Still Waiting for Rain

It’s been a month since my last blog about waiting for rain. And it still hasn’t. When I wrote my last blog I felt like I was grappling with the theory of what it’s like to face a drought.

Reality has hit.  Now the yellow grass crumbles as I walk.  Between the bushes are only stones.  The sky is an insulting blue.  Getting enough food and water to the cows is a full time occupation. (And the awareness of the limited nature of this resource grows).

Something has changed in me too: I have stopped waiting for the rain.   I am no longer checking obsessively to see if rain is forecast.  It happened the moment I saw a tortoise drinking out of a puddle in the dam.  Instead of thinking, maybe this is her last drink before she goes up the mountain to get out of the flood, I thought this tortoise is in the dam because there is absolutely no chance that it’s about to rain.  It felt like a proper grown up moment.

The adult me is needs to respond to this drought. I have to face the reality of what is true in this moment and make some difficult decisions.   If it doesn’t rain there will not be enough food and water for the cows. In that case I must sell some cows immediately to make space. If it does rain in a week’s time the cows will get fat and I will get more money for them. If it doesn’t rain they will get much thinner and I will get much less money for them or they may even die.

Sometimes I laugh at the way that city folk talk: they just want to get a piece of land where they can grow a few veggies, have a cow and not deal with the stress of modern living. Right now I wouldn’t mind the security of a salary, give the responsibility of solving the water problem to the municipality and take a trip to the shops to buy my supper (even if I have to get stuck in traffic and deal with painted zebra crossings and not actual zebras). Today farming feels like the most stressful life choice to make.  It feels like living on the edge, gambling with everything we’ve got and giving up all control.

I know it will rain.  At some stage. But as I get to grips with this drought thing I discover an important lesson for me about hope and responsibility. Hope keeps me going but its not enough. The child can live on hope.  The adult must respond to what is real right now.

This is the time to be grown up and responsible. Stepping into the role of the adult can feel overwhelming because there is the fear that its permanent. That there is no going back, from here on out its just serious business and no magic. But the thing no one told us about adulthood is that we are granted the freedom to move between adult and child roles. The child doesn’t have that freedom, becoming an adult too soon is damaging, children should only do things that are appropriate for children. But us adults still have the option to be childlike, to be cared for, to ask for help and advice, to play and be spontaneous. In fact it is a requirement for being happy and whole. This is true even in our relationships. Both partners must be allowed the opportunity to be strong and to be supported. If we become stuck in one role or the other then we stop growing The challenge is to recognise an adult moment and step into it with courage and confidence.

This drought is a good opportunity to practise that.

I am running my Reconnect: Essence workshop this weekend. The drought has also taught me something about essence of things. Everything is stripped down to its very basic survival mode. It is about a deep conservation of energy which results in stillness. As farmers we are forced to focus on the essentials and cut away all the other drama that clutters our life. I feel very prepared to step into this workshop. See you on the other side.

P.S. The Reconnect series starts again next year with Reconnect: Grounding 24 – 27 March. Come and see if its rained!

Still Waiting for Rain

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We are half way between Cape Town and Johannesberg (about 8 hours in either direction) half an hour off the N9 highway. We are an hour from Graaff-Reinet and 25 minutes from Nieu Bethesda.

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