Other stuff about the farm and your's truly!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Small town life: love it or hate it?

I was born and raised in a small town. Growing up, it wasn't worth trying partying or doing anything that might get me in trouble, because my mom would find out before I got home.  There are pluses to it.  You usually know who you can trust, you know who the "problem folk" are and for the most part its a positive experience.

In my case, I was also born into a long-time pioneer family.  We were kinda the black sheep of the family, with my great-grandmother marrying and moving "away", 20 miles north.  One of our distant cousins actually told us she wasn't sure if my grandmother should be buried in the pioneer cemetery because of that.  My mom married my father, who was born and raised 35 miles south.  What all this "marrying" stuff means is I have a lot of relatives around here, both by blood and marriage (my family members aren't known for long term relationships, but that's another story).

This means that I know a lot of people.  My husband and I both have jobs that are pretty involved with the residents in our community.  My husband often makes decisions regarding people that aren't popular (no, he's not law enforcement) and people assume that he tells me all about them.  Nope, he doesn't. Its a confidential thing and he doesn't violate that.  I work with kids and while there is confidentiality in my job, its definitely not as strict.  We've both experienced people contacting us at our home, by phone and by social media on our days off to ask work-related questions.  It bugs him a lot.  In his case, people are trying to take advantage of "knowing" him to get something in return. It doesn't bug me as much because before I was hired, I was an active volunteer in the organization so people called me a lot anyhow.  I'm trying to establish some "guidelines" for only contacting me for an "emergency".  It's going to be a while before it's really in effect.

I am a recovering alcoholic and I don't hide it.  I screwed up in public, why should I get better in private.  This means that there is gossip.  Even after 15 plus years, now and then it raises its ugly head.  I try not to let it bother me, and I'm working on not getting sucked into the gossip. Easier said than done, but I'm trying.  Our family isn't perfect, but neither is anyone elses, so there... (I'm sticking out my tongue like a kid here saying "nyah-nyah"). I don't hide anything I do. I even got a business license for selling farm products like veggies, eggs and fruit in our small town. I didn't have to do that because I could hide it all or make people come over the city line.  I don't work like that and I don't have respect for people that do.  If you are going to accuse me of hiding something, especially here in my home town, you better have proof.

I got a call recently saying that someone had heard that I'd turned someone into the local "welfare" office for selling eggs.  I told them #1, I know 3 people who sell eggs besides me and none of them are on assistance, #2 I don't play games like that, #3 people need to remember that what they post on facebook or social media does get seen by caseworkers, so I don't need to report anyone and #4 I don't have time in my life to turn someone in for stuff like that.  I also told her that it was probably someone who'd had a run-in with my husband at his office and they needed to realize that we don't talk about his cases.  He does his job and he's good at it, often people don't like that.

After I hung up, I started laughing.  One of the worst things about small town life is that people often try to use things against others, to hurt them.  It sometimes works, usually it doesn't and thank goodness I've learned to turn the other cheek.  We stay home a lot , we have a close group of friends we socialize with and unfortunately, we keep to ourselves quite a bit.  It's part of life in a small town and while I know I could never live in a big city, sometimes I wish I lived where no one knew my name.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Silent Sunday

Day 3 after surgery

Day 7

Day 20

Lyndsey and Scout (who lets a college sophomore buy a horse-this mom)
              Going to only have one bed of tomatoes this year.

Baby heifer "Coffee" on the left (Lyndsey named her Coffee so that she can name a baby "Decalf") and Moo on the right.

Our old boy Bo passed away right before Steve's surgery.  I finally am having time to miss him.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Changes aren't scary...

I had an epiphany the other day. It's been a long couple of months, starting in mid-March.  I had a conference for a week in Portland (6 hours from home). From then until now, I was gone at least once or twice a week, out of town.  From an amazing two nights of concerts in Portland to a week of hubby's open-heart surgery in Medford (scheduled and planned) to moving my sister back to Gold Beach, it's been hectic to say the least.  We lost our old dog, Bo, who had a great, long life, but I didn't get a lot of time to mourn him (I finally found time to put flowers on his grave the other day).

I knew it was going to busy but I really didn't think it would get to me much. I've been sober now for a long time (almost 16 years) and though I don't enjoy chaos, I've always functioned pretty well in the middle of it. And I did handle it well.  I didn't overdo or try to take on extra stuff and thanks to the generosity of friends and family who provided meals and a full couple of days of farm chores, there wasn't a lot of extra stuff at the farm.

After it all seemed to be quieting down I started getting ready for summer.  I work for 4-H, which is an amazing program for youth.  Summer is one of our busiest times because we have a 4 day, 3 night camp, a few 4-H shows (horse, livestock and static (crafts, sewing, robotics, cooking, etc) topped off with our local county fair which 4-H will be a part of, helping with events, etc. I have some great co-workers and we have some great volunteers who will help with all of this.  I have full confidence it'll go smoothly and for the most part, I'll have fun doing most of it.  After all, there was a reason that I used to take time off from my jobs to volunteer at these events.

