the mother to recognize her lamb it worked.

This morning, Maria and I went into the barn. Laurie has turned out to be a good mother – gentle, attentive, calm. Robin is getting lots of milk. We brought him outside to meet the other animals so they will know him when he emerges.

Donkeys often try to reject strange animals – they guard the sheep – but if they know their smells they accept them. The sheep rushed up to smell Robin as well.

Laurie started getting nervous back in the barn stalls so we brought him. Monday I’ll call a large animal vet and have them come and check Robin and give him his shots.

We learned from Liz, our friend, and shearer who gave Laurie to us, that some young lambs were mixed in with her ewes. They were thought to be too young to breed, but it seems they were not too young at all.

She will have a busy Spring. Robin is a pure-bred Romney male, good for wool and yarn.

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