Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Country Living Is the Life For Us

My Farmtastic Life - Cowboy Mowing the Pasture
Farm life – Cowboy spending 7 hours bumping along mowing one field. That’s a lot of seat time. Love my man on a tractor (and a dog in the field).

Neither Cowboy or I grew up on a farm or in the country, so this great big, wonderful farmtastic adventure we’re on is just that – an adventure.  We were children of the ‘burbs with neatly mowed yards, cul-de-sacs, and sedans.

I’m not entirely sure why we were drawn to the country life, other than the peace and quiet and limitless critter possibilities. (Okay, that one is totally on me.)  Truth be told, Cowboy does have what he affectionately calls a people limit, i.e. he prefers to be around as few people as possible as a general rule. (I still often wonder how I got so lucky to be his person.  Regardless, I’m grateful.)  So I guess all of those things together, combined with the fact that I simply believe God knows where each of us belongs, landed us in the country.

If you knew me back in my high school days, I would have told you I was headed for big city living, a high-power fancy job, and maybe someday I’d get married in my thirties. Holy Batman was I a little wrong.  Just a little.  The truth is I could not be happier to be wrong.  I don’t think any of those things would have brought me the true joy that Cowboy and I now share.

I am one of those people who believes that everything happens for a reason and that God has a grander plan.  Now don’t get me wrong, things aren’t always peachy and the reality doesn’t always match the lovely Facebook photos that everyone shares.  Heck, I even recently heard that no one shares the B side of their life.  (Remember records and tapes?)

We’re all busy posting and sharing and cultivating our images.  And honestly, I love seeing everyone’s happy moments and sharing ours, too.  But it’s important for us all to remember that real life is messy, sometimes wonderful, and always changing. And often times not what we expected.  And that is okay.  Truly, it is okay.

Seven years ago this summer we moved into our barndiminium with grand plans of building a house.  The house never came, and we still live in our barn apartment and have found real joy in pairing down, focusing on our hobbies, and filling it with critters. (Again, that last one is probably more me.)   When folks ask if we like country living, my standard response is, “We wouldn’t trade it.  But it is more expensive and more work than we ever imagined.”

My Farmtastic Life - Fixing the Fence w/Duct Tape
When you have to fix a busted board and don’t have an extra one lying around, fancy duct tape will have to do. (Not gonna lie, for half a second I thought about wrapping all the fence boards in this. Maybe just a tad over the top.)

What are some of the not so Instagram worthy things on a farm?

  • There is always, and I mean always, a long laundry list of things to fix – from horse water troughs to fences. Seriously, what’s with the fences?  Guessing 1,000-pound equines are a contributing factor.  Who knew?
  • You must have a tractor and all of its implements.  Cars, schmars.  Tractors are where it’s at.
  • Critters are crafty and sneaky and smart, which translates to more broken things and more money.
  • There is always something to scoop.  Cowboy says no more things that poop are allowed on the farm.  Guess we are now limited to pet rocks.
  • Travel is limited – someone has to watch the zoo.
  • Weather – hot, freezing, or monsoon season we are out in it slip sliding away.

Are these things terrible?  Absolutely not.  They are just part of farm living.  Am I complaining? No way.  We are grateful and we know lots of other folks who would like to have the chance to give farm life a try.  So why share this?  To simply say this is not where Cowboy or I thought we would be, but we are grateful it is where we are.  It’s not always simple or easy. There’s tons of moments that are not social media worthy or appropriate.  But it’s our wonderfully wacky life.

Thanks for letting us share our story with you and for continuing to read and follow along.  We hope that no matter where you are, you can find the beauty of the moment and see something you never quite expected.

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Country Driving

Cowboy and I have always loved a good road trip, but since moving to the farm, it’s hard to get away for any length of time thanks to our lovable menagerie of critters.  Don’t get me wrong, the farm is where our hearts are, but sometimes a girl just needs to feel a little wind in her face.  So every once in a while, Cowboy and I will climb in one of the vehicles and go for a jaunt.

Today was one of those days when I just needed to clear my head and go for a spin.  And country driving is just the thing to put a smile in my soul.  Windows down and music turned up, we went cruising down the backroads.   And what I really love are all of the beautiful little moments that are happening in life right before your eyes if you will just look up (yes, from your phone) and notice, really notice.