Hubby is healing well from his surgery, though it's slow process.  It means that a lot of the stuff that he usually handles this time of year isn't getting done.  We have an amazing group of friends who are more than happy to step in and rototill the garden, etc. But that still means that the seeds will need planted, the weeds will need pulled, the crops will need harvested and then processed.  Last year I planted 3 long rows of green beans to sell.  That meant they needed picked every couple days, along with the zucchini, the cucumbers and so one.  It was crazy.  Then of course all of it would need to be canned, pickled, dehydrated, etc.  Of course there is all the other stuff I do.  It's stuff I love, but the thought of how busy it keeps me after work and on the weekends just scared me right now.

I started to panic, just a bit.  Well, maybe feeling overwhelmed is a better term.  How could I keep up with it all.  It was depressing.  Little things that I normally would have shrugged off made me nuts. I was feeling sad, I was cranky.  I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide.  Then I realized something.  I don't have to do it all this year.  We can plant the basics that we want, a row of green beans, a row of snap peas, a couple of tomatos and some cucumbers that will need harvested a couple of times.  Then I can plant some drying beans, pumpkins (for decoration and cows) beets and carrots and maybe try some wheat. I know, this sounds like a lot, but once it's in the ground it won't have to checked on a regular basis and it will only have to be harvested once.  That leaves the blueberries that will need picked, but I plan on having all the wonderful people who've helped us out during this crazy time enjoy our harvest.  When the apples and pears get ripe, I'll do the same.  That way I won't stress about it going to waste. The smaller tomato bed will produce plenty for us to enjoy.

It's hard for me.  For some reason, doing all this stuff (which keeps us so busy) makes me feel so good about myself. I feel successful, accomplished and prepared.  But I'm realizing that it's okay to change things.  Especially if it means that our stress level declines for a few months.  We are good at what we do, here on our small family farm.  We are lucky enough to have our oldest daughter, her hubby and the cutest grandson ever live on the property right now to help out where needed.  Steve can focus on his recovery, I can slow down and smell the roses a bit.

I may still feel a "tug" when I realize that we might not accomplish all we usually do this time of year. I bet we get through it with a lot less anxiety, fewer quarrels and more fun.  It'll be part of the simpler lifestyle I've been looking for. Then I'll decide from there what we can or want to do next year.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Feeling overwhelmed by stuff... Part 1

I can't pinpoint exactly when I decided I needed to breathe.  I needed open spaces and clear countertops.  I needed my head clear and my housework load lightened. I had stuff, a lot of stuff.  I wasn't really a hoarder, but I was definitely protective of my "stuff".  I mean, what if I needed it some day?  I had backups of kitchen appliances in case one broke, I had extra towels, lots of stuff.  I collected cookie jars at one time, sheep and angel figurines.  I did this when we lived in a small house and when we moved into a bigger house, I got more stuff.

A few years ago my older sister had a stroke.  Over 3/4 of her house ended up stacked in my two car garage.  We could not open the door all the way, it was so full.  I started sorting through the boxes after we realized she would not be able to live on her own.  I knew that she had always "bought stuff" to feel better, just like I did, but I didn't realize how bad she had gotten until we had to throw out about 30 pairs of flip-flops in various states of wear, from almost new to worn through.  She had knick-knacks, lists of "stuff" she had bought at auctions and never unpacked, etc.  It was sad and disheartening to see.  It was harder knowing that I went shopping to feel better and was slowly heading down the same path.

I did some research and read a lot of books and articles on "de-cluttering".  Most of the authors said that it was better to purge quickly.  Pull all of your belongings out, dump them in the middle of the room and start tossing. Get rid of any "extras", limit what you have in each room, etc.  That didn't make sense to me.  Getting rid of all your stuff fast, like ripping off a bandaid, might clean out the room but it didn't fix the problem.  I would just acquire more "stuff" to try and fix whatever was wrong with my emotions. So I started slowly...

Awhile back, I decided to start using more metal, glass and wooden things.  This meant that when I would clean out a kitchen drawer I could get rid of all the plastic serving spoons (some of which I had triple of).  I moved all of my dry goods from plastic containers to glass jars.  As I started putting things in bags and boxes to take to the local thrift store or to the dump, I started feeling something.  It was a sense of relief, almost of freedom.  It felt good.  But it was just the beginning...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

What's been happening in my life (in photos)!

We lost our old man, Bo.  I miss him so much.

Officiating at weddings, because I believe in love and marriage.

Third time I've seen Home Free in concert.  

Hubby had open heart surgery (planned, not emergency)

I didn't lay a hand on him!

Baby Coffee

Youngest (a sophomore in college) bought a horse

And with Hope, Joy and Faith, I will live my life!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016


I am a volunteer! Have been all my life.  I used to volunteer for things that I didn't like, but that was before I learned how much volunteers need to believe in and enjoy what they volunteer for.

