Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

What’s in a Word?

As we welcome November and the promise of cooler weather, turkey leftovers, and family gatherings, we also enter the official spokes-month for gratitude.  A time when we take a personal inventory of all that we are grateful for – from people to things, jobs to homes, children to critters.  All of us have something to be thankful for, even in our darkest moments, and for many of us we can swell up with a feeling of being blessed.

But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this word blessed.  No doubt it’s trending right now – you can find it on everything from dish towels to picture frames.  And it’s a perfectly good word.  But it’s also a word that I think we sometimes get mixed up with grateful.

You see, blessed is a passive word, whereas grateful is an active word.  Someone gives you a blessing, but you have to take an action to be grateful.  Being grateful is a decision.  We are fond of saying that God has blessed us.  And trust me, I wholeheartedly believe He has, but maybe just not in the way we think.

Now if you feel like I’m on the edge of blasphemy here, please stick with me. I promise this will turn out okay.  

Let’s say you have a beautiful home and a good job.  It’s easy to say, “I’m so blessed.”  But here’s the flip side.  Is the person who lost their job not blessed?  The person who is working two jobs just to make ends meet less blessed?  

Or think about how often you’ve heard the phrase, “I’m blessed with good health.”  Great, but does that mean the person who has cancer is not blessed?  That they somehow incurred wrath from somewhere?

I can hear you thinking, “No way.  That’s not what I meant at all.”  

And I’m with you.  What we really mean is that we are grateful for our homes, our jobs, our health.  And we would never want our gratitude to be confused for the belief that we have somehow received divine preference over our neighbors.

Blessings are something that we, the collective humanity, share.  Nature and life itself are blessings.  Things we can all enjoy.  I, personally, don’t believe they are doled out to a few, and I don’t believe they always look like we would expect them to.

And while this may seem like a game of semantics, words really do matter. (Yes, I was an English major, so humor me with this one for moment.)  Think about someone whose world is falling apart.  If you are busy talking about your blessings, things that are received, where does that leave them?  It leaves them feeling like they are walking around under a dark cloud, out of sorts, out of favor.

Rather, share your gratitude.  Your zest to acknowledge all that is beautiful, from the smallest to the greatest moments.  Trust me, I am a recovering blessing user myself.  I used to liberally smatter blessings here, there, and everywhere.  But after reading an article about the importance of our words, I realized I was truly filled with gratitude.  I wanted to wish people a beautiful day, a day with at least one moment of happy, and leave blessings to the big guy.

So as you start to make your plans for family dinners, school activities, and get togethers with friends, I encourage you to think about those words that are most meaningful for you and those you love.  How will they impact others?  How can you share your gratitude?  

P.S. A version of this post was published in the Glen Rose Reporter.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Smashing Pumpkins (not the band)

Okay, I’m going to admit it. We have not one itty bitty bit of pumpkin decor out at the farm.  No farmhouse steps lined with white pumpkins and mums.  No pumpkin spice latte in the percolator.  Somewhere in the garden shed is my pumpkin welcome sign, which I may or may not bother to dig out.  We’ll see.

As I scroll through Instagram, I see tons of tablescapes, porchscapes, and all kinds of farm-y scapes filled with pumpkins and leaves and just the right amount of bling.  And did you know if you are decorating with pumpkins, the traditional rich orange is not your only choice?  They come in all shades of sage green and cream so you can artfully blend them with the carefully crafted farmhouse look.

What’s the farmhouse look?  As best as I can tell, it’s furniture slip covered in white, a little bit of distressed wood, a little bit of metal, a few antique-y things, and grey, beige, and white everywhere else.

It seems the concept of farmhouse is all the rage these days.  I get it. It’s lovely and dreamy, and the Fixer Upper people have turned it into a lucrative business (seriously, that’s great for them).  But for most of us living in the country,  these pics are not even close to reality.

So for a little fall fun, I thought I’d debunk a few of the fall farmhouse decor myths, at least around this farmgirl’s humble barndominium.

White sofas – Who are we kidding with this one?  Yes, it’s lovely.  And yes you can bleach it, but heaven help me I’d be bleaching daily.  It would remain white for all of two seconds before Maybelle bounded onto it with wet paws or a black cat decided to make it his scratching post.

My Farmtastic Life - Rhino the cat and Max the dog
This right here is why we do not have white sofas. If it’s not washable and can take a little dirt, it’s not happening at the farm.

Pumpkins by the dozens – Yes, pumpkins are great.  But thanks to Starbucks and their PSL (pumpkin spice latte in case you’ve been hiding under a rock), pumpkin flavors and pumpkin decor are E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.  And while folks used to get one pumpkin and carve it with the kiddos, the photo worthy farmhouses filling up my Instagram feed look as if they’ve had an 18-wheeler of pumpkins delivered. Seriously, the last time I had a pumpkin, it was lovely, right up until I left it outside, sitting too long on the porch bench, and well let’s just say it was not pleasant when I picked it up.  And on a side note, I seriously do not remember all of this pumpkin crazy when we were kids. Our moms handed us the plastic pumpkin to go trick-or-treating, we watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and called it good.

Accessories, lord honey, accessories – Look, we all love to decorate our houses. They are expressions of us.  For Cowboy and I, it’s a mix of things we’ve collected over the years.  Lately, though we’ve been on a real pairing down spree.  Why?  Because country living is dusty and messy.  That’s right, when you live in the country with gravel driveways and large fields, well dust is just a fact of life. And while I truly adore all of those perfectly accessorized rooms, it’s just not practical.  Not to mention, with dog tails wagging and cats climbing, things will get knocked over, broken, and worst of all, eaten. (And on that last one, if eaten stays down and doesn’t come back up or out to haunt you in another way, well then that’s a good critter day.)

