Grief. And a rabbit show.

This weekend, I went to a rabbit show.

Have you ever been to a rabbit show?  They are ridiculously silly fun.  A bunch of people show up with more rabbits than you can imagine any one person can have. (Many of them even have little mini trailers they drive their bunnies around in! I’m very jealous! lol).  And they bring rabbits in every shape, size, color, flavor imaginable.

And then, all these rabbit fanatics sit around a freezing cold barn hall in a fairgrounds while their rabbits get judged, vying for things like “BOB” (Best of Breed”) and “BIS” (“Best in Show”).  If you do really well – you might take home as a prize a brand new stack of nesting cages so you can get, that’s right, even MORE rabbits!

It’s silly and fun and if you get out of there without bringing a new rabbit home with you, well you’re a stronger person than me!  Lol

So why did I go to rabbit show?  Well for those of you that don’t know me personally, you might not know that my daughters are in 4H and I’m a leader in a 4H club.  4H is an animal project nationwide learning program, if you aren’t familiar with it.  And it’s the bomb.  I grew up in 4H – showing dairy cattle actually – and have so many fond memories of the experiences and skills I gained there.  Now it’s even more fun because I get to do it with my daughters – My eldest is in cat 4H and shows cats (which vies for the title of being even be sillier than rabbit showing, though guinea pig 4H is also right up there in the pure “you’ve got to be kidding me” category).  My youngest is in rabbit 4H.  And direct a whole pack of crazy kids (and their equally crazy parents) in the intricacies of cat, rabbit and that’s right guinea pig (or, if you are gonna be official “cavy”) 4H.  It’s a lot of fun.

But after the fire, I thought about canceling my trip to this particular show.  It was a lot of driving for a few hours of rabbit showing.  We left Friday at about 11 a.m. and ended up back home Saturday morning at 1 a.m.!  And there is just SO MUCH going on with the aftermath of the fire on every possible level, it seems sort of insane to do that.

But the thing is, I needed it.  Life has been just surreal from that night, and this was, well a little bit of “normalcy” (as much as a rabbit show might be normal!  Lol).

It was nice to think about something other than…getting mechanical records for the auto insurance guy; how to coordinate a complex and multifaceted salvage, clean-up job; all the details of creating a new temporary packing shed and getting a new walk-in we can use for the farm ASAP; all the tools, equipment, seeds, and etc. we need to re-order, repurchase, re-aquire; responding to emails about events and auctions and donations and all the amazing ways the community has responded to this event.  It’s been A LOT.  And I say that as a person that is, in general, pretty good at managing “crunch time” scenarios. But even I can get a bit overwhelmed, and start running low on brain power.  The hard thing for me has always been, to STOP.  Especially when there is so much going on.

So this was a little bit of breathing room, a mind distraction from the fire aftermath.  With rabbits!  Bonus!

And it also, strangely, let me grieve a little bit.  I’ve been SO busy since the fire, thinking about what this all means in a literal sense, how we go forward, finding the best way to grab all this synergy that seems to have somehow emerged out of that ridiculously quick, incredibly destructive event, into somehow positive, meaningful and forward looking.  But I haven’t had much time to grieve.

I kept finding myself on Friday, in between grooming bunnies and talking to kids, having that little “lurch” when I would re-remember – “oh yeah, the barn burned down.  Damn.” And every time it was a little bit of a clench of a heart.  An…”aw shit” feeling.

I’m not one to sit around and dwell on something.  I guess it’s a family “Smith” trait.  We push forward and keep busy.  Sort of ah…”well as long as we’re still ticking we’ll keep going” mentality.  But, sometimes, I have to remember to give myself a minute to reflect and remember.  And it’s funny, because the barn wasn’t a human being and so I want to brush off my “grief” as being not noteworthy.  As tragic as it was losing that beautiful behemoth, it wasn’t the same as losing a person.  Just wasn’t.  Yet…here I am…grieving the memories, it’s beauty, it’s irrevocable loss.  And with so many others doing the same thing!  I stopped to chat with a friend who was walking by the farm on Friday, one of a two part walking team that has been passing our farm almost daily for years, and I could see the tears trickling down her face as we talked.  It was a barn!  Yet, somehow, more.

So I am grieving.  And I know the community is too.  When someone dies, we have the initial shock, the funeral and the grieving, and then, the picking up the pieces.  With the barn, it sort of just jumped RIGHT INTO the picking up the pieces (and boy are their a lot of them!) from the initial shock.  We skipped the funeral and, really haven’t had much organized time to reflect and grieve.  And so I’m writing this thinking on all this (that thing with the mind that won’t stop thinking!  Lol) and I’m pondering on how, maybe, we might be able to find a way to grieve the barn so it allows us to, move on and move forward.  That in the big rush to move forward and clean-up and get back farming, we also need a moment to slow down and reflect and just cry.  I’ll let you know when I come up with a good way to do that. I promise.

For now, I’m gonna snuggle some bunnies (and kittens and dogs and kids, though they are a teen and pre-teen so snuggling isn’t really allowed anymore! lol), and keep pushing forward.  While finding a way to grieve.  And while every teary-eyed neighbor and heart-broken visitor is a little jolt to my heart, it is also so heartening to realize how much that great barn meant to so some many people.  And that lifts me up.  So for that, a heart-felt thank you.

Farmer Georgie

Willowood Farm of Ebey’s Prairie

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