My Farmtastic Life - A young farmgirl on her first roadtrip
That’s me at 4 years old on a cross-country road trip. Daddy thought it would be hilarious to stand me on the side of Route 66 and have me thumb it – with my purple suitcase and my baby doll. I guess my love of the road started early.

I saw an elderly lady wearing garden gloves and digging in her glorious bed of irises.  I saw a big sister pulling her little sister in a wagon, while little sister took in the view and enjoyed a sippy cup.  I saw cows napping, horses of every shade munching spring grasses, and a baby lamb leaping and tripping to keep up with its mama.

I saw sleepy towns waking up, and shopkeepers opening their stores, hopeful for good business.  I passed oodles of horse trailers hauling four-legged best friends for a day of adventures.  RVs and campers passed us in droves headed to campgrounds and far away places, as we’re just starting spring break here.  I even spotted a few Texas bluebonnets in bloom, a sign that spring is definitely sprung.

There truly were beautiful little moments all around.  Everyday moments that some might say are nothing special, but it’s those every day moments that can bring real deep down, feel it in your toes kind of joy.

I try to be a positive gal, and somedays I’m successful and somedays not so much.  But when I need to clear my head, there’s nothing better than a little four-wheel-perspective.

 

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

The Mutual Admiration Society

I’ve been a self proclaimed daddy’s girl my whole life, just ask my momma.  Whether we were riding bikes all over town, building science projects in the garage, or dancing in the living room, we were pals, friends, and playmates.

My Farmtastice Life Photo - Dancing with dad
Dad is a fantastic dancer – the one thing I didn’t inherit was his rhythm. But he humors me and last year we went to a ’50s dance and laughed all the way through.

In fact, my dad has called me his buddy all of my life, and to this day, he’ll throw his arm around my neck and whisper in my ear, “You’re still my buddy, aren’t you?”  Yes, a thousand times yes.

This week Dad turned 78 years old – it just doesn’t hardly seem possible.  I’m so grateful that he is still healthy, mischievous, and full of life.  In lots of ways, I’m his mini me.  From the awkward gate of my flat-footed walk to my wacky offbeat sense of humor.  Truth is,  there is nothing I love to do more than get him belly laughing and crying over the silliest of sillies.

Even growing up, I could wiggle myself out of trouble with the slightest of smiles.  More than once I got Dad to crack up, only to say, “Hey Dad, you can’t punish me if you’re laughing at me.”  We’d crumble into a heap of giggles.  Bless my poor mother, as this is not when she found either of us amusing, trust me.  Dad’s soft spot meant mom had to be the disciplinarian, and I’m so grateful she was.

Dad had to travel a lot for work, but when he was home he was a one-man jungle gym and entertainment center. I rode on his back to bed while he whinnied and neighed, most of the time busting up into giggles before we could make it down the hall.

He’d take me to his work as a mechanics training instructor on the weekends, where I’d set up his classroom, draw love notes on the board, and wheel around the shop on the creeper.  To this day the smell of grease and old books is a smell uniquely dad.

My Farmtastic Life Photo - Dad and horses
Dad dreamed of being a cowboy from the time he was a child. He loves nothing more than being around horses – and they love him.

Probably the greatest legacy he has given me is my love of all things four-legged. I swear that man would live in a barn and sleep on a bale of hay to be near a horse.  He loves to blow in their noses and soak up their scent.  He’s got a calm around the critters that I appreciate.

He’s our resident ranch hand around the farm when we need a watchful eye over the critters.  On those rare instances when Cowboy has not been here, I’ve called Dad to help me put medicine in a horse’s eye, de-skunk a dog (seriously not fun AT ALL), and even kill a snake or two.

Truth is that Cowboy and I took the risk to buy the farm because of stories Dad told about how he wanted to live in the country, but never quite got all the way there.  How in life sometimes you have to take a risk, so you don’t look back and wish you had.  We’ve had the land 10 years this summer and lived here for 7, and I really can’t imagine it any other way.  Another one of dad’s telltale fingerprints on my life.

My Farmtastic Life Photo - old family photo
Our little family – we were and continue to be a close little bunch. I can almost promise you that dad was making me laugh in this pic. Mom insisted he come to all picture sessions – she said it was the only way to guarantee I’d smile.

