An Ode to Community

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
While meeting with a group of women from my church recently, I learned that one of the Farmgirls in our community needed some help. Emily had recently undergone surgery to provide a kidney to her ailing little girl, and she needed to have a chicken coop built and some garden work done before the winter hit. That did not sound like a huge request to me. After all, I thought, surely there are enough of us in our little farming community who could spare some supplies, tools and a few man/woman hours. I decided then- and- there that this was something that we could, and should, do.

Along with of the privilege of getting to write this blog for the MaryJanesFarm website, I am also fortunate to be a part of a GREAT Farmgirl chapter called the Prosserfarmgirls. Our local Farmgirl chapter, like other chapters in the MaryJanesFarm Farmgirl Community, is very good about running to the rescue of our fellow Farmgirls. Even though this was a bigger project than most, it is not unlike what we do for each other all the time. I am very aware that brilliant people are everywhere, yet it still does not stop me from thinking that I have some of the best of the best here in my own backyard. I am constantly amazed by the endless talent of these women. We have chocolate makers, bakers, chefs, re-purposing artists, painters, hat-makers, sculptors, writers, tailors, and more.
However, more than their talent, I am most impressed with the amount of heart these women have, and with the amount of fun that we have, both within our community, and in our Farmgirl world. All of them are willing to teach and serve the others. When I was contemplating my offer to help with this coop project, I knew that I had the kind of community who would roll up their sleeves, strap on their tool belts, and help me to get the job done.
The build is September 19, and I am anticipating a good turnout of Farmgirls and community members. I bring this up as a reminder to all of us that in this economy, there are many of our neighbors who are really going through hard times. While most of us are pinching pennies, some of our neighbors have lost their jobs and are going into the winter months feeling overwhelmed and in need of a plan. In addition, some, like our Farmgirl friend, are hardworking farmers who just fell behind when a health crisis hit their family.
Part of the Farmgirl spirit that we talk about so much at MaryJanesFarm comes from a “can do” attitude. We see an issue, and we do not just walk away from it. Instead, we are willing to ask, “What do I need to do?” With the willingness to ask ourselves that question comes a “sure, you can borrow a cup of sugar” mentality. Not worrying whether we ourselves will have enough rather in that moment, only worrying about the immediate needs of others. It is through generosity that others can understand that we have all been there at one time or another. There is a shared commonness in the fact that everyone needs help from time to time.
I was encouraged to discover at a recent Prosserfarmgirl meeting, as we were all sharing a little bit about ourselves, that we would all be just fine if we took the time to support one another. Everyone in the room grew, raised, or made everything that we could possibly need to weather any storm.
As winter approaches, we will all have the opportunity, as we look around us, to see where we can lend a helping hand. We need to be prepared to jump in to make sure that others get through the months ahead. It is during these times that I believe we are at our best, and we get to practice being a community.

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  1. Cheri says:

    We are preparing for our own county fair. If I was anywhere close, I would bring some friends and help.

    I am certain that you are correct and will just MAKE A DIFFERENCE for your friend.

    Good luck, please post pictures of your event this weekend.
    While I am submitting, photos, pumpkins, and Hay for our fair. Moving in 3 horses and nutrition and gardening projects for my own kids. I will remind our little town about your efforts.

  2. Becky says:

    Wow Rene,

    That was a great post. I would give anything to be a part of a community like you are talking about. I live in a semi-rural area and there is no community whatsoever. It would be amazing to be a part of a community where there are others willing to "watch your back" and help out when needed. My husband was laid off in June and we are by no means destitute but it would be nice for someone to ask how we are doing and if we need anything. It seems like our friends (supposed friends) just can’t handle something like this and instead of talking about it they just ignore it and act like it isn’t even there.

    Oh well, enough about my problems. I am happy for you that you are able to be a part of something so great. And that friend who needs the chicken coop she is blessed to have a group of friends so supportive.

    Becky

  3. What I know to be true is a women’s heart and spirit gives to those in need no matter how big or how small. To sit with sick chick’s, give a gentle pull to slipper hooves stuck on their way out to a new world or holding the hand of a dear friend as they slip out of this world. I offer my hands, heart, tears and soul to any in need – two or four legged. Being of service is what we do and for that we are all farmgirls!

  4. Dalyn says:

    wonderful post Renee. Really good!

