Wednesday, December 31, 2014

14 Things I've Learned in 2014

   Happy New Year!

        While all of us are expected today to binge drink and make shallow vows to exercise more in the new year, I'd like to look back on the year I've lived. It was nice.
      I have always had this idea that years of our lives have almost a personality; the depressing years, the wild party years, the bobbing-whichever-way-the-wind-blows years, the stressful years, the achieving years, etc. This year was a Learning Year for me. Through graduating high school and moving on to college, car ownership, and the work world, I have learned some important lessons. Here are fourteen that I would love to share with you (in chronological order):

        1. Sushi isn't actually that bad. Also, people can change their minds--so try new things and then try them again.

        2. Kesha makes waking up on the bathroom floor sound way cooler than it actually is.
                    (UPDATE: due to questions I should clarify that this moment refers to a serious stomach flu and not a hangover. However, both involve vomiting and vomiting is never cool.)

        3. 4H rocks and I wish I had gotten into it earlier!
Central Florida Fair, March 6-8th

        4. "It always seems impossible until it's done" -Nelson Mandela.
                     (But he forgot the part about doing the impossible with friends, which is the best)
Iron Girl half marathon, April 13th

        5. Life goes by crazy fast.

Graduation, May 16th

        6. Making memories is sometimes just a road trip away. Just get up and go!

Chasing the sun on the Summer Solstice, June 21st

        7. There is no such thing as a free pet.

        8. "Fake it til you make it" is a very real thing.

        9. Life's best when you're well dressed :)
Dapper Day fall soiree, September 27th

        10. About 70% of what any of us know about Taylor Swift's love life is just speculation.

        11. Sometimes we have to open our eyes to new truths, even if it means admitting we're jerks.
                     (American History is rough stuff, guys.)
        12. The only way to grow is to be willing to.

         13. A family to rush home to is a gift I don't deserve but for which I am eternally thankful.

        14. Dreams, plans, and resolutions change. And that's okay.

a little piece of farm that has stolen my heart

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you also have learned things you'll never forget.

Piggy Time

   We got a pig!
     Two years ago I had my first experience with raising pigs. It was horrible; I knew nothing about pigs-- where to keep them, how smart they are, how ornery they are, how badly they sunburn, how pointless it is to bathe them...
     But now all I can seem to remember is how cute my pig was.

    When some friends of ours had a litter of piglets (a litter of piglets? Is that how you say it?), my dad decided we would buy one.
        For dinner.
      Cue 'Charolette's Web.'
      People always assume that I eat a lot of beef because I grow so much of it in my backyard. It may be odd to hear, but my family doesn't often eat our own animals. Our cattle, while beef cattle, usually are sold at a livestock market before they are 'harvest weight,' and from there they either go to: 1) a ranch to be breeder heifers/bulls, or 2) to a feedlot where they are fully grown out and then distributed to grocery stores, restaurants, etc. So unless one of our cows ends up at Publix, we're not going to eat it.
      Now it seems weird that I would eat an animal that I raised. I have been brought up to accept the Circle of Life that is the beef business, knowing that the animals we grow will become food. But MY food? Crazy.
      This pig will be a new chapter in my journey as a farm girl in progress.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Turtle


Let me just start by saying that I’m not a tree hugger. Never once in my life have I chained myself to a bulldozer to save a pine forest from the big bad humans. I’m also not a pantheistic, nature-is-god kind of person. I believe that God made nature, but he deserves the glory, not the flora and fauna.
     But, however, I do. LOVE. Nature.

      When I was a kid, I didn’t totally love being outdoors. I liked sun and water and that was about it. Dirt, animals, sticks, leaves and bugs were out of the question. For me, a nature walk that was not on a paved road ended in tears. But as I've gotten older, lived on a farm and seen life up close, I don’t feel the same as I did as a child. After spending hours outside in the heat and mud and muck, being eaten up by insects and stomped on by animals, I was able to get past my discomforts and see the beauty of wildlife. It’s so pure, so beautiful, so untouched. And yet at the same time it works like clockwork. Have you ever seen a tree grow? Have you seen a young cow care for her first calf like it’s all she’s ever done? There’s something incredibly refreshing about being in a world that doesn't need you, yet welcomes you anyway.

I’ve kind of been blessed, although my dad complains, to live with one foot in the country and the other on concrete. Because now I understand both worlds and I see what is special about each of them. But I can also see where where our worlds deprive us.
      My college campus is on a nature reserve--a set of grassy trails and marshes among the busy roads of a growing city. Most of the people, me included, just go to class and leave and don’t think once about the nature around us.
     You can’t even see it, for the trees.
     But yesterday on my way out from class, there was a turtle in the parking lot. Just, like, this little turtle sitting out by the sidewalk in the sun. Now I see turtles all the time at home--gopher tortises, alligator snapper turtles, little freshwater turtles. Compared to the turkeys, deer, and bunnies that I also see, the turtles at home kind of get overshadowed.
     They’re just...turtles.
     But this turtle at school? This little dude was famous. People kept stopping whatever they were doing, dropping down on the ground by it and snapping pictures. Small crowds formed around this turtle like he was a circus side show. People who were usually in a hurry or staring at their phones stopped in their tracks.
    “Do you see this?”
    “Oh my gosh, is that a turtle?”
    “Oh he’s so cute! Quick, get a picture!”
    “Can I touch him?”