There are moments when I become fully aware of just how precious life is, and overwhelmed with gratitude for the rock my parents have always been.  Don’t get me wrong, life is not perfect.  We’ve had our arguments, hurt feelings, and frustrations, but above all I have always known how much I am loved.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

So as my dear dad starts his 79th trip around the sun this year, I watch in awe and wander at his kindness, his humor, and his love.   There is none other quite like him, and I’m so blessed that he is my dad. Momma has often called us the mutual admiration society, proclaiming that to be a member you must think the other walks on water.  And I guess that is true.  I love you, buddy!

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Valentines Schmalentines

I got a text from Cowboy last week that said, “Happy National Spouses Day!” To which, I replied, “Who knew!” And my quick-witted better half quickly typed back, “Evidently I did.”

This is just one of the many exchanges we have that just makes me laugh and love him all the more.  As I’m sure I’ve covered in past posts, Cowboy is not much of a holiday guy. He’s more of a live-love-laugh-every-day guy.

To be fair, I can pretty well guarantee you that he was not waiting on pins and needles for this day.  He simply saw a post about it online and beat me to the punch.  He’s also one to poke you in the ribs at 2 a.m. on Christmas morning to wish you Merry Christmas and chuckle that he told you first.

It’s always been this way with us.  Laughter is a big part of what makes us tick.  And as you can probably tell by the way I write, I think humor is a darned important part of life.  I mean seriously, when you live with 16 critters it’s a requirement, not an option.

Which brings me to the fact that we are on the cusp of February – the month of love. You know the holiday I mean – the annual chocolate-rose-love fest known as Valentine’s Day.  Let’s face it, this day just requires a little humor.

Back in the early days (I mean like when my age started with the number two early days), I used to have silly expectations about the importance of this occasion.  As if a gift or a dinner or moment would feel extra special on this day.

My Farmtastic Life - Cowboy on a Tractor
Cowboy just doing what he does – taking care of us. Love!

Looking back this just flat out perplexes me, and these times were certainly not my finest hour.  The truth is that Cowboy loves me, and has always loved me, every single day.  He’s a man of actions, and not so much of words.  To prove my point even further, the song that always makes me think of him is the classic country tune, When You Say Nothing at All.

It’s the little everyday things that mean the most.  Like when he cares for the horses or washes the car or just knows when I need a hug.  He’s truly my better half.

While I’m sure he’ll be oh so delighted to make this appearance on the blog (he may be funny, but he’s also pretty private), I write this to all the gals and fellas out there that are setting themselves up with great expectations during this season of candy hearts and pink balloons.  Give your other half a break.

Look for the little things – like the special language only the two of you share.  Be grateful for each moment – even if it’s a 5-minute chat as you fold the laundry.  Most of all – laugh together.  Especially on Valentine’s Day, because seriously it’s a day whose mascot is a chubby baby with a bow and arrow.

P.S. – A version of this post was published in The Glen Rose Reporter under the title of Laugh, Love, and Laugh Some More.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

No Need for Kennels

First things first, I don’t write about politics.  I was recently told I could/should, and let the record show, that’s not my cup of tea.  I don’t talk about which side I am on, because I’m not much for taking sides.  End of story.  But I do love to write about the critters, and I’m always amazed at what we can learn from our critter friends.  And in this week of political crazy, it’s no different.  I don’t know about y’all, but I’m ready for my Facebook feed to go back to puppies, horses, and friends’ great family pics.  I’m also ready for the news to find something else to talk about.  Period.

Unless we are darn near besties, I’m not one to talk about politics.  As my momma taught me, discussing religion and/or politics in most situations is just not the most polite thing to do.  And while I truly love the Internet – it lets me share stories, keep up with friends, and have a livelihood – I do think we have forgotten how to be polite to each other when we are on it.  (Yes, I’m not the first one to make this revelation.  But I do think it’s worth noting again, given our short attention span these days.)

All of my life, I’ve had friends from all walks of life, who hold all manner of views – some far left, some far right, some sitting in the middle, and some clear off the reservation in their own little world.  But the fact is that I love them all – as my fellow human beings.  (It’s also a reason I don’t often fit into groups, but have friends across groups.  As I’ve been told in the past, I’m not a joiner.  But I digress … .)

