I grew up on a farm.
Complete with geese, chickens, ducks, horses, sheep, a pig, goat, rabbits, dogs and cats, a guinea pig and a parakeet.
Such a huge delight for a girl who dressed up as a cowboy the first ten years of her life. But then. That all changed when we got our first horse.
My sister was the cowgirl of the farm.
She was involved in 4-H and raised rabbits and a pig. She barrel-raced in rodeos. She was involved in the Rincon Riders. She was the true cowgirl and no matter how often I dressed as one, it didn't make me one.
I learned that early on.
Especially when one afternoon, she and I rode the horses down to the Sonoma County fairgrounds and we galloped through the fields ... and I eventually got bucked off, flying through the air, head first burying neck deep into the ground. I thought I was going to die; suffocating myself in the mud.
"Show her you're the boss, Shawn!" Kelly would tell me. "Get back on! Show her you're not afraid!!!"
I rode the horse home with a swollen muddy check and bloodied lip, biting back the tears.
I really preferred buzzing around on our mini-bike around our farm and through nearby vineyards. A Honda-50. I pretended to be Evil Knievel and rode wheelies and jumped over angled boards. I felt more at ease. I wore a helmet that made me feel so powerful.
And then one day I convinced my friend Tony to sign up with me for 4-H, too. My sister made it sound so fun! I let him choose what we would get involved in.
He wanted to learn about wildlife.
I hated camping.
The only time we camped was while sailing off the coast of Canada in August right after 6th grade .... through the San Juan Islands... and my dad decided to cook us breakfast in our tent since it was raining there on Jones Island. Some sort of spark lit my sleeping bag on fire as I slept. My sleeping bag combusted in flames! I awoke to my dad stomping on my legs and feet putting the fire out. Thank God I'm alive to write about these experiences.
My mom drove us to our first 4-H meeting at Mrs. Simmon's house up in the Bennett Valley hills.
I waited for the others to show up. My neck craning left and right.. watching for the others to arrive. It was just me and Tony.
I remember feeling that panic feeling. I sat on the couch with Tony beside me and I looked over my shoulder out the window behind me, often hoping they would just show up late.
Instead, I saw my mother's Ford Galaxy 500 still parked there in the same spot she dropped us off. This time, the hood was lifted. A neighbor had walked across the street to help her out.
We always had car trouble. I grew up with the belief.. "never drive farther than you can walk back".
I remember that first 4-H meeting. She talked of deer prints. I could barely listen to her constant droning chatter about making a plaster cast of deer prints. I was so nervous and concerned for my dear mother.
Eventually, the tow truck came. Hauled the green Galaxy 500 Ford Sedan away just in time for Tony's mother to arrive in the same spot out in front to pick us up in their blue chevy station wagon, to take us home. Such a narrow escape.
But despite all that, I loved those plaid plants, and as long as I was wearing them... whether riding the horse, the minibike or doing the farm chores ... well, life was pretty good back then!
(pictured left to right: My sister, our beloved dog, Patches, my brother, our beloved collie, Lacey, and me in my favorite plaid pants).
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Life on the Farm
I grew up on a farm.