Sunday, September 27, 2009

Those I leave behind . . . .

and who will anxiously await my return!
I'm excited to go to San Antonio but I belong here! That's what makes it all so special - the anticipation of a new experience in a new culture and the warm feeling of being back with those who love you.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Silkies and llamas and goats, oh my!

A little cotton ball. A dandelion gone to seed. That's what these little chickens remind me of.
Over the past 15 months, I've done some things that I never thought I would do. Starting a farm is one of them. I even entered an essay contest to win a flock of Angora goats.
I know that it is unlikely that I will win them. But writing that essay did prompt me to exam exactly what my animals meant to me and what my goals were long-term.
That really sounds too much like my work! But honestly, it was fun and a lark to pick up these animals. And it does provide for much entertainment. But really, what do my goats, horses, llama, and chickens mean to me? For me?
I think for the first year, my animals (farm animals, that is) acted like knickknacks. They were a novelty and they are definitely cute. But now that we've gotten to know each other, it is clear to me that our relationship is far greater than that. As I wrote in my essay, my animals ask nothing from me other than the basics. Regardless of what type of day I had, or that they've had, they are always welcoming. Always running up to me to see what I'm doing. That's not quite the case with the humans in my life. Often times I feel that I'm just a piece of furniture albeit a piece of furniture that can cook.
My animals also trust me. They know that when they see me they can expect to be fed, or hugged, or talked to.
They also are fairly straight forward. Dolly llama for instance will spit at me if she is ticked off at me--usually for something like trying to brush her too hard. The animals either like you or they don't. They don't pretend.
The essay got me thinking about supporting myself after retirement or whenever I really get sick of the rat race. I grow lovely herbs. I could shear Dolly and use her hair for yarn. I would need to learn some things. To point that I could sense the right way of doing things.
So I guess the whole point of this posting is that I've learned so much just by simply writing the essay. I've learned not only what my farm animals mean to me, but what my human friends mean to me as well. I can't believe how many people were willing to vote for me. And the comments they made . . . nearly made me cry.
I may not have written the winning essay to get the flock of goats, but through everything else I've gained from this experience,
I think I won.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Goodbye summer

Even the happy sunflowers hang their heads low as summer slips into fall.

Goodbye to the heat of the morning as I step out to say good morning to my farm friends. Goodbye to swimming in the cold water of the creek.
Goodbye to Hermit Island and to the gulls that laugh at us,

the crabs that run from us, and the deer who sleep in the brush next to our tent.
Goodbye to sitting on the deck with my mom and dad, enjoying a cold beer and good conversation. Goodbye to lunchtime walks with my favorite friends.
Goodbye summer--we've had enough and we're ready for the vibrant, crisp colors of another friend, Autumn.

Fragile Life

How fragile is life?

A freshman student was found dead at the bottom of stairwell. Four weeks into classes. His dreams, his family’s dreams, gone. He may have been a future president, he may have developed a cure for cancer, he may have been the one to save us all. We’ll never know. One second he was alive, the next—gone

His life or rather, his death, has been the impetus for me to do some reflection on my life (that I still have) and all of the trivial things I’ve been complaining about. Seriously. Boo-hoo for me. I have a really good job but poor me because I’m having a hard time with the supervision part of it. Really – wouldn’t this dead boy’s family give anything to have that be their worst problem? How dare I cry over my dissatisfaction of a situation that most people would find very satisfying! Instead of whining, I should be celebrating!
For today, I think that I will take notice of all the little, good things. Instead of stressing over having to fix the fence--again--I'll be thankful that Bella, Tommy, and Cookie Dough didn't escape and wreak havoc across the valley. Instead of dreading having to lug gallons of water from the kitchen to the animal water troughs because the water pump isn't working, I'll be thankful that have the strength to carry water.
For today, I'll simply be thankful to have a family who is always there for each other. Always. I have wonderful kind children, I have healthy, happy animals. I have colleagues who I consider to be my friends.
For today, I'll simply be thankful.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting old ain't for sissies!

It just seems like yesterday that I was - seemingly - the same age as my parents. I can remember hiking with them in Cooks Forest, taking the kids to the local swimming hole, tagging along with my mother as she did her marathon shopping trips. I remember trips to Erie to visit my favorite aunt and uncle and my cousins. Little things bring back these memories so clear, so sharp, it is almost as if I've gone back in time.