Folks have a right to their views, and I respect that.  As long as you don’t force your views on me, I’m even willing to have a nice discussion.  I’ve always loved to learn what makes people tick.  (And yes, some of us are down right cuckoo clocks, but still, I find it interesting nonetheless.)

Which brings me back to the critters.  You see, the critters at the farm all have to learn to live together.  We’ve got cats and dogs, and we don’t separate them or kennel them for everyday living.  We’ve got mares and geldings (that’s girls and boys for my city friends), and we don’t tell them who’s boss or how to share or which one is better at running or opening gates or listening.  We let them figure it out.  And, miracle of miracles, they do so just fine.   Now don’t get me wrong, every once in a while someone hisses or kicks or bites, but it’s temporary.  They made their point, and they move on.

So I come full circle to social media, news, and all of our various ways to scream our point of view from the mountaintops.  Let’s all try to be a little more polite, a little gentler, and remember that all of our friends don’t always see things the way we do.  And honestly, isn’t that a blessing? I mean how boring would my life be if all my friends were just like me. Lord knows, one of me is enough.

So while it’s probably not realistic to ask everyone to keep their commentary to themselves, I would ask us all to find a little bit of politeness and  ask ourselves, “Is this really necessary? Is it kind? Does this help my friends truly see my point of view, and am I open to hearing theirs?  Does this alienate people I care about?”

We can all be true to ourselves and also be kind. I’ve never once in my life found that browbeating someone who does not think like I do to be a successful method to share my point of view.  In fact, it does just the opposite. (And trust me, I’ve been on the wrong end of some serious browbeating, and it did nothing more than make me dig my heals in, and I still carry the scars.)

So as we all go into this new era, for better or worse, no matter your side, let’s keep it civil. Now, I know every once in while there will be some kicking, hissing, and biting, but let’s keep it to a minimum.  Because, at the end of the day, we all have to live and work together, and no one wants to be put in a kennel.

My Farmtastic Life Photo - Maybelle and Willie
One of my favorite pics of an unlikely pair of friends – Maybelle as a crazy playful pup and Willie as a wise old crotchety kitty, rest her sweet soul. Maybelle made Willie a little more spry, and Willie taught Maybelle a few more manners. Sharing our life lessons – isn’t that what we want from each other?

 

Farmtastic Crafting · Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Cultivate a Vision

I’m a consummate list maker.  Heck, even my lists have lists.  To be fair, I come by this trait honestly, as my momma is probably one of the most organized people I know.  When Cowboy and I got married, A LONG TIME AGO, you should have seen the lists my momma carried around, and it worked.  It was a perfect day for us.

So as we go into 2017, you might imagine that I’m in full on list mode.  But the truth is, a list of New Year’s resolutions always baffles me.  Of course, I could, like most folks, add the usual suspects – eat less, exercise more.  But that also brings out my recovering perfectionist side.  The moment I miss a workout or a piece of chocolate just throws itself into my mouth, my brain screams epic fail.  One of my dearest pals subscribes to the notion of a theme.  He picks a theme for the year, like adventure, and focuses his efforts on making progress against the theme.  I’ve always admired that, and even tried it, but once I get past January and a couple of journal entries, it’s c’est la vie to the theme.

My Farmtastic Life - Vision Board in Progress
Clipping away – I ended up with more words than room, which forced me to get down to my faves. Also, you will make a mess. It’s okay – just enjoy the process!

Which brings me to Cowboy.  (Good gravy how I love that man!)  Cowboy is not big on the holidays of any kind, never has been.  And while at first that might make you go, “Awe, shucks.  Really?”  I’ve come to love this about him. He’s been known to say, “Why focus on <fill in the holiday of your choice>, when you can experience love/gifts/joy all year round.  What would you rather?”

So that got me thinking about New Year’s and a way to do a little something to mark the occasion that would work for me and alleviate my need to check things off and truly just live – live in the moment. Enter the vision board. While I had never done one before, I had heard about them from friends and usually equated them to grand things you’d like to accomplish like buying a new home or getting that next promotion at work.

