There is no doubt about it: the year 2020 was really one for the books and there is so much about it that I will happily leave behind. But as I wave it a cheery goodbye, I pause to remind myself that it brought us opportunities for growth too – despite what we’re being programmed to believe by social media, it wasn’t all bad. I take stock at the end of a year that was for many, a year from hell: I have much to be thankful for.
Following a total hip replacement in December 2019, my husband Stephen entered the year in fighting form and made a swift and full recovery. It is wonderful to now see him moving about freely, instead of hobbling like an old guy twice his age. As such a young man who has always been so active, it was painful for me to see him in such constant and debilitating discomfort.
In February, I got to make a brief visit to Amsterdam for my younger brother’s photography exhibition. It was so wonderful to be there to support him and now, looking back, it feels even more special to have been able to help him to prepare for it. If it had been scheduled for any later in the year it surely would not have happened. A surprising twist to this, is that my mother gifted me one of the pieces from the exhibition for Christmas, so now I am the proud owner of an original Conor Vella piece!
When Covid began to make its presence felt in Ireland, we were lambing. Schools closed, meaning that I had help in the lambing shed. The lockdown came into effect, meaning that I was dealing with lambing alongside my husband and son, instead of with hired help. Our day to day schedule really wasn’t affected by restrictions, but it did give us valuable hours to catch up on lots of chores about the place. While I home-schooled, Stephen rehung gates, fenced and did lots of other bits about the place that had been put off due to lack of time.
We managed to make lots of improvements to our garden, adding more beds, fruit bushes, rhubarb, a great composting area and best of all, a polytunnel, which yielded fruits and vegetables throughout the summer. Our chicken coop got fixed up, we got more chickens and delighted by this, we decided to push the boat out, adding some quail to the homestead too. In the midst of all this creativity and growth came the idea for Misty Green Living. It’s just a fledgling for now, but I hope that I can grow it to be a truly useful resource for folks this coming year.
The summer was filled with sunny days and for us it really was business as usual. Building sites stayed open, so Stephen was at work during the week and Luke and I were at home holding the fort: tending to the garden, minding the sheep, collecting eggs every day. The grass grew well which kept the sheep happy and the lambs plump, and we were able to stockpile plenty of silage for the winter.
September rolled around. Luke returned to school after over five months off. It was wonderful to get back into a normal routine again. The school staff really pulled together and made the transition back so easy for all of us, parents and children alike and they have been doing a wonderful job of keeping us informed of all progress that happens, both academic and Covid related. The school managed to stay open for the whole of the September term and without any cases of the virus which I feel is truly impressive and a credit to the whole team.
As the autumn crept on, we put our Lady-Sheep out with the rams and will be looking forward to a good crop of lambs in March. We had them scanned just before Christmas to check for positive pregnancies and litter sizes and it is looking good. At this stage all of the sheep are housed and enjoying the comfort that that brings: shelter and as much silage as they want. Our lambs from last lambing season have been sold: some at the mart and the rest went to the factory.
The last couple of weeks, I felt truly blessed to have my mother and brother come to spend time with us in County Wicklow. We enjoyed time together in each other’s company, mostly relaxing, watching movies or playing board games. I count myself lucky to still have my family around me – all healthy and free of the virus. My older brother in America and his family did contract it, but thankfully all have made a full recovery. Unlike so many families around the world, this Christmas we had no empty chairs around our table due to loved ones being taken from us too early. I think if 2020 has taught us anything, it is to appreciate our loved ones, to cherish them and to hold them close.
When we are presented with challenges, it is important that we approach them in a positive manner - it makes a huge difference to our mental wellbeing if we do. Being susceptible to a bit of a ‘doom and gloom’ attitude, this is something that I work on especially, because my mood and attitude will affect the whole household. It affects my productivity and that of those around me. But worse than that, it affects my creativity and zest for every day.
So, as I close the book on 2020, armed with the skills and experiences taken from it, I pledge to myself to tackle this New Year with an open heart and an open mind. I look to the dawn and I hope. I hope that I will be able to count as many blessings this time next year.
Happy New Year!