It also takes just little things to bring me back to reality: the tickettaker at the local fair asking me if I was a 'young senior' (I cried), a young girl whispering loudly at how gross I looked in my shirt (it was a fully-covering shirt I borrowed from my daughter because I had dumped grease on the shirt I was wearing), or a weekend with my parents watching my dad shuffle from place to place.

I was devastated by the former two harbingers of time. I almost said 'screw-it'! Why should I bother running and eating healthy when I just look like hell anyway! Thankfully my pity-party lasted only a short time and I've gotten back to me. I don't know why it bothered(s) me so much. Seriously, if I cared what people thought, I would wear makeup and all of the other cosmetic things to make me appear younger.

I hate that I'm periodically reminded of the cruelty of humans. Of how we compare others to ourselves and how we think we/they should be. I know I'm guilty of it. In fact, I'm writing this blogpost about it which indicates that it does matter to me. When I'm at the receiving end of thoughtless remarks and unintended insults, while it does hurt - it reminds me to be a little more careful in how I communicate.

But getting back to oldness and parents and all of that . . . . I spent the weekend with my mom and dad. I hate that my mom has a hard time hearing even with her aids. I hate that my dad is becoming forgetful at times and has a hard time walking (despite this walking difficult, he still continues his job as a consulting forester). But I'm also seeing something that is truly amazing - that 30 years ago, I never would have thought possible. My dad is happy. My dad is enjoying being around family. And even though he doesn't participate a whole lot in the conversation, he is actively listening. We were at the wedding of my younger cousin - young as in 44 years old. A few years ago when my dad was still drinking quite a bit. He would have sat and pouted in a corner and then complained the whole way home making everyone miserable.

Dad no longer drinks more than 1 or 2 beers and the change in his disposition is nothing short of miraculous! He doesn't complain - he could complain and be depressed about his waning ability to hike in the woods but he doesn't. He seems to genuinely be happy! And everyone has noticed!

No, getting old is not for sissies - only the strongest survive! But surviving to an old age, no matter what age - is a blessing!

Learning Curve

Over the past few weeks, I've noticed that we have a rooster wannabe in my crew of chickens.

Early in June, we purchased some eggs to hatch from the same woman we bought the barred rock chicks last summer. We wanted to watch them hatch and being as we only had 7 chickens, we were thrilled to add some friends to the group. We weren't sure at first, didn't even really care - but turns out that one is an aspiring rooster.

Now this rooster looks like a mix of all different types! I can see sussex, Barred rock, some Rhode Island Red not only does he act confused, he certainly looks confused. He has a few beautiful green tail feathers, he really is a lovely bird!
But a few weeks ago, when I was outside getting everyone fed, I heard this awful sound--gutteral kind of scream. But around my house, you're likely to hear most anything so I don't pay too much attention. Also the hens are really kind of loud and make a whole lot of noise when they're laying their eggs so since I only heard it the one time, I just forgot about.
Over the past few days however, the gutteral scream has been refined into nearly a cockle-doodle-doo! I realized that it was my rooster! It is like he is going through puberty and his voice is changing! It's hilarious! He's really not all that loud and I'm not sure if that simply means he hasn't built up his cockle-doodle-dooing ability or not - but it really is a pleasant sound and I like hearing it in the morning. It is kind of like the chicken-version of a sun-salutation! A celebration and welcoming of the day!
I just hope my neighbors see it that way -

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thank you, Soldier Girl

A solemn day. Eight years ago today my youngest daughters were at their first day of preschool. And our country was under attack.
I can remember precisely the spot where I was standing when I realized that the plane hitting the Twin Towers was not an accident.
I remember thinking later that morning that we were being attacked from all sides. The banners at the bottom of the TV reporting all sorts of planes falling from the skies.
I remember picking up my son from school and the look of pure terror on his face. I remember standing by the beds of my sleeping children and wondering if there would be a world for them to grow up in. I felt so, so hopeless - so many people did.
I remember my daughter who I thought would be prime candidate for reform school, saying that she wanted to enlist in the Army. Which she did. And I'm so proud of her and of all the young men and women who selflessly gave of themselves to protect us moms, dads, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters. So that we wouldn't have to wonder about the future of the world for our babies. Thank you, Kristen. Thanks to all of our servicemen and women.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Love Angoras? Check out this contest!

The folks at Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm have a unique opportunity for all of you writer/farmers out there. Believe or not, they are looking for the perfect home for a flock of Angoras. The winner will be selected by essay. Click on the link above to get the particulars.

A torrid love affair

 I've written about the ducks quite a bit. It's a little like Peyton Place around here I think. A couple of months ago, the male d...