I didn’t read up on how to do them or take a class, which is monumental for this girl who loves to know how first – think of me as that lovable 4-year-old asking why and how.  Instead I just bought a frame, some scrapbook paper, some stickers, and picked through my magazine stash and starting clipping out words, phrases, and pictures that meant something to me.  And what I found was that it wasn’t really the big things.  In fact, it’s the little things, and a lot of them I already do.  What I was thinking about as I snipped, arranged, and glued was cultivating the vision for the life I wanted to live this year.  Loving Cowboy and this farmgirl life I get to live.  Writing more stories, crafting, cooking, digging in the dirt.  Sharing moments and treasuring those special friends that I hold close in my heart.  Giving back, paying it forward, and being a woman of faith and grace.

Sometimes the new year does not need to bring monumental change, but rather a reminder to live the lives we were meant to live each day.  As Cowboy would say, happy new day.

My Farmtastic Life - 2017 Vision Board
The finished product – so many words that just speak to my soul. Wishing you all a blessed 2017!

P.S. – If you’d like to make a vision board, here are a couple of tips if you also have an inner 4-year-old.

A few things you’ll need:

My Farmtastic Live - Vision Board Supplies
Some of my favorite vision board supplies – really you can use anything you’d like.
  • A frame – I chose 11″x14″ but any size will work
  • Magazines or books you are willing to cut up with abandon
  • Scissors – the ones that make decorative edges are my favorites
  • Glue stick
  • Scrapbook or craft paper to be your base
  • Stickers, stamps, markers

To get started:

  1. Cut your paper to the size of your frame.  I had to tape two pieces together.  Don’t worry, if you’re like me you’ll have so much on your board the seam will never show.
  2. Cut out words, photos, images that make you smile and speak to your heart.
  3. Arrange and glue.
  4. Frame and place in a spot where you’ll be sure to appreciate it.

If you decide to make a vision board, we’d love to see it, so please share away.

P.S. – A version of this post was published in The Glen Rose Reporter under the title of Happy New Day.  It’s the first in a monthly column I’ll be doing for the paper as a community columnist.  A dream come true for this farmgirl!

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Christmas Cards, O Christmas Cards

2016 My Farmtastic Life Merry Christmas card
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from two- and four-leggeds on the farm!

I read a blog post today by a dear soul who was lamenting the guilt heaped upon her when she receives Christmas cards, and it got me to thinking.  At the farm, we’ve been hit or miss with the sending of cards.  Some years I stock up on boxes of them only to pack them up with the Christmas decorations, unsent. And sometimes I’ve unpacked them the following year only to pack them up again. (Please tell me that I am not alone here!)  Other years we’ve designed them online and sent them out.  Woohoo!  Right now we are batting two years in a row of getting them out – and that feels like some sort of record.

But what really made me lose a little of my holly jolly was thinking that this fellow human felt guilty for not keeping up.  I get it. In the age of Facebook, Instagram, and heaven help us Pinterest, it’s easy to go down a spiral of feeling less than – less crafty, less joyful, less, less, less.  Let’s face it, we could all give ourselves a little break.

So why do we send out cards from the farm?  Mainly, because we want those near and far who have touched our lives in some way to know that during this time of year we are thinking about them.  It’s really just that simple.  There are folks on our list who I worked with in my 20s (not yesterday folks), and others who I knew as a child, and still others who help us with this crazy farm life.

Our lives our not perfect by any stretch. Holy cats just read our blog to find out what crazy antics these critters keep us busy with.  If we’re not scooping poop, we’re stepping in it.  But the truth is, in this big crazy world, we are blessed.  Blessed because there folks who care about us.

So when you open your mailbox and find a Christmas card, or (gasp) a Christmas letter, know that the sender just wants you to know they are thinking about you.  That you are not alone. You are not forgotten.

Listen, I’m not saying that Great Aunt Sally isn’t bragging like a maniac or waxing poetic in her Christmas letter about her kid’s promotion to head fry cook, or her granddaughter’s successful run for band president, or sharing how her cheeseball took first place at the county fair, or heaven forbid sharing her third husband Larry’s latest ailments. But let out a big guffawing laugh, be grateful for your less eventful 2016, and find comfort that she thought about you – in her own crazy way!

So if sending Christmas cards is something you find joy in, then get out the stamps and the glitter stickers. And if not, that’s okay too.  From all of us at the farm, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a blessed New Year! Cards or no cards.