Saturday, June 22, 2013

Long Eared Coyote Clobberer

June 21, 2013

Today is Brian’s last day working in Florida.  I am sure he will not accomplish much, but it will not be due to lack of trying.  He is stalwart in his duties and will try to fit in every last meager morsel of work in between the well wishers who will be streaming into his office to bid farewell.  Last night he brought home a 2” stack of congratulatory cards and accolades, and today promises more of the same.  One piece of correspondence he received this week was from a friend who was also employed at the college and had recently moved to Central Florida.  Her new home could not accommodate the animals she had in rural Northwest Florida, and she was willing to not only give us her two donkeys, but also deliver them to us.  My first thought was, “Why in the world would I want donkeys?”  My background and family of origin have given me the narrow scope of viewing anything as either of value or valueless.  Keeping horses?  Valueless.  Keeping cows?  Of value.  You see, I cannot milk or otherwise utilize anything from a horse, but cows and chickens will satisfy many of my family’s nutritional needs.  Therefore, I determined the donkeys were valueless, but maintained we would keep them because I wanted my friend to know her donkeys were in a place where they would be well tended. 

Part two of this story, or How the Donkey Gained Value:

I have been friends with Carey for, oh, my entire life.  After we grew up, Carey married and moved to her little piece of heaven in Georgia.  I remained in Florida until this year, at which time I will move to my own Eden.  Occasionally we see each other in person, and this week was one of those rare and serendipitous occurrences.  Carey is raising chickens (look up “The Backyard Coop” on Facebook to check out Carey’s recent chicken escapades) and was extremely interested in the farming we were planning in Arkansas.  I mentioned in passing our friend Lucy’s request to keep her donkeys.  She emphatically stated (“emphatic” is an absolutely perfect word for Carey; she speaks with prosody) that donkeys are the perfect deterrent for bears and mused on how much more pleasant life at her house would be if she did not have that pesky bear breaking into her porch and staking claim on her dog’s kibble.  Carey’s mom, who was also visiting (their family is just lovely) caught the tail end of the conversation and told me how wonderful donkeys were at keeping away coyotes.  Well. Score one for donkeys, and bring on those long eared coyote clobberers!

This morning has been spent tidying up inside and out in anticipation of a 4:00 showing.  As a going away gift, one of our friends gave us a statue of St. Joseph (see to bury in our yard in an attempt to quickly sell our house.  I feel rather odd burying St. Joseph face down in my front yard, but was thrilled to see he had baby Jesus in his arms.  St. Joseph buried in your yard until your house sells + Jesus rising again in three days = our house will sell in three days.  Catholics.  We are traditionalists, not superstitious.  J

Friday, June 21, 2013

In the beginning…

Once upon a time there was a young boy who lived with his parents and younger brother in a tiny little town in Indiana.  They truly had a family homestead with his grandparents living next door and nine cousins, all approximately his age and all boys, living in close proximity with their families.  The boys grew up in each other’s houses, sleeping and eating wherever they found room.  The habits formed in these early years continued into the boy’s life, and as an adult he still prefers to eat and sleep on the floor.  

Chicken love
In the meantime, the young girl in this story grew up in a totally different atmosphere, with one of the few similarities being the physical placement of her extended family.  Her upbringing was more traditional by today’s standards, with both parents working full time while she and her brother made up part of the newest generation of “latchkey” children.  Once a week the two children would walk home from elementary school to their grandmother’s house. Their time at Grandma’s was extremely different than time spent at their own home, although surprisingly the distance between the two houses was a mere mile.  Grandma had a half an acre of fertile land where she grew a small amount of crops, and her two grandchildren would drop their schoolbooks at the front door and run outside to pick sweet ears of corn and eat them standing a short distance from the garden, the juice dribbling down their chins.  Grandma also had livestock.  At any given time, the yard was awash with the feathers of chickens, geese, and ducks.  The young girl had the pleasure of collecting eggs from the chickens, which adored her and even abided her brother, who loved squeezing the chickens in delight.

Fast forward fifteen years when the young boy and girl met, fell in love, and married in short sequence.  Their lives reflected the quintessential DINK (dual income/no kids) lifestyle, he self-employed until he began his career at the sheriff’s office; she working in a customer service position.  The money began rolling in more quickly than anticipated, and their lifestyle suggested the transition: a new car every year and lavish Christmas presents to their family members.  Soon, though, they realized money was better invested in the future than the present, and after ten years of marriage, they decided to buckle down and pay off the house, sell most of the vehicles (they were collecting cars and trucks much like others collect coins), and begin thinking about the next generation.  Using only the husband’s paycheck for daily expenses, the wife’s entire earnings were earmarked entirely for house payments.  Their fifteen-year mortgage was paid off in seven years, and within a few months they announced the blessed news of a new family member arriving near Christmastime. 

Raising a family became the wife’s new full time job, and after the birth of their two sons and daughter within five year's time, it was evident that momming was secondary to teaching.  The children, it was noted, all had different learning styles and none seemed perfect for a traditional school setting.  After much contemplation, it was decided that homeschooling was the best option for the burgeoning family. 
The husband changed careers once more and entered the field of education.  The wife determined that teaching was her calling and wanted to better educate her children.  Both parents returned to school; the husband eventually earning a doctorate in education and the wife earning a master’s in education. 

But something still seemed to be missing.  Where were the chickens of the young girl’s youth?  Where was the young boy’s family camaraderie?  The town they lived in twenty years ago was now much more sophisticated, yet their past was still calling them.  How could they meld their present lives with their past?  The answers are near.