it’s a [good] conspiracy

Well, right as I was walking out the door this morning to the field, I got a call. To be honest, I couldn’t quite understand it all, but I did get, “We’ve gotta work on the … and we won’t be up ‘n runnin’ right ‘way this mornin’ … I don’t know how long it’ll be … but I’ll give ya a call.”

I’m kinda bummed. I had my lunch ready and my coffee almost in the travel mug. I’m more bummed because this is a perfect morning for harvesting. Clear skies, sunshine and a chance to break out some serious layers to shield off the winter-ish breeze. I guess I’m even more bummed thinking about Eeyore trying to figure out and fix the problem in time to tackle the rest of that 90 acres like we planned.

On the flip side, I’ve got a little time to write. I’ve been farming by day and nannying by night, so I’m nearly worn out when I finally settle in. Yesterday was particularly stressful because Eeyore came over the radio, “Hey, Caroline? Why don’tcha follow me ’round …I’m gonna outline this field and I’ll dump ‘long the other side there … This’ll be a real test of your driving skills … I don’t want you hitting corn, but I don’t want you fallin’ in the river either.”

On the radio I said, “Tests make me nervous!”

In my mind I said, “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT “TEST”? This whole thing has been a test and I’m not just talking about my emotional well-being after returning from a developing country to be rejected by countless jobs and still uncertain of my place in the world. I’m also talking about driving a tractor at all. Now you’re telling me I’ve got to squeeze into a six row path with certain death on one side and certain employment death on the other?

Of course, I went. And he wasn’t kidding. I felt certain some of the corn was unfairly leaning out in my path and the steep ravine was unfairly jagged and unpredictable. With nothing short of near-hernia, I made it and felt pretty accomplished.

This whole thing (being somewhat professionally stuck) could be a big conspiracy to keep me humble and I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t fighting it. Speaking of conspiracies… when I’m not following Eeyore around in the tractor or cracking jokes with Partner, I’m either reading or writing or doodling or all three.

I’ve already started writing/doodling my Advent Conspiracy list! If you don’t know what Advent Conspiracy is, check out the video below. The idea is that Christmas ≠ consumerism, so our preparations should reflect that. If we give gifts of presence (time together), then what we treasure is each other and not just something in a box! I also try to make most of my gifts (which can get tricky for the boys in my family) and this year I have a new source – Pinterest. There are so many clever and crafty ideas – from baked goods to stuffed animals from old gloves! Anyway, apart from enjoying people more and tapping some of the creative genius we all try to ignore, we also save money by giving this way. The Advent Conspiracy suggests there are some really amazing things we can do with it!

[AC] Promo 2011 from Advent Conspiracy on Vimeo.

So, maybe it’s a good conspiracy that I’m farming… and even that I’m able to take moments like right now to process … and apply for yet another job.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

rained out

Well, this morning started out soggy, but I had “high apple pie in the sky-y-y hopes” for harvesting… and then I got to the “far north side of the field by the cow field” and walked the muddy way to the tractor. A couple hours after I got there, we had to pack up and leave because the rain seemed so persistent.

So, I traded my cheese sandwich for grilled and my bottle of water for steaming coffee and my walkie talkie for a laptop and the firsthand farmer lingo for a secondhand re-telling. After my “10 things I learned in Iowa harvest” post spread around the family like fire, I realized if I target the Midwest audience, then my readership could explode! Not that I care about how many readers I have… it’s just funny to me that I can write a blog pretty regularly and the biggest response I get is from my comical/embarrassing experience with Iowa farmers.

I thought I better at least take one more shot at sharing my perspective on farming (since the rain is keeping me from the fields). I’ve learned a few more things since that post…

