Archive for January 28th, 2013

Winter Wonderlands


Old photo of the farm bell at the Slanted Little House.

Need some fun in the flakes? I’ve got some ideas for you! I contribute to Chevy Culture, a lifestyle and auto site sponsored by Chevrolet. Click through for the full article on Chevy Culture: Winter Wonderlands.

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No, There’s Not a Man on the Place


Yesterday, I took my old, dead tractor battery to an auto store to switch it for a new one. Adam had taken it out of the tractor and loaded it into the back of my Explorer a few weeks ago. It’s heavy–I can’t lift it. He told me to go into the store and tell them I had a battery in the back of my Explorer and ask them to come take it out. So I did. A man carried my tractor battery into the store and set it down to examine its replacement. He looked at the wall of batteries and asked another clerk to come over. They looked at the battery and looked at the wall of batteries. They asked me if it was the original battery that came from the manufacturer. I said, “I think so. I’m pretty sure.” They told me they didn’t have that brand, had never seen that brand, and showed me the closest they could come to its size. “How much wiggle room do you have?” The replacement they were suggesting was a couple of inches larger.


I said, “Can you carry that back to my Explorer?”

I’ve never looked inside the tractor and I have no idea how much wiggle room there is or isn’t when placing the battery. Feeling slightly frustrated so far, I stopped in at a farm supply store for a bigger water container for the horses. At first I couldn’t find any buckets bigger than what I already had, and couldn’t even find an available clerk who wasn’t manning a register. Eventually, I found someone to help me, texted for advice from a (male) friend, and managed to leave the store with a 110-gallon tank.

This morning, I’m going back to the auto store with Adam in tow, who does know how much wiggle room there is for the battery, and then we’re going to get lumber for the horse shelter.

Recently, I had a conversation with someone in which they came to a revelation, stating, “You’re running a farm and you really don’t know what you’re doing a lot of the time, do you?”

I didn’t take this as an insult at all (based on the conversation which led up to it) and neither was it intended as an insult, I’m sure. I felt myself beam. I said, “No, I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time!”

They said, “You like that. You’re smiling!”

YES. I like it. I love it. It’s an adventure. And I’m proud of it. Yes, sometimes it’s frustrating. I’m a single woman managing a farm. I am not mechanical or mathematical or constructional or tool-ish. I have to be shown repeatedly how to do simple things that I don’t understand and which don’t come naturally to me, and there are some things I don’t even want to understand, I just want to point to a hired man and say, solve that.

Am I proud of being dumb about some things? No. I’m not proud that there are many things I don’t know or understand. I’m proud that I manage in spite of it. No one can know everything, and there are many things I do know and do understand. And for what I don’t know, I find the will and the way to overcome. Those things still scare me–and there are problems today that need solved, that I don’t know how to solve, that scare me. But I will find the will and the way to overcome them–even if, and probably if–it means I need help, which is the hardest thing for me to ask for.

I do not run this farm alone. I run it on the wings of hired men, neighbors, friends, and family who help me. (Mostly hired men because I don’t like to ask for favors, or even take them when they’re offered, unless it’s an emergency or necessary for some other reason.) Over the past more than a year that I’ve run a farm by myself, I’ve adjusted and learned how to manage the seemingly unmanageable. That doesn’t make me feel any less as if I’m running this farm. I know how to get help when I need it because I can’t build it or lift it or figure it out, and I work to make it happen or, sometimes, give up a little pride. And every time I’m standing in a store and don’t know how to buy what I know I need, I know that maybe next time I will know better.

Or maybe next time I won’t.
But in either case, I will still be standing.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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