I get by with a little help from my friends
Drowning in pumpkins
Asking for help is hard. Maybe that's because it seems to violate the whole ethos of self-sufficiency. Perhaps it's because I hate feeling weak, or maybe it's just because the self-image of being an imposition is so awkward. On the long list of things at which I am terrible, asking for help is high up there.
"Learning to ask for help" is literally on my personal to-do list of "things to get better at," which for some reason keeps getting more items added to it than crossed off. It contains essential life skills like "opening mail, "not living solely out of laundry baskets," "getting the hell off my phone," "writing more," and "crossing any of the above items off the list."
It has been healthier for me to keep a list of "things I need to work on" rather than "things I suck at" - but either way, the goal of continuous improvement pushes me to try new things, even if they make me uncomfortable. Hence, my request in every post that you become a premium subscriber even though it feels weirdly self-promoty (also, are you a premium subscriber of my substack? Subscribe below!)
This week I decided to face my "can't ask for help" demon head-on and posted to NextDoor, asking all our neighbors to give us their leftover pumpkins for the chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, turkeys, and goats. I figured that with so many pumpkins thrown away this week, a few people would enjoy passing them along to their local urban farm for animals instead.
Pumpkins are great for all our animals. Pumpkin helps their digestion and acts as a natural dewormer and anti-parasitic for our herd. The birds love to peck at the globes. The goats like to, and I am not kidding about this; pick up chunks in their mouths and toss them at one another.
I thought we would end up with a few spares from around the neighborhood and was thrilled as pumpkins started to show up at our gate. I had no idea how generous our neighbors would be. It's like a scene out of "Cloudy, With a Chance of Meatballs," but with gourds.
It's amazing. Both our gates have piles of pumpkins from all around the area. The goats are basking in all their pumpkin glory. The chickens are running around pecking a pumpkin and moving on to the next like they . . . well, like they had their heads cut off.
My next-door neighbor, Jan, texted me yesterday to tell me that she's been watching out her window at the line of pumpkin deliveries. She saw an SUV slowly crawl to a stop in front of the goats. A few kids piled out, laughing as they tossed pumpkins over the fence. They delighted as the goats ran up to meet them. Jan wasn't sure who was happier, the giftors or the giftees.
Lest you worry they'll OD, our goats have free-feed hay and stop the pumpkin consumption when they get too saturated (I've been watching.)
It's been an absolute surprise and a delight to watch cars and trucks, many with children, stop to deposit their leftovers at our little farm. People seem happy to stop by. I think they enjoy being of use and knowing their holiday decor isn't wasted in a landfill.
This exercise reminded me how much I love to help others with things - even strangers. Often, when someone asks me for something, particularly in a way where there's little to no pressure, I get more gratification out of it than expected. It feels good to do something for someone else.
These pumpkins, and I am not even exaggerating when I say that we might be over a hundred at this point, will add feed to the animals for weeks, if not a month. Each one reminds me that it's ok to ask for things. People want to help you.
Others will take you up on your requests, or not. Part of appealing for help demands you be ok if they say "no." Maybe the reason I’ve had a hard time asking is that I am afraid of rejection. Perhaps I'll open myself up, and no one answers.
But, maybe I'll put it out there and be drowning in pumpkins. I'll look amongst the pumpkiny spoils and see a laughing child, and I'll laugh right back.
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