The Graduate

It’s amazing how far a person comes in their life. This weekend I’ll be celebrating my “graduation” from the Rural Leadership North Dakota program. “Graduation” seems so final, but I feel like this weekend is anything but final. I have had the privilege to get to know 30 people with whom I’ll have a lifelong connection. I’ve made some amazing friends while sharing some moments that can’t be recreated.

I’ve traveled across North Dakota learning about businesses that I didn’t even know existed. I’ve eaten North Dakota-grown food while being accompanied by some great North Dakotans. I’m humbled and question how I managed to sneak into such a high profile class.

We traveled to Minneapolis-Saint Paul and saw the effects of our state on the regional economy and then saw the national view when we traveled to Washington DC. During our awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping trip to Thailand and Vietnam, we were able to see first-hand the differences in agriculture practices, cultural differences and yet discover what we have in common with people who live on the other side of the globe.

Of all of the experiences I have had the opportunities to have, from standing on top of an oil rig, to handling just-shorn wool, to sipping on newly brewed beer, I have to say that what I will cherish the most from this class: the friends I’ve made.

If you ever have the opportunity to learn, stretch and challenge yourself, do it. You never know how many new best friends you’ll end up meeting.

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Don’t Swerve

Going into the holidays is a time to be thankful for those around you and remember those who aren’t.  My father passed away half of my life ago but I think of him still daily.  When I was learning to drive, I remember him giving me a piece of advice, “If you ever see an animal in the road: don’t swerve. Hit it straight on. We can replace a car, but if you swerve and roll-we can’t replace you.” I don’t make it a habit to plow down woodland creatures but that piece of advice has always been tucked away in the back of my brain.

Even if not driving, it’s a good piece of advice. When trying to achieve a goal, reach a destination or follow a path: don’t swerve. Anyhoo-

Yesterday after work, I drove my already-packed mom-truck to the gas station to top off and get road snacks. Then I picked up Miss E and Miss A, and we hit the road to Auntie H’s house.  The 260 mile trip ends in South Dakota. (I know, I know…at least it’s a Dakota)

Around 6pm it was dark, Sleeping Beauty was playing on the car’s DVD player, and I had calculated arriving at 7:15 if we could avoid anymore pit stops. I passed under exit 193, I passed the concrete pillar holding up the overpass, I saw him: a large whitetail buck running right in front of me.  I had less than 5 seconds and in my head I heard “Don’t swerve.”  I’m not sure if I said “Hang on” out loud or not but  as the buck passed in front of my driver’s side headlight, I could see the buck’s back, rack, the gleam of regret from his lack of depth perception flash in his eye, and then by the time he made it to the passenger-side headlight-he was gone. He hit. The seat belts locked. Broken glass. I pulled over at the end of the onramp; I didn’t see any broken glass but I could see my fender looking at me through the passenger window.

After a call to my husband, authorities, my sister, my mom(luckily she and stepdad were only 30 miles ahead, so the wait for a rescue was pretty short), and the insurance company, the girls and I made it to our destination an hour to an hour and a half late but all in one piece.

The mom-truck did its job taking the impact. We’ll find out the process and damage when business days resume, but for now I am enjoying being in my family’s company, eating way too much food, remembering loved ones who have passed before and enjoying movie snuggles now.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Don’t swerve.IMG_0265.JPG

Those Fricken Chickens

We have these fricken chickens. I thought they’d be a good opportunity to show Miss E and Miss A the circle of life, where food comes from, how to care for animals, blah, blah, blah, etc, etc…

The end-game for the chickens was to butcher. For those of you who have lived in a crystal palace of naiveite your whole lives, let me enlighten: butchering is the process of killing an animal for the purpose of eating it. I grew up on a farm where there was a lot of butchering and it helped mold me into the well-adjusted person that we find today…

Then Miss E fell in love. She fell in love with a little chick and named “her” Rosette. It turned out later that Rosette is actually a rooster and HE is also kind of the alpha of the group. So end-game changed from butchering the whole flock to butchering half. Rosette and maybe one other rooster and then 4 hens and 2 guineas would be spared, or “pardoned” as I like to call it.

Then one day, one of our three guineas disappeared. Now we are down to only two guineas. Then one day a black hen disappeared. These disappearances coincided with the noticeable move-in of a badger, or a family of badgers, as word spread about the free-range-chicken-fest over at the NoDakKelli farm and all interested parties should swing by. Then the other night after Hubby went to lock up the birds…well what’s left of them, he sent me a text from the kitchen “Rosette is missing”. Awwww crap!

Luckily Miss E has kind of lost interest in her chickens and last weekend one of the hens decided she was a threat to all chicken-kind and attacked Miss E, opening up her finger with her beak, so I thought-this is it: the butchering time is upon us. Through her finger-pecked tears, Eve told me that “They aren’t big enough yet!” When I suggested it was time to butcher the mean chickens.

Do me a favor, if you stop by our place, be sure to tell Miss E that we have big chickens. I’m starting to get hungry and I’d rather we are all onboard with this learning experience. If I traumatize Miss E into veganism, we are screwed. I only know of four ways to cook cauliflower.

Sick Day

Sometimes I dream of taking a me day. I dream that I’ll sip warm chai tea and loungingly peruse the newspaper. We don’t actually get a newspaper, but in my daydream it’s happening. In my daydream, I’ll toss my head back and laugh as I tackle a long-neglected project: painting the kitchen, scrapbooking one of the children’s baby books, organizing a gazillion photos, or maybe hauling out boxes of unneeded stuff and turning it into cash to fund a me-day: pedicure, haircut, or a shopping spree while sipping an over-priced iced coffee. Ahhh…perfection! That isn’t how things shake out though.

I had a “me day” yesterday. It began as most of my days begin. I awake before any other creature in my house so I can get myself ready before the other humans need to be gingerly coaxed from their beds with an array of coaxes like: “Good morning”, “Rise and shine, we are running out of time” “Hey GET UP” and finally “We are late AGAIN…can you PLEASE just get your boots on???” etc. Yesterday morning started a little differently. I woke up, went downstairs, started getting ready for the day, noticed I could smell EVERYTHING, like I’m pretty sure I could smell Hubby’s thoughts, and then I knew: I was sick. After feeling the oncoming nausea until I ended up screaming at our toilet, I realized I am sick.

There was no sipping chai tea, there was no newspaper, there was just hot-death breath and no longer having the will to be conscious. I helped wrangle the children and out the door they went with Hubby. I directly went to my phone, emailed my boss, and passed out on my bed. I woke up OVER 6 HOURS LATER, to a pounding headache and the realization that I had just slept for almost 15 hours(minus my 30-minute fun time where I puked and sent my family out into the world).

I found that the nausea only subsided when I lay in the fetal position, but the headache was only tolerable when it was dark and quiet, so there I was…not enjoying a “me day” but wondering what fresh Hell I’d found myself in where I could only lie in the dark or else run to the bathroom and every heaving motion caused my head to feel more like it was going to explode. So now I have tapped myself out of vacation time, I still don’t feel well, and I can tell you from first-hand experience: sick days are not “me days”.