I don’t think anyone will ever forget where they were or what they were doing on this day nine years ago. I was sitting with my husband in a renewal class for my asbestos inspector/management planner class at the Treeo Center in Gainesville. The class was interrupted and the announcement was made that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. A tv was bought into the classroom and by the time it was turned on, a second plane had also flown into the second tower. We knew, but were still in shock of what a profound change this would have on life as we knew it. I watched for days the stories of heroic efforts, acts of kindness and the reruns of the tragic events. We silently mourned with the families over the following few weeks as we read of children lost, parents no longer to walk in the door and friends and relatives who would never be reunited again. When the clean up started and it became apparent of how many people actually were never recovered we were thankful for our blessings of a safe home and environment.
Weeks and months passed and the trickle down effect started to become evident. We weren’t in New York, nor did we work at the Pentagon, nor did we know anyone that was lost in the tragedy but we slowly realized how our lives would not be spared from the effects of the event.
Since we both worked in the right of way industry, Federal funds are very important to keep the industry rolling. Designing new roads, writing reports to get those Federal funds and acquiring land for those roads all takes millions of dollars and those dollars were being funneled to Homeland Security and the new war in Iraq.
July 11, 2002 – strange how it was also on an 11th day – became known in our family as Black Wednesday! That morning I found our cat, Commanche, dead under the open door to the dishwasher and never could find out the cause. Eight hours later my husband called in shock to tell me he had been laid off. We both cried together that night but I told him that all would be fine because I still had my company and made good money. Two weeks later that came to an end when the same company that laid off my husband called me in to announce they were pulling my contract to perform the work “in house”. The contract was for a quarter of a million dollars and was to be our retirement money. This was my big opportunity to sock away the money and retire at 55. Reeling in shock, I came home afraid to tell him the news but in retrospect, it was expected but we were in denial.
After a several day pity party we started thinking how we were going to survive. I had a couple more contracts that would play out over the next couple years but the money was nothing like we had planned. Knowing we were both over 50, or pushing 50, the job prospects were not the best. Being the survivor, I started brainstorming on what we had to offer and how we could sustain ourselves.
For some reason my thoughts always returned to the dairy goats in the back yard and my seven chickens. We loved fresh eggs and fresh milk, why not the rest of the world? At that time I had no idea of the laws on selling milk and if it was even possible. We started small and slowly grew. I started making plans, even bartering our milk and eggs at that time for items we needed. I built milking stands, hunted down stainless pails at garage sales and restaurant supply houses and began a crash course of running a mini-dairy. For days on end I would study websites, monitor goat related management lists and gleaned every ounce of information I could absorb on goats. If I had to estimate, I would guess I have in excess of ten thousand hours of study invested, and still working on learning every day.
My heart goes out to the survivors of the victims of that day in September. I applaud them for their strength and endurance to continue after such losses. I wonder how things would have been had it never happened? On that day, not only did the terrorists take those loved ones, but they took our livelihood, our life as we knew it and it changed our path for eternity.
And now you know, the rest of the story.