    And it occurred to me that while I just saw another turtle, most everyone else had seen a part of the world that they have been removed from. It used to be that people couldn’t see the forest for the trees, but now I think that a lot of people can’t even see trees.
     That afternoon I went home and got out my camera and I did what I’m not likely to do every day. Something my dad does all the time, and I roll my eyes at him.
     I took a walk.
     I could have sworn that I had seen our property a million times before, but I’m not so sure about that anymore. I looked at things with new eyes, knowing that where I live now, these sights are rare.

   Over our years living on this farm, I have seen the thirst in people's eyes when they visit us. They see the woods and the marshes and cattle and the birds and they itch to be in it, to see and experience it all. Their eyes glisten and they get excited, and you can just tell that they don't just want to be here, they need to be here.
I know this because that's why I'm here.


I have always been annoyed by radical environmentalists. Those who get in the way of American progress and the welfare of humanity for the cause of Mother Nature. People can’t go hungry or homeless just to protect the natural habitat of a handful of animals. But now I’m starting to wonder: is it so bad to protect a little bit of wilderness? Because now that I’m looking at it, now that I’m immersed in it, I remember one thing far too many of us have forgotten.

 This is our natural habitat, too.


I offer no solution because I do not pretend to be that wise. I just want you to think, and to see.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Six Weeks of Kittens: Week Two-- The power of pictures

   So I am just a little late in posting this week because I was doing some pretty heavy research--aka, rifling through closets and sheds and boxes to find the photos I wanted. There were so many photos. So. Many. And lots of floppy disks! Too bad they're obsolete because they are so cool looking.
    Anyways, last week I wasn't really home with the cats because I was at a wonderful place called 4-H University, an incredible camp where 4-H kids from all over the state could get together and compete in events, collect awards, participate in workshops, and run for 4-H state office. I learned so much more about 4-H and I would encourage all of you to look more into 4-H. But with that said, I was, thank goodness, hours away from the kittens all week.
   On Friday of last week I came home, and it didn't take long before my siblings exhuastedly shrugged off the responsibility of the kittens to me.
       They had gotten huge.
    I only had to crack the door open before they came shoving their way around me, trying to escape. The Breakfast at Tiffany's picture we had put outside the door as a makeshift baby gate was now too short for their rather mature leaping abilities and when they weren't scrambling over the picture they were eating the paper backing off of the frame. Which is a big deal, because that poster is the best thing I have ever found on the side of the road before. Once I made it into the room, the sight was...incredible. There was spilled kibble, litter, and water everywhere, all the surfaces were grimy and a very questionable color. There were things chewed up and scattered all over the floor, and the sink was on and the Siamese kitten was staring at it like it was a TV show. Just a moment later there was two kittens climbing up my jeans, digging their claws into my legs and pulling my britches down.
       Yay, cats.
   But it was then that I remembered a parenting method my mother had always loved. That method was this: if you find your kids (or kittens) acting unruly and you think you're going to kill them, stop and take a picture. Even if you don't see it then, one day it will be funny and, possibly, adorable.
   Mama used this theory even though she didn't believe it, and thanks to her we now have some priceless childhood photos.
             She took a picture when...
Arts and crafts time went a little-- okay, way--outside the box.

Her daughter was the prettiest princess at the party.
(this is probably the best picture of my sister ever.)

When Big Mac decided to make his own first aid kit from mommy's stuff.


When family pictures just weren't working out the way she had hoped.

when she was convinced that the tantrum. would. never. end.
(this is a photo of my record-breaking 6 hour tantrum. Over what? No one remembers.)

When it occurred to her what bath time was going to look like tonight.

...Or how expensive therapy was going to be.

When all she could do was stand helplessly as her son turned a pleasant field trip into his own rock concert.

...When she realized that we were just too cute to give up for adoption.

 Shenanigans not pictured:
1. Me crying because Farmer's Daughter made me eat nail polish
2. Farmer's Daughter spitting in a cup saying, 'Chew tobacco, chew tobacco. chew tobacco spit..."
3. Big Mac rolling in Nesquik on the counter
4. Big Mac rolling in toilet paper on the counter
5. Big Mac making Will Wonka's Factory by slinging wet Froot Loops around his room
6. Big Mac turning the thermostat to forty degrees for a day
7. Big Mac killing spiders by beating the wall with a hammer
8. Big mac practicing his plumbing skills by clogging our toilet--on purpose.
9. Big Mike having to smash the toilet to get the toilet unclogged

Needless to say, family mishaps one day become funny, and it turns out that is much better if you take a picture of the tragedy before intervening. What's any of the heartache worth if you don't have a picture of it?
         So I thought that if this method works on kids, it just might work on cats. At tonight's feeding, I went in armed with my camera and shot away.


In case you're wondering, it's not funny yet.