Other stuff about the farm and your's truly!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Who am I?

I'm feeling a bit out of sorts, uneasy, rattled, I really don't know how to put it best.

It's a few weeks until fall, my favorite time of year.  It's already started here on our little farm.  The leaves are turning and are drifting onto the ground.  There is a crispness to the air and the horse is starting to get his winter coat. The apples are ripe and ready to be stored for the winter, in pies put in the freezer, dehydrated for snacks, made into juice or sauce and canned, tucked away for the rainy nights.  My youngest daughter and I have watched Hocus Pocus a few times already, even though it's only the first week of September.

I think part of my problem is that summer flew by. We had 4 pretty major 4-H events followed by our county fair and then a trip to the state fair.  All lots of fun and I love my job but I think I spent one afternoon on the river bank. The garden got way ahead of me and I know that there was a lot that got "lost".  Luckily we have livestock so at least it got eaten by them and not wasted.  I did sleep outside on the back porch a lot, which was great.  I got to spend time with some great friends, hang out with my grandson and see a couple of concerts at some fairs. I'm not complaining, but it just doesn't seem like summer was even here. *side note, I set up the tent on the front porch and will probably sleep there til it gets too chilly.

Now the busy season is over and it's time to recharge and start planning next year at work.  It's time to think about preparing for winter, maybe some sewing, reading a few books and being a little bit of a hermit. Normally I'd be super excited about that.  But I'm feeling kinda low... Maybe it's because Lyndsey is heading back to college to start her junior year at Oregon State. We've been lucky having our youngest home the last two summers. It makes me feel like I'm no longer a "mom" which I know is super silly.

I've been continuing getting rid of stuff and I love it.  It makes the house feel cleaner and life feels easier.  Baby steps, it's taken years to accomplish what I've done so far. I like feeling like we could live in a smaller space without too much inconvenience.

I just need to breath, slowly.  No sudden decisions or fast moves.  Take my time and don't overreact. I've been in this type of mood before (17 years of recovery will do that to a person) so luckily I've learned how to handle it.  And the first thing I always do is acknowledge it and talk about it openly.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Resolutions: 50% success

Wow... all of my resolutions for the blog have kinda gone down the tube.  I planned on writing regularly as a way of "purging" my mind of all the crazy stuff that goes through it, sharing wise words about our farm and other important things. 


But, on the other hand I vowed to start living a simpler life, minimalizing our belongings (hard to do on a farm) and enjoying experiences.  Buying "things" used to bring me a false feeling of "happiness".  It was hard to enjoy experiences because I felt so guilty.  I know, silly huh?

That is slowly changing.  I have worked hard on getting rid of "stuff" slowly, so that I don't have to worry about remorse.  It has made the house easier to clean and I feel lighter.

We went to a music festival for the 2nd year in a row.  After we'd bought tickets, camping space and car parking last summer (we split it with friends), I started thinking "what an idiot", why did I spend the money, etc. After a while, I just resigned myself to the fact that I messed up.  Fast forward to last Friday as we drove to the venue 45 minutes away. We were loaded down with junk food, I'd packed books and magazines and work stuff.  The year before I'd gone and watched all the acts.  This year I just went and saw the ones I wanted to see (Kenny Chesney was amazing, by the way). The rest of the time was spent in our camp, sitting around and visiting, people watching (the girls in their super short dresses or fake cowboy hats, trying to keep the skirts down and the hats on) the drunks (now that I'm sober they are fun to watch). I didn't do a bit of the stuff I took with me to work on.  I didn't help cook as much as I should have, but I helped clean up.  It was amazing.  Wanna know the best part.  In the past I would have headed to the different vendors and spent way too much money on shirts that I would never wear beyond the concerts or the hats with all the bling.  I was looking for one thing and when I couldn't find exactly what I wanted, I walked away.  I didn't buy a dang thing (other than really bad-for-me food at the booths). I ate cotton candy one night for dinner.  It was so freeing.  Yes, I spent more money on the event and food than I should have.  But it bought myself a great experience. I only took a few pics because so many others were taking pictures and videos that I can watch later on if I want. 

Trust me, coming away with no "spending" guilt was amazing.  And so I'd say my resolution was a success.  And I plan on continuing, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Our fear is what's overwhelming us... and it's being fed by media.

Normally I do not share my political or religious views. I have always felt that we are all entitled to our own beliefs as long as we do not cause harm to others.  But I am so saddened and disheartened by all that has happened lately in our country.

People are full of fear.  Fear of each other, fear of change, fear of the unknown. We point fingers, we accuse and we hurt others.  Those brave men and women who have sworn to protect us are being threatened, harmed and killed by the very citizens they promised to protect. And yes, innocent people have died at the hands of the police.  I believe that many of those deaths were a result of the officer's fear.  The media has twisted the truth so that the criminals appeared to be poor, mislead youth who were simply trying to protect themselves.  Yes, there are "bad" officers who may feel that their "title" gives them a false power.  But I do feel that those are few and far between.  The media has worked hard to convince everyone that we must fear the police. We have allowed our views to be skewed based on what they show and tell us.

