Community

One of my favorite things about December is the annual Christmas play put on by the homeschool drama students of our valley, including my own children. The kids do an outstanding job, and the parents help in various ways. One of the biggest by bringing homemade food because two of these performances are dinner theaters meant to fundraise for the drama department. This is how we have such fun props and costumes.

I love watching my middle son perform, he’s got talent for sure. Something else I love is eating dinner in that large room (a sanctuary at a local church) and seeing all of the familiar faces. The other homeschool families that I really like but don’t get to spend much time with. We are an agrarian valley and most of us don’t get to rub elbows much except at a fair, animal breed show, or something equally animal or orchard related. Many families own apple, pear, or cherry orchards, and some run cattle. At the least most of us tend farms or ranches of some sort, homebodies tending our sheep, goats, gardens and children. Even the women who live in town usually have a garden and do some kind of sewing. We all live by the seasons, and in the fall we make applesauce and cider, in the spring we pickle asparagus and in the summer pick berries and cherries.

There are precious few times a year we get to catch up with each other face to face unless it involves some sort of shared chore, which isn’t a bad thing. The Christmas play is one of them. It sounds so small town, but even though we have that feel, we are a large valley full of productive people.

One of the kids in this cast picture is from a large family of mint growers. Fine people. As a matter of fact his lovely mother came over after the play and spontaneously grabbed one of my adult kids and prayed over him.Those are the moments I know God brought us here. I love this community. I feel rich living here. Many families have lived in this valley for generations. When I lived in the rain forest part of Washington state we used to take 4 week road trips every summer, my husband and I and our little ones. As we passed through here on our way to Idaho, I would voice how sorry I was for those who make their homes in Yakima. I saw no beauty in it. That was before I knew the people and animals that lived here. Before I saw how tender work-roughened hands could be. What it does to a family to have to work together, not just live in the same house.

I’m in luxury living next to horse trainers and apple growers, cattle ranchers and even though we don’t make our living from farming ( my husband is a paramedic and firefighter) we do make a small profit from the animals I breed and it is defiantly work I do. So, that qualifies us.

True to most hobby farmers, I’m an addict and it’s a labor of love. I tell people it keeps me busy and off the streets. It also keeps me from an active social life, but that’s okay. I’m glad to not be idle.

Recently we winterized outdoors and the winter maintenance for the animals was done. Feet trimming, worming, etc. all have to be done to keep the animals healthy.

The picture below is Miss B. I call her that, though her registered name is quite a bit longer. She’s a lovely little Nubian doe with exceptional bloodlines, already bred for 1st generation Miniature Nubian kids. That’s my focus the past several years. I breed for lots of milk and quality of it. I like cheesemaking quality milk which means super protein and fat content. I have a community of friends in other breeders and those interested in making cheese too. It’s helpful to have a group of people who share my interests.

Who else, for instance, cares to hear about the glories of a first freshening udder on a particular doe, or will listen to the birth story of a first time pig owner talking about her sow like she’s a beloved daughter? Who else knows our vocabulary? Women who farm are complex and tough, but tender and full of wisdom. I love them.

I find a beloved community in other moms too, but especially other homeschool moms. Some of us co op together and share the burdens and the joys of educating our own. This mom here amazes me with her patience with the little people. She has several children, is a college educated educator, sharing her knowledge with the rest of us, and a powerhouse skater who does roller derbies! I love her.

Some people would disregard an online community, but I don’t. I have met many people online with my same various interests who have also become face to face friends. I know you have to be careful, and I am, but some fellow bloggers and facebookers have become customers and friends. I taught soap making to a small group who I met online. I’ve been friends for years with a woman who inspired me to go all out with my love of all things farm related and make it a lifestyle.

Community is a funny thing. It’s so necessary and yet in our modern world we have both enlarged it and shrunk it down to almost nothing. Some folks make their own little world very small and live there, lonely. It’s easy to do, the way we don’t much rely on our neighbors anymore. Many of you don’t even know-maybe haven’t even met your neighbors. Instead you medicate yourselves and become addicted to entertainment. It’s so much healthier to have relationships with people close to us. Even if you have just a little time, you can make more. I know I could sacrifice a little Facebook in exchange for making a pot of soup and share it with a neighbor.

The kids and I used to use snowy days as sledding days and also make homemade rolls and soup to deliver to the retired neighbors who went through the neighborhood plowing driveways.We live on dirt roads and tractors are plentiful.

Around here we round up each other’s loose cattle or the stray horse, look out for each other after surgeries and such…I feel like community is definitely within our control. We can reach out and we can pull people in. Maybe we give up too quickly?

Last night at the play I looked around at the children I had first seen as infants, the new young couples I had known as children, and the older folks who were now going by Gramma and Grampa, who were just parents when I moved here. I felt comforted and a sense of finally, for the first time in my life ever, having some roots. Maybe not generations deep like many of these families, but certainly roots nonetheless.

My children, unlike my husband and myself, have been able to grow up with the same children they are now young adult friends with. They have attended each other’s weddings and even welcomed a couple of babies. I look forward to sitting at an annual homeschool Christmas play many years from now, proudly smiling, and watching my grandchildren perform. I’ll nod my head and mingle around the room saying “hi” and catching up with the other old ladies, all too busy on their farms still to hobnob much, like me. We’ll talk rabbits, and sheep, spinning wool and the price of beef, apples and if it’s been rainy we will lament the split cherries the past summer. We will bake pies and hopefully still run into each other in town and stop for a latte and a bit of chit chat. We will see each other at the fair, buying ice creams and cotton candy for our grandchildren and I will hopefully still feel I belong here. I’ll welcome new neighbors and so will they. Because that’s how we build community.

You don’t have to live in the country to build a little community. Sometimes one or two neighbors can change to atmosphere of a whole apartment complex or city block.

Making soup and cookies to share really could change the world.

Radical, huh?

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