  5. Leah Adams says:

    I must say, I do envy you. From your Farmgirl community, to your county fair, it all sounds so delicious. I live in Roswell Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, and there is definitely "nothing" farmgirlish here. I love the country, I can sometimes smell it in my mind as I long to be somewhere like you are. But, the hubby’s job is here and I am in school full time to finish my masters and teach. I also love to write, so I am working on that as well. We have seven children, a great Dane named Tux, and a chihuahua named Sydney, both of whom would love the country. We don’t even have a back yard for the children to play in. Sad, isn’t it!

    My grandmother used to make quilts and I read your article on quilting. It was fabulous,and made me miss the country even more. I think it is wonderful to have a community like you do. Sometimes when we are in the midst of something, we don’t see what it means to us, or how much we have to be thankful for. Love your farm, you are very lucky to live in a place like that. I wish I could have a little piece of you here.

    Good luck with the project and I hope all turns out well.

    Leah

  6. Tammie says:

    Rene,

    What an inspiration!!!!
    I am a farmgirl wanabe. I grew up in the city, and the closest thing for me to farm roots go back several generations. I wonder if your community has always been this close knit or if someone (yourself perhaps) gave it a boost. I agree with the other posts here, I would love to be a part of such a close community. What can I do to get a chapter like yours going where I live? (I don’t want you to ask, where do I live? I would like to know what steps it takes to find the people around all of us with similar interests and generosity of spirit. Willing to give of ones own time even if the money isn’t there.)

    I love your post. I have a home day care so during naptime I read. My MaryJanes Farm magazine has been through several readings by the time the next issue comes out so reading your post is an added treat.
    I enjoy reading through the comments your readers leave as well. This post is a virtual community for me.

    Blessings to all
    Tammie

    While I would love to take credit for the way our community and our farmgirls are, I cannot. I do, however, believe that it is the accumulation of time, and the giving spirit. I think our "old timers" set the pace, and then brought the rest of us to believe that it just is the way it is all done. Maybe every community needs a hero. Someone to get it all started. Our community is blessed to have several.

  7. Gary says:

    God Bless Y’all Rene’…!
    The Character of the people in a Community define the Character of the Community and make it a place ya’ can call Home and really feel Good about it. Often, the "little things" make the difference between a Life of Quality and a existence, for after all, Life is a serial collection of those "little things" ‘eh.
    Here our Humane Society and SPCA partnered with Meals on Wheels, and meal recipients who have Pets now also get a meal delivered each day for their Pet. That seems like a small thing, but it is a huge thing to those elderly and disabled people who Love their Critters.
    I am certain that the efforts of all y’all will make a huge difference to your Friend and Neighbor too.
    GodSpeed to Y’all…!
    Gary
    in Tampa

  8. Mandie says:

    What great inspiration! I love that you ladies are helping such a great lady. She will never forget the generosity and she so deserves it. God bless

  9. Karen says:

    What a great post I think each of us can look around and find someone in need. I am in the process of saving up some hats, scarves, and gloves to send to a guy who has a program for the homeless in Atlanta who live under the bridges. I may even see about gathering some blankets too. I feel like no matter how small your step maybe to help someone it can go along way, in this day and time. Thanks for such a great post. Blessings, Karen

  10. ladylocust says:

    You are so fortunate. I live in the mountains about 2-2 1/2 hours south of Prosser. We have a wonderful mt. community. Last year an elderly neighbor passed away leaving his widow behind. Come fall we all chipped in and went and cut, split and stacked two-three cords of wood within just a few hours. It was so rewarding to see her smile, and it was so little time on our part. There are so many things that don’t require money that make such a difference in our lives. Kudos and good luck with the coop.

  11. Christina says:

    Wow… That’s amazing. It is awesome that there are people out there who are more than willing to help others in their time of need. I would love to meet people who have this farmgirl spirit in my area, but honestly don’t know how to go about doing it or even where to look.
    I think our world would be a much better place if we could go back to the old fashioned values of living and be just as neighborly as we can to everyone we meet.
    Thanks for sharing this story. I hope our friend Emily and her little girl are both recovering nicely.

  12. How did the chicken house building project go? I bet she was overcome with emotion…in the best sort of way. I hope her little girl is on her way to much better days ahead. What a grand thing all of you did. shery jespersen

    Thanks.. we had the best time. We still have some work to do….and I will post pictures when it is all done. Thank you for the well wishes for Emily and Laynee they are really great people.

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