When I was a little girl, I desperately wanted to live on a farm. I grew up in northern New Jersey in one of the towns along the Rockaway River. It was the big town for the local area - one where immigrants migrated to because there were good jobs in the form of factories making all kinds of things. The town was and is still dotted with brick factory buildings although sadly most of the manufacturing moved to the South in the 1960's, when I was a child.
A farm wasn't in the cards for my sisters and I and our dreams of having a pony in the back yard to ride quickly evaporated when The Mayor put the kabash on a letter my sister Lynn and I wrote to him. I still remember the headline that was in the local paper close to Christmas in 1970 - "Mayor Hedden Plays Scrooge." My sister Lynn and I were on the front page of the paper with our letter to The Mayor and the story told how Mayor Hedden had told us that even though we had a big enough yard for a pony, no livestock was allowed in Dover.
My pony dreams were demolished but one thing I did learn is that writing letters to important people sometimes....
A. Gets attention and an answer.
B. Can get you on the front page of the local paper.
C. Press releases still work.
I am still writing letters and I am constantly astounded when I do receive an answer from someone, especially in this age of instant communication that disappears into the ether. I am trying to teach Julia to speak her mind with the written word. By the number of fan letters she has written to Miley Cyrus, I think I am getting through.
I have once again digressed. So sorry. You are in for a treat today. On Sunday, my family and I went for a walk up the road. I had an ulterior motive - I needed a decent photo of an upcoming downloadable knitting pattern. I dressed Julia in her pretty pink coat, plopped the hat on her and off we all went. It was a slow walk because Mr. Hannah The Cat came along and as things go, there was a lot of chasing after him so that he would "continue the journey." The photos turned out great (thank you Julia) and I can't wait to share them with all of you whenever the pattern gets done. Don't hold your breath though.
We got about a quarter mile up the road..... and got way laid at our neighbors who were out in the yard doing chores and enjoying the sunny day and fresh fallen snow. Kayla is the daughter of our neighbors and she and her partner Tom are developing quite a nice herd of cows, both beef and dairy. I love to visit the cows - they are such large lumbering creatures - slow and steady and very photogenic.
I started messing with my camera and looked over at the cows. There was Julia and Kayla standing and staring at the cows, deep in conversation.
I was in hysterics (silent ones, albeit) because I thought they looked like a couple of old farmers talking about their livestock. Wouldn't you agree? The girls turned towards me laughing.
Kayla is 21 years old and one of the nicest people I know. She loves her cows and takes the best care of them. I asked her if she might like to be in a photo with "the stocking hat" which was the project of the day. "Oh, sure" she said, and on went the hat. Then she climbed under the fence and started conversing with her boy Ferdinand, who isn't a bull anymore.
Ferdinand was de-horned when he was younger so he wouldn't be too much trouble to be around. His horns grew back but only one has that classic curved shape to it. The other is a little stub.
Kayla asked me if I might want to have a photo of her riding Ferdinand. "Oh sure, that would be great." She climbed on up onto him via the bale of hay he was eating.
And then a sweet little lovefest ocurred - Kayla hugging and scratching Ferdinand. It was priceless and Ferdinand was in ecstacy.
Then Kayla asked me if I wanted a photo of her standing on Ferdinand. She said she had only tried it a couple times but she would be happy to try it again. "Oh sure, sounds like fun," said the girl from New Jersey. And on up she went. Isn't that just too much? How fun. Ferdinand just stood there, quiet and calm and barely moving as Kayla performed her trick of the afternoon, smiling the biggest smile she could.
We had a good little talk about what a great steer Ferdinand is. Not to be outshown, over came "Mama," Kayla's milk cow. By then Julia had climbed under the electric wire and was communing with the cows.
I was smiling the rest of the afternoon. It made me so happy that The Farmer and I are living where we are, giving this great farm and animal experience to Julia. I'm pretty sure she won't be living on a farm when she grows up but at least she will have these memories all her life.
When I was sorting through some folders on my computer the other day I found some photos of Julia with our first pigs back in 2003. I just love these.
They show Julia's joie de vivre and love of animals and her natural ability to be around them without the animals running off and being skittish.
Julia was five years old then and constantly covered with mud. Oh, how I would have loved to have a childhood full of farm animals living in my backyard. But now I seem to be living that dream through my daughter and sharing it here with all of you. We do not aim for perfection, we make it up as we go.
I feel so fortunate. Thank you Julia and thank you to My Farmer for bringing me here to this place on the planet and in my life.