  • First, the farmer (Eeyore as we call him) is not so sure his identity is as concealed as I promised. Within hours of my post, he came over the radio, “What’s this Eeyore business?” and I responded, “I don’t know, you tell me. I didn’t put any names in there…” pause “Well, e’rbody’s figured it out then…” Sometimes, I just giggle because I don’t know what to say. So, just to make things clear – I have not given any names and the names that are given are changed to protect the innocent. That goes for “partner” too. If my descriptions match someone you know, it is only by coincidence.
  • Second, I drove with my cousin (the third grader who is qualified for my job) and I’ll be honest – I was nervous. I thought he’d get in there and push all the right buttons and drive circles around my anxious jerking. Well, turns out I can sleep a little better at night knowing that he’s not quite ready to take over.
  • Today, I am proud to announce I moved up in rank (of course I’ve made up ‘ranks’ so it feels like I’m getting promoted and if you’re about to question it, don’t – it was my birthday last week). That’s right. Today, I got to drive another tractor and it was different in every way. The transmission was a gear shifter, the buttons were all in different places. There was A – F and then 1-2-3-4 in each letter. The clutch is essential is this machine and oh! I forgot to mention that there is a very large obstruction in the form of loader arms right where I count the 5-6 rows out for on the go loading. I got a 5 minute tutorial from my partner and then off I went, picking up a load on the go. I haven’t told Eeyore, but I’ll expect a badge tomorrow.
  • So, partner and I cover a pretty wide variety of subjects between the tractor tutoring and the unloading. I’ve been storing advice on WAY more than tractors (he’s probably trying to forget the things I say). He’s also super encouraging, like when I learned the new tractor today he said, “Well, hey! You’re a natural,” even though I was obviously struggling. He said that people just assume girls can’t do things like drive a tractor, but he says he can teach anyone. I also know now that it’s harder to load corn on the truck on the road because it’s level and that dry corn unloads like water. I know that you can go 40 mph in a truck chasing deer in a field and I know the human body is capable of a 24 non-stop road trip (and much other anecdotal advice). I know that he doesn’t like my weird music and that a certain pair of jeans with holes will always be my “sunday jeans” (because they are hole-y). I have to share one conversation that (he would say) reveals a bit of the blonde farmer in me:
    “I hate it when people call me Carolyn. I mean my name is obviously Carol-ine so people should pronounce it that way.”
    “How is your name spelled?”
    “with an i-n-e”
    “C-a-r-r-o-l-l-ine?”
    (joking) “Yeah, C-a-a-r-r-o-o-l-l-i-n-n-e-e”
    (blank stare)
    “No, of course it’s C-a-r-o-l-i-n-e”
    “Well, that’s not how I would spell Carroll”
    “Oh, well that’s how I spell my name – C-a-r-o-l-i-n-e. How would you spell Carol?”
    “Well, my aunt’s name is Carroll and she spells her name C-a-r-r-o-l-l”
    “Well, that’s not how I spell my name!”
    “That’s not how my aunt Donna spells her name either”
    (long pause and puzzled look and then serious)
    “Well, that’s not even the same letters!”
    (laughter)
    “Hey!!! No blonde jokes!”
    and so go our conversations….
  • I wish I could record how the grumblings go over the walkie talkie. I’m working up to a real good impersonation and it’s kind of scaring me. I can’t decide if I’m copying what I hear or if it’s actually starting to be how I talk. I can carry on a good five minute conversation about yields and head rows and moisture and fields and weather. I surprise myself (and then I realize I don’t really know what I’m saying and so I’m not a complete farmer yet). Here are some funny things I’ve heard over the radio:
  1. “Well, it’s pretty rough in here… better unload there at th’ end.”
    Translation: You’re good, but you’re not that good. I’m not taking chances on your driving, but I want you to think the field is responsible.
  2. Me: “Sorry about that, I was SO close but SO far.”
    Eeyore: “Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.”
    Me: “I’m not good at those either.”
  3. Eeyore is waiting with auger out, ready to unload.
    Me: “We had to cut a tree…”
    Eeyore: “Cut it or pull it out at the roots?”
    Me: (Oh, crap) “Uh.. well, we cut it but pretty low down”
    Eeyore: “You gonna come back next year ‘n cut it again?”
    Me: “Well, that sounds like pretty good job security I guess.”
    Eeyore: “Sounds like a government job.”
    Me: “That’s why we’re broke.”
    Eeyore: “Yep.”
Well, I guess I might as well make an apple braid today. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe and today seems like the perfect opportunity to put some fresh Michigan apples to good use! And, yes. I will be cranking the Christmas music – I firmly believe there is NEVER a wrong time to sing “O come all ye faithful.”

What will you do to
let LOVE fly like cRaZy
today?