Taking the time to stop
As sustainable farmers, it’s a running joke between my husband and I that we’re the only thing that’s not sustainable on our farm. Finding harmony and balance when you own and run a business is challenging to say the least. And in smallholding, the work is very physical, and that’s hard if you’re not 20 anymore. You are constantly pushing the business forward – but it’s exciting and exhausting in equal measure.
Knowing when to stop isn’t easy in this context. There’s always one more thing to do and it’s very tempting to keep working into the wee hours on whatever little thing you didn’t get to, when really what you need is sleep. What is really important to remember is that stopping, relaxing, having a moment, taking a break, is good for you. Your mind is clearer and you lose some of the nagging anxiety that wears you down and just feel better. It’s so necessary, yet so easy to forget.
For us, that break is often a swim. Living on the beautiful Ceredigion coast in West Wales, the beach is just five minutes away. We hop into the car with the kids and the dog, head to the sea and splash into the cold, clear water. All the worry and tiredness disappears in an instant and for an hour or so, we don’t think about anything but catching the next wave.
And then there was the swim at the end of the day – the kids pester for the beach and I push off frustration, throwing my hands up. We get in the car and quarrel at who sits where and cajole the dog into the back. I’m still angry in some abstracted way.
But the beach! The beach is empty, not a person to be seen. And the rock in the middle is submerged – just right for jumping. And I forget. I forget about everything that pulls and pricks, tugs and turns. The water engulfs me and I am screaming at its cold, and everyone throws themselves into its murky green even the dog, who stands panting in the surf.