Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Brother's Christmas Gift from Heaven

"For Mom, Uncle John, and Our Families"

The holidays are a cacophony of sounds, smells, and images connected to memories of family:  mom baking lemon drop cookies; children bustling in and around the kitchen; and quiet moments when we remember glimpses of loved ones who can only join us in memories.

The Hackett family lost our matriarch two years ago. At eighty-five, she had fought a life-long battle against the scourge of rheumatoid arthritis. She was our hero, our mentor, our confessor. The banker, who balanced to the penny; the Great-Grandma who just missed the birth of her tenth great-grandchild: Melanie Hazel Hackett.

Now with family spilt by distance and indifference, we search for meaning and try to find answers to our “why?” Symbols help connect the generations and provide us with opportunities to reflect.

The following is an adaptation of Clement Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by my older brother, John Hackett, who found comfort in the beauty of a yellow iris. A yellow iris that he transplanted from his mother’s garden; an iris that bloomed on Christmas day to let him know that “Mom” was still alive in his heart, a symbol of both continuity and of love,

“Mom's Christmas Iris”
'Twas the night before Christmas, Not a single Iris was in bloom
The plants were all snug in their beds,
While visions of spring blossoms danced in their heads.
When, in a forgotten section of garden,
I sprang from the ground,
When what to my eyes should appear,
But a single Iris in bloom, where none should be.
I knew in a moment, since this plant was Mom's
That she was here to say, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all have a great day.”

John Robert Hackett                        
The Torrance Hacketts                    
 "I believe it was a sign from Mom."   

Sunday, December 28, 2014 is now posted and operational thanks to my daughter Christina and her boyfriend Oscar. I wasn't sure if I wanted to create a website; my rabbits won't even know that they are featured on the world wide web. But with retirement coming and listening to teachers who have retired, I am beginning to realize that we cannot run away from the world in our retirement. We still need intellectual stimulation and connections to other humans. So, I guess I am trading in my professional career for a new, smaller, more personal adventure.

I still have the need to figure out some new puzzle; play with words to communicate some inner need or feeling, but now I must search out a new community to interact with and share ideas. I find it somewhat ironic that I have chosen the rabbit community. When down and not sure about life at 22, I reached out to the rabbit community in Southern California and in return, I received companionship and a shared interest: the joy of rabbits. With the help of Herb Dyke and June Payne, my brother and I formed H and H Mini Lops and began breeding and showing those flop eared clowns, who loved to stomp their heels and run in my backyard. My brother enjoyed showing; I enjoyed rabbits. They helped me take my mind off of cancer and with their help, I returned to good health and moved on to other adventures in adult life.

Now after family and career, I once again have time to sit in a chair and watch my rabbits run and kick up their heels. But now they run around not at the lake in Lake Lindero, but at Mission Hill Farm, at the base of Black Mountain, in Springville, California.

Now I sit back and watch my New Zealand Reds rather than Mini Lops. I have much to learn; I want to reach out to other New Zealand Red breeders: How do I improve those shoulders? How long should I try to hold on to prospective show rabbits before I turn them into rabbit stew? Have other breeders had any success at selling their frozen rabbit meat at local farmers markets? Can the reds compete with the whites? Should I try to introduce the white's body type via broken reds?

Black Mountain is frosted white; the thirty degree sun is warming the rabbits' cages after a long cold night; and has witnessed its first sunrise.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mission Hill Farm

Mission Hill Farm is the dream of a five-year-old that came true through dedication to family and hard work.

The Mission Hill Farm brand is the real life manifestation of a Christmas present I received when I was five years old. I still remember my oldest brother, Bob, setting up the plastic farm animals in front of the red, tin and plastic barn, complete with round silos. I don't think he had any idea of how deeply that farm set would impact my future dreams and life.

My wife and I and my mother purchased a five acre cow pasture over twenty years ago; however, dedication to a growing family and career kept farming a "maybe someday dream."

Now, with two children grown and one still at home, it is time to see if the American dream can come true in Springville, California.

The farm will always be funded by the income earned from faithful public service, but perhaps with a little creativity, we can produce and sell our rabbit, lamb, eggs, and sheep milk yogurt and cheese at local farmers' markets. Our hope is develop our family farm and produce quality products that are delivered with a friendly, personal touch.

The adventure begins.

This blog is inspired by two other blogs:    by Hal Walter, who  uses the beauty of language to inspire his readers to eat healthy, live actively, enjoy donkeys and pack burro racing, and live life in a way that we try to understand others, who may see life a little differently.   by Danelle Wolford, who captured my interest backyard farming and spoke to my "Yes, we can" attitude.
The future of Mission Hill Farm