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Friday, August 16, 2013

On a Limb

Rachael Brugger
Sr. Associate Web Editor

Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is. —H. Jackson Brown (HobbyFarms.com)

I love to walk and observe all the activities of the farm because they truly are reflections of our daily lives, don’t you think? Sheep, in their need for a diligent caretaker, teach us to relinquish control and trust others. Herbs that beckon constant pruning show us that casting off old habits can lead to new growth. Chickens, with their ability to lay an egg ANYWHERE, prove that a little ambiguity in our routines keeps things interesting.

This past month, I’ve particularly been wrapped up in the ways fruit. August—peach season—is my favorite time of year, and in addition to blackberries and watermelons and cantaloupes, I’ve been scooping up basketfuls of these sweet, aromatic fruits to make ice cream and pie and simply to enjoy fresh. But as I began to ponder the H. Jackson Brown quote above, I thought about how peaches provide more than just a delicious, juicy snack—they give an example of how to live our lives with a healthy combination of patience, persistence and gumption.

Jackson Brown writes, "Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”

Think about how we grow peaches. The tree starts as a tiny nut that needs care and cultivation. You must provide it with sun so it will grow strong and protect it from pests to avoid damage. Year by year you tend the tree with complete faith that it will one day give you fruit. Peach growing is definitely not an activity that provides instant gratification. With all the hard work you put into a peach tree’s care, it can take several years before you can reach out to the end of a sturdy limb and pluck a fuzzy, pale fruit. But when you take that first bite—oh, how glorious! The juice and sweetness and luscious texture are as near to perfection as you can get in the dog days of summer.

The funny thing about peach picking, though, is there is no hesitation to enjoy in the "fruits” of your labor. So why can it be so difficult at times to "go out on a limb,” so to speak, in other areas of our lives? I’ve been particularly challenged by that idea lately. I often find myself cultivating certain skills, only to lack the gumption to take those skills to the next level. Can you relate?

Maybe you’ve been studying garden books, saving your money and practicing husbandry on a flock of backyard chickens, but the idea of quitting your city job and making that hobby-farm purchase completely terrifies you. Perhaps you’ve spent years perfecting your great-grandmother’s tomato sauce recipe, you’ve done all the research on starting your own canning business and you even have a name picked out for your line of marinara, but something is stopping you from taking your product to market.

Believe me—we’ve all been there!

It can be scary to take that risk. To take all your hard work and intimate knowledge and put it out there for everyone to see—and potentially fail!—leaves you feeling completely vulnerable. But what if you spent four years cultivating a peach tree and never once got to bite into the fruit?! Now you know where I’m going with this …

In my job, I get to spend a lot of time reading stories of people like you who had a hobby and passion, took a risk, and set out on adventure like they never imagined, reaping rewards they never thought possible. Sure they hit bumps in the road—a bruise on the fruit—but I hear time and time again they would do it all again if they had to.

So tell me, what fruit are you reaching for today? How can I encourage you in pursuing your hobby-farm dreams?

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