Perfect porches – Now this one speaks to my heart of hearts.  The porch is my home. I am out on my porch daily.  It’s my happy place.  But it does not constantly look like I am ready to host tea.  I don’t have rugs and fabrics swathed all around.  Why, you ask?  Well, first of all, the aforementioned critters.  Heck, I’m lucky if I can keep Maybelle from digging up my potted plants, or, worse, eating horse apple snacks.  That means it’s slim to none, I’m going to keep fabrics pristine outside.  Pillows?  Let’s just say they’d be gone with the wind.  After two summers of chasing chair cushions around the pasture, I finally wised up and bought ones that tie to the chairs. Brilliant!  There is nothing like riding the tractor around the farm, weaving between horses, looking for chair cushions. Oh and what decor is on my porch right now? A snake grabber and a shovel. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

Now I say a lot of this with fun and jest.  We love fall and all the joy that comes with it. And I’m sure pumpkin something or other will appear at the farm before this season ends. (Seriously, all of this pumpkin madness has to be a real boom for pumpkin farmers. Two points for that.)

And to those farm style bloggers who can whip up some amazing decor and inspire us all, more power to you.  You are some amazing folks. However, if you are reading this and are a bit more like this farmgirl, i.e. likely to be wandering around doing chores in an old t-shirt, jeans, and muck boots, your house slightly disheveled, the only white decor that stands a chance is your washable wood trim, and critters rule the roost, it’s perfectly okay.

Don’t feel guilty.  Don’t think you have to run out and fill your grocery cart with pumpkins and somehow stack them with  hay bales and mums in a way that is oh so extra.  Don’t spend hundreds on craft supplies to make the perfect tablescape that is destined to be chewed on by the cat.  Instead, enjoy your farm (or cottage, or house, or apartment), and whatever fall means to you.  Drink a PSL if you like, or go rogue and drink a Dr. Pepper from a glass bottle while sitting barefoot on the porch reading a good book. (Personally, I pick cozy mysteries every time. )

And for all you ladies who make it looks so easy, God bless you. I do love the inspiration.  But when I look at my own farm pics on Instagram, I have to remind myself that pumpkins and white sofas are just one of the many ways farmgirls can decorate our humble abodes.  For the rest of us, washable denim and a can of Libby’s pumpkin will have to do.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 6.21.54 PM
Okay we have one pumpkin on the farm. But seriously – how can you not love this crazy girl? #maybellethemagnificent

P.S. I totally recognize the irony of writing this on the eve of visiting the Magnolia Silos. Maybe I just had to assure my wacky farmgirl self, who while not the quintessntial decorator, is still quite okay.  At least in the eyes of Cowboy and the critters, and that’s all that matters.








Adventures Away From the Farm · Farmtastic Stories

We Came for the Giraffes

Fourteen years ago, Cowboy and I came to Glen Rose, Texas for the very first time.  As big time animal lovers, we had heard about Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and decided to make an overnight trip of it. We had absolutely no idea that one little overnight stay would change the course of our future.

On our day at Fossil Rim, we took a behind the scenes tour, rode around in an open-air Jeep, snapped tons of pictures (with actual film!), and made memories at every turn.  And then we saw them.  The majestic giraffes.

A combination of gangly grace, long eyelashes, and sticky sweet tongues.  I had never been so close to these amazing creatures, and I was quickly falling head over heels in love.  Our guide, the legendary Jan Bussey, parked near the herd and shared her knowledge and passion for Fossil Rim while we hand fed these beauties.

Oh my stars.  I think I could have parked there all day head pointed up, hands outstretched, smile plastered across my face, and heart leaping for joy.  I had found my spot.

Cowboy and I never forgot that trip. In fact, living in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex,  Fossil Rim became our go-to daytrip for birthdays, anniversaries, or just a day out.  We brought friends and family.  We became ambassadors, telling anyone who would listen about the landscape and critters of Fossil Rim, most especially my beloved giraffes.

Not too long after we began visiting Glen Rose, Cowboy and I started looking for land, an escape from the city.  We looked far and wide, even as far north as Oklahoma.  We saw little pieces and big pieces of land.  Some with houses, some without, and some with houses that weren’t long for this world.  Looking became our weekend occupation, as we bumped along miles and miles of country roads.

And then one day, Cowboy looked at me and said, “You know, I’m not sure why we’re looking all over the place.  Wherever we go, we are going to have to drive to Fossil Rim, so we might as well be close.”

Have I told you that man is a genius?  So just like that our search was narrowed to the tippy top of the hill country, where the deer and the giraffes roam.  

And the rest is, as they say, history.  Ten years ago we bought our dream place, and seven years ago we built our barndominium and moved into Wild Horse Valley.  We filled it with our own little zoo of horses, donkeys, cats, and dogs. And we still love to visit Fossil Rim, and even volunteer when we can.  In all these years, it still takes my breath away.

In fact, October is one of my absolute favorites at the Rim.  The weather is cooler, the animals are frisky, and if you time it just right you can catch the European Red Deer in rutting season and hear their soulful bugling across the park.

My Farmtastic Life - Giraffes at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
A friendly giraffe coming to say hello. If you look closely you’ll see several in the background, and also a gaggle of European Red Deer relaxing in the shade.

It’s easy to take for granted sharing your town with giraffes, rhinos, and cheetahs, but it is truly a gift.  If you are in the area, I encourage you drive on out to the Rim, soak up some sunshine, and sit in wonder of our tall neighbors. But I must say, be careful.  You may come for the giraffes and find yourself staying for so much more.

P.S. A version of this post was published in the Glen Rose Reporter.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.