Starting Fresh

"Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page.” –Henry Ward Beecher

by Amy Richardson

Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. –Henry Ward Beecher (

If you’re like me, this year’s holiday season passed me by in the blink of an eye. I hardly believe it’s over. I barely got the Christmas tree up, and the garland, well, it was sadly left behind in a box in the attic. Now, in this week between Christmas and Jan. 1, we have a little down time to think and prepare for the new year ahead.

This is a much needed time for all of us: a time to clean up the holiday trimmings—unless you skimped on them like I did this year—a time to tinker with the new gadgets and tools you received  as holiday gifts; a time to spread those seed catalogs out and start plotting your spring garden; a time to get your files and farm records in order; and a time to sit back and think of all the projects that went by the wayside this year and what we most want to accomplish on our farm, or farm dream, in the coming months. 

If you didn’t buy the new property, paint the fence, repair the roof, start the CSA you intended to, or generate the farm income you needed to make ends meet, looking back on this year can seem a little disappointing. Cast those worries aside. The year is over and those are things you probably cannot change before midnight on Jan.  1. We can’t start the year over but, fortunately, we have a new one in front of us to work on all those things leftover from last year’s list and a few more. Now is the time to ask ourselves why certain things didn’t get accomplished—if they were in our control or not. It’s not the time to beat ourselves up over what went wrong or didn’t pan out—it’s time to think positively about all that can go right and all that can happen in the next 12 months.

So, this week, I challenge you to not only make a list of what you want to get done in 2014, but also to back up your list items with some actions and first steps that can help you get a jumpstart on making things happen. Look at your list every week to see how things are progressing and determine items you’ll need to work on sooner than later to achieve them in a timely matter. Be realistic and prioritize so you’ll be able to achieve the things that matter most for you and your farmstead. The new roof might require a new loan—research a few lenders to contact the first week of January. A painted fence might need warm weather. Pick a week in late spring and go ahead and ask friends and family to keep that date free to help out. An askew ledger book might mean you need a little financial consulting. Write a reminder to check online for free resources for farmers in your community.

Goals without action will always be goals—never accomplishments. So let’s learn from the events of this closing year, listen to others, reach out for help when we need it and think positively about all we can achieve in 2014. It’s time to turn the page and start fresh. Happy New Year!

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