It's not just black vs white, rich vs poor, Christian vs Catholic (oh wait, lets change that to Christian vs Muslim because that is the one being focused on) that we fear.  I see it becoming any sort of difference, from something as simple as lifestyles (farm vs city) to sports (Ducks vs Beavers).  We have sunk to new lows, believing that we can say whatever we think, no matter who we might hurt.

It's time to stop, now.  We must not let the media or the government influence us.  We need to focus on our community, our families, our neighbors. We need to go backwards, live a bit simpler, a lot kinder and think about the little things that matter.  Life is meant to be lived, not feared.

I don't know about you, but I don't respect our politicians or those in power.  I am not proud of our country. I can't bear to watch the news or read a headline because it's all focused on the negative. I am rambling here, but I had to get it out of my system so I can move forward...

Join me in breaking away from the fear...

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What being ordained means to me...

I'm ordained.  My official title according to the Universal Life Church is "minister".  The word is a bit deceiving.  According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary (on-line version):
Simple Definition of minister
: a person whose job involves leading church services, performing religious ceremonies (such as marriages), and providing spiritual or religious guidance to other people : a member of the clergy in some Protestant churches: an official who heads a government department or a major section of a department in some countries (such as Britain): a person who represents his or her own government while living in a foreign country.
I don't do any of those things, other than what might possibly be called "performing religious ceremonies (such as marriages)".  

I've only performed 4 ceremonies to date, and they were all totally different from each other and not religious in any way.  The first ceremony was for a couple who'd spent many, many years as a couple and wanted to have the financial benefits of being married.  The second was on Halloween (no costumes), very private and simple, though the bride was amazingly stunning. The third ceremony was for a young lady that I have known all of her life. She and her fiance, who was a member of our armed services got married in jeans on our property. The third ceremony was larger, more dressed-up (except we were on the beach and barefoot) and the mother-of-the-bride attended via cellphone and face time as she'd fallen right before the wedding and was at the emergency room.  

I knew the first couple casually and the second and fourth I met through social media Each wedding was beautiful in it's own way, the love each of them felt for each other was palpable. After each ceremony, I've felt honored to be able to have a part in such an intimate and vital part of two person's lives. I don't usually meet with the coupleahead of time.  I talk with them through facebook and on the phone, finding out what kind of ceremony they want.  I don't stick around afterwards. It's a time for close friends and family, not some woman who spoke a few words and said "I now pronounce you..."
In today's "throw-away" society I hope with all of my being that everyone whom I join in marriage stays together.  I was divorced from my first husband after 5 years.  I'm not proud of it, but it does happen.  When I married my second husband, we made a vow to each other, to fight for our marriage and believe in our vows.  We have been through a lot, including my alcoholism and subsequent "recovery", a separation, problems with ex's, financial struggles and much more.  We have managed to come out the other side, still together and stronger than I thought we could be. It's not perfect. I'm sorry, no marriage is. But if you love someone enough to marry them then you owe it to yourself to work on it.  
Not gonna lie, part of the reason for becoming an officiant is financial. It's a fairly low-key way to make a little extra money. I am also a notary public.  People need services like officiants and notaries and are willing to pay for them.  I make a little extra cash and provide a simple, stress-free option.  But I have a responsibility to provide a ceremony that fits the individuals involved.  It's my responsibility to make sure the paperwork gets filed as soon as possible and that no mistakes are made.  
It's providing Hope, Joy and Faith in a crazy, busy world. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Use the fancy soap!

Or the good towels or grandma's china or all those other things you're saving for that special time.  I don't have good towels anymore (hubby likes bleach) and I got rid of Grandma's china because we're too rough on our dishes.

But the fancy soap is getting used.  You know the soap I mean, right?  Someone gave you a bar of fancy smelling soap as a gift.  They probably stood in that store or at the farmers market and sniffed every bar, with all the fancy names, like "Orange Sunset" or "Pine Forest Breeze". Made with Oregon rain water, organic goat milk, raw honey, etc.  They are amazing soaps.  They smell amazing and they lather beautifully.

I now buy fancy soap for people as a gift.  It is a necessity in life (there is always dirt) and I take time to find a scent or a type that fits their lifestyle.  Gardener's soap for my farming friends, lotion bars for friends who do a lot of rough work with their hands and beautifully scented soaps for special people.

As a kid and young adult, when I got fancy soap, I'd spend a couple of days smelling it and then tuck it away into a drawer to make my undies and t-shirts smell nice. Or, I'd set them in a decorative basket on the bathroom counter.

Eventually they dry up, lose their smell and while they still get the dirt off your hands and body, they don't lather up nicely.

Recently my mom asked me if I wanted these.  I said yep, because number one, I'll be "frugal (aka cheap)" and use them, number two, someone cared enough to give fancy soap and last but not least, they look sad.

Please, use the fancy soap.  And carry that with you in all aspects of your life. Let it become a life lesson. Don't wait for things to dry up, loose their beauty and their function. That includes you and your soul, your body and your mind. 

With Hope, Joy and Faith for you.

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.