A few years ago I decided to volunteer for the things I liked, the things I believed in.  In the past communities worked together to help each other, to get things done, to hold events and gatherings so that everyone could participate.  Somewhere along the line that changed. Our society in America started becoming lazy, with a "what about me" attitude.  That elderly neighbor who's lawn needed mowed?  Only if they pay you, right?  Or the fundraising event that you are going to? The people who put it on probably are getting paid (wrong).  If the quality went downhill, it certainly wasn't my fault that there weren't enough volunteers to help.  I was busy, right?  I mean, I work, I earn money.  And if I don't work? Well, volunteering is for the old folks, the ones who are retired. Maybe you have kids and you feel like you shouldn't be expected to help out, you're busy.  I never had this attitude, because I like to help people.  I like knowing that I can do something for others.  That my contribution counts for something.  

What's the key to volunteering? Here's what works for me.  Find something you like and believe in, maybe something that affected you when you were a kid.  Do you really like dogs?  Or cats? Find a shelter to help out at.  You can be a "foster" for an animal that needs some social skills.  I could do that, but my husband wisely won't let me (he know's I'd never let them go-not to mention we already have 3 dogs).  Maybe you really like mountain biking or running? I bet that there are others in your community who are out there creating and maintaining trails or putting on fund raising events to help others learn about the sport.  Don't volunteer because you are guilted into it.  Well, it's okay to do that once or twice, because maybe they really need help.  Volunteer because you do get something out of it. I don't mean something material (though if they want to feed me while I'm there, that's always a plus).  I mean something that makes you feel special, happy and valued.  Because trust me, you are.

Another thing: Don't be afraid to say "sorry, I can't help with that right now." You do have a life separate from your volunteer time. And if you feel overwhelmed by the requests for help, speak to the person in charge.  Burned out volunteers are not a good thing. Do you have friends who complain that their kids spend too much time in front of screens (TV, Computer and Phone)?  Encourage them to take the kids with them and volunteer somewhere. What a great family activity, plus you're teaching your children how important it is to be a part of their community. 

Don't know where to start?  How do you find out if a project, group, event, etc that you are interested in needs volunteers?  Call or send an e-mail, drop by with a plate of cookies and ask. It's that simple.  Some organizations have gone so long with the same crew of volunteers that often times there is a feeling of resentment when "newbies" join.  Don't let that discourage you, and if it continues, talk to them.  Or make your own volunteer job. Do you notice that there is always trash on the roadside when you drive home?  Grab a trash bag, put on a bright colored shirt or coat and pick it up.  Do you like helping senior citizens, or visiting with them?  I bet there is a senior home close by with someone who doesn't have family.

Volunteering and being a part of your community is important.  Too many people have the "it's not my responsibility" attitude.  If each of us spent 1 hour a week volunteering, a lot of great things would happen. You can gain important skills for future employment, meet people and get new friends and change things.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hectic, crazy, overwhelming life!

I am not gonna lie. I'm a homebody.  Don't get me wrong, I love to go places, bigger towns and cities where there are different places to eat, shopping and different activities to do  But really, my ultimate weekend is one where I pull across the bridge on Friday after work and don't cross it until Monday morning.  I love company, but solitude is my best friend.

It started in mid-March. Conferences, trainings, trips to the doctor, dentist, a concert out of town (same band two nights in a row) and mom's weekend at OSU. Somewhere in the middle of it will be a major surgery for a close family member and moving my big sis from her current assisted living home to one here in our hometown.  Thank goodness for close friends who are helping with the move.  The same friends will help with anything else I need at the drop of a hat, which is so comforting.

I'm feeling like I've got a handle on it, I have a mental calendar in my brain of what, when and where I'm going to be over the next few weeks.  On the other hand, I feel on edge, like I'm standing on a very steep cliff and the wind is blowing hard against me.  I fight the wind, I stand straight and tall, tightening my resolve so that I am not blown away, into the depths.  I used to feel like I could handle chaos, that I thrived in crisis. After years of struggling to discover the real me, I find reality scary.

The truth was, it was a "drug" to my depression, it made me feel alive.  I drank to push the darkness away, to feel happiness.  Using chaos and crisis kept the fear from overwhelming me. I choose not to embrace those anymore. That makes it hard during times like these, when things are happening left and right. I want to stand and scream and just say "I'm not doing it", "I quit" and "Leave me alone".  But that's not real life. Sometimes things just happen this way, everything at once. I can't avoid it and if I tried to, it would be worse.

Do I have an easy solution? Nope.  Can I change it? Nope, not right now. It's just what's going on in my life. So I need to accept it and do what I can to ease the crazy.  If a chore that isn't critical to the farm doesn't get done, oh well. If I go to bed and read a book a couple hours earlier than normal, it's okay. I'm listening to my body and my mind.  That will keep me sane and sound, able to take care of what needs done and the others around me.

Is it a perfect life? No but it's my life! And it's full of hope, joy and faith!