About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Gifts

This morning I woke extra early. I did not set an alarm and rise to wrap materialistic gifts or stuff sugary treats into oversized socks. This morning I had gifts to give that could only be received before dawn by gentle and understanding hands... I woke this morning to milk a goat.

Personally, I do not own any goats; however, I hope to in the coming years. This Christmas I have been farm sitting. Two of my friends and neighbors are out of town for the holidays while I am having Christmas here at home and will be feeding 9 adults and 2 kids this afternoon out of my kitchen. Because I am here, and they are there, it seemed natural for me to help tend to the animals.

On my street, right here in Fayetteville, is a woman who owns a flock of ducks headed by a bossy goose, three white rabbits, and three pigmy goats. This past Thanksgiving, I helped take care of the newest goat, Junebug, who was born just days before the holiday on which the owner traveled to see family. My job was not only to feed and check the water in the afternoon, but also to play with and cuddle a sweet three day old baby goat! After the goat sitting, I have told the owner of the goats that I am happy to help with farm chores. So when Christmas rolled around and the mother goat needed to be milked daily, I said yes. So on three mornings during this holiday season, I have rose out of bed before dawn and milked the goat. Since she is new a being milked and I am fairly new at milking, it takes me an hour to tend to the daily duties.

The other farm I am sitting is a short drive out of town. It has not required 6AM milking times, instead, I have driven out to the country cottage on the hill to feed goats, chicken, dogs, and cats. I also let the dogs out in the morning and put them up on these bitterly cold nights. Though it is not as difficult a task, it requires me to get in my car and drive, where as the other neighbor lives across the street.

Today, after waking and dressing, I walked across the street and went up to the front door to see a woman sitting at the kitchen table typing on her computer in the dark. The neighbor had told me that she had arranged for a B&B costumer to stay in the spare room for the holiday, so I wasn't surprised but just thrown off a little. I tapped on the door lightly and after explaining why I was there, the woman let me in. She was a kind and stayed out of my way as I went about my duties. Upon leaving and wishing her a Merry Christmas, she said to me, "You are such a good friend to be doing this! And so early in the morning on Christmas day too!" I thanked her but felt strange about the remark.

I left with the notion of being a good friend...But after thinking about it, I realized that friendship actually has nothing to do with it! Though they are my friends, that really is not what motivates me. There are some goodies involved: milk, eggs, and even a surprise card with a little cash in it, but I am not doing it for some minimal amount of food or money either. I got to use a hot tub at one of the houses last night, and though it was enjoyable, that is not why a did it. I am not even doing it to boost my ego. I have not been posting my good deeds on Facebook and I am not writing this in hopes that people stroke me with their comments. No. So why I am waking up at 6 am and driving out of town to tend animals on, of all busy crazy times, Christmas time?
I am giving my services this Christmas straight from the Christmas spirit. I am giving these gifts, because there is hardship and pain and cruelty everywhere you look in this world and if I can bring some kindness, generosity, and servitude to my neighbors, I will do it any chance I can get. Because if everyone, every day, did the same, the world would be a better place. Because I hope to inspire you to do the same! And perhaps you have heard this message before, and perhaps tending goats seems trivial, but we do what we can and we take from it what we may. So give a little today and every day!
 Happy Holidays!

And the sunrise wasn't bad either!