Where I come from

As those of you that follow this blog already know, I love many things that involve nature and agriculture. Looking back over my life, I completely understand where those passions come from. Today, I will share a little bit of insight into the environment that I grew up in and around.

My grandparents had a small dairy farm in a little town nicknamed Canaan. To those that don’t know the meaning, it’s defined as the “Land of Milk and Honey”. This little community is situation between two other small towns named Harford and Slaterville Springs. The whole area is rural. The closest city is Ithaca and it takes 15-20 minutes to drive there. I went to school in another small town called Dryden. Each community is very close knit and for generations has involved varying levels of agriculture. Dryden prides itself on being a farming community. To the extent of which, every year there is a parade to honor the dairy farms during June. June is Dairy Month to those that didn’t know.

It’s hard to explain how the whole community and surrounding towns pull together to get involved with the Dairy Day. From spectators to local businesses, the area schools to the local churches, farms and political figures. There are floats, young children involved in reading clubs dressed to storybook characters, dog groomers, the local bank with it’s traditional horse drawn carriage and so much more involved in the parade that rolls through down Main Street.  After the parade, everyone goes to the town park. There are livestock, games, country music bands, ice cream and of course milk. It’s a fun filled day and a wonderful community gathering.

This year was the 29th year it’s been going on. I went to take photos of the parade as part of my job and to do a favor for a friend. It’s like old home days. I haven’t been myself since around 2002. I saw so many people I haven’t seen in years, some close to two decades. Everyone still knows everyone. You walk two feet and run into someone else you know. You run into family members you haven’t seen in a year. You see retired school teachers, old classmates, and other staples in the community. Yes, life moves on but here in this little small town once you are part of the community, you are ALWAYS part of the community. It doesn’t matter where you go or where your travels may lead you, it doesn’t matter where you work or what you drive…you are a lifetime member! I love this town and it’s passion for agriculture.

Growing up in this community that is surrounded by agriculture, swaying corn and dairy farms, you can see what I have such a passion to tell the stories behind the fields of green. The stories I write are about my neighbors, friends and even family. This is the very center of why I love all things agriculture. Don’t get me wrong, I am obsessed with cattle but understand this…the diversity within agriculture is amazing. Think of all the things that agriculture provides for us. It’s not only the food we eat but the clothes we wear, the fuel we use and so much more. We, as a society in general, tend to forget where so much of our creature comforts and the foods we eat come from. I am humbled to say that I am thankful for the community where I was raised because it taught me to value the hard work and dedication that goes into the many things we love so much.

I might not be from the boondocks and I might have grown up in a very culturally diverse area but, I will always be from a small town dairy community that shows pride in the area and all the richness it has to offer. I am a small town country girl!  And as that one country song says, “I’m proud of where I come from.”

How about you? Are there things about your hometown that have made an impact on your life? If so, how much?

The Tomboy Within

Growing up, I always used to joke that I was my father’s only son. From as early in my life as I can remember, my daddy used to take me hunting and fishing. We spent so much time together as I grew up, he became my best friend. I love my daddy very much. I don’t get to see him anymore due to circumstances and choices that are out of my control but I will never forget our time together and all the lessons he taught me. Being my father’s “tomboy”, I learned to not only hunt and fish but to work on cars, get greasy and spin wrenches. Since my dad drove race cars for years, I learned the ins and outs of mechanics and car set ups. I know how to change my own oil, brake pads and even to change tires. These are life lessons that have helped me out on more than one occasion. Parts departments hate to see me coming. Service stations have threatened to have me thrown out of building when they couldn’t admit fault, especially to a girl. It’s actually kind of comical after the fact…but during situations like that, it makes my blood boil. I’ve had people try to fit me into a box of a proper, well-behaved lady. That box doesn’t fit…AT ALL! I am my father’s only son. I swear like a trucker. I like to drink beer. I hang with the “boys” more than I do the ladies. I don’t sit through gossip over morning tea. I work just as hard, if not harder than a lot of men I know. I like to go throw a little mud from the tires on my truck. I like going fishing and hunting. I like shooting guns and bows for competitive sport (and have even gotten myself a couple of trophies for it too). I like four-wheeling. I like being a grease monkey and fixing things. I go at my own pace. I like wearing blue jeans, t-shirts and baseball caps. I would rather be sitting on the tailgate of a pickup in the middle of a field looking up at the stars or watching a bonfire than sitting in some fancy restaurant enjoying a chef prepared meal. I am a burger and french fries kind of girl.

The "real" me in my ball cap in the pasture with cattle.

The “real” me in my ball cap in the pasture with cattle.

On another note, I do “clean-up” rather well. The difference is so startling that even my own neighbors and family members hardly know it’s me. Until I talk that is. I have a rather unique voice with strains of accents I have no idea the origination of. I was bred and born in upstate NY but I have a southern accent on some words while others have a Canadian accent. I’ve had lots of people ask me where I’m from…even when I grew up the next town over. I’m not really a traveler either. I’ve been to South Carolina once. The eastern sea board once. Canada once. It’s just the strange mess of who I am. A mix of a little bit of everything. It makes me that much more unique. Fishing has been a relative constant in my life. An obsession that I have carried on my shoulders, lacking a few short years here and there, that has given me so much peace in my life. I remember fishing with my daddy when I was really little and him showing me how to bait my own hook. After I became a pro at catching fish, he taught me how to take the fish off the hook too. I think it was more for him than me because he wasn’t getting a chance to fish himself. But, needless to say, I can do it myself. Something a ton of women I know refuse to do. Over the years, I have been so obsessed with fishing that when I worked as an account representative for a printing company, I would take lunch breaks in my long skirt and all to go fly fishing for trout along the banks of creek. You should have seen the looks I would get as I wrapped the back of my skirt up between my legs to tuck the hem into my waistband and proceed to done my hip waders. Many years ago, I discovered something that combines two loves of my life…fishing and art. I learned how to tie flies! I even had a small business for a while making and selling flies for fishing. I even did classes for local youths to learn to tie their own flies and then I would teach them how to fly fish too. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I haven’t tied flies in years and I am hoping to find some time soon. I still have some old ones in my box that I broke out on this last Sunday. Still managed to land me a bunch of panfish with the old standby. Life is good when I hear the gear whip of a fly line. Life is even better fighting a panfish on a nearly 8 ft. fly rod. Here’s my favorite image from Sunday…a flashback stonefly nymph in the mouth of a hand-sized panfish caught along the bank of the farm pond. Oh yes. Life was very good.

One of my favorite things...fly fishing for panfish!

One of my favorite things…fly fishing for panfish!

I’ll leave you for now. I’ll update more soon. Until then, I want to leave you with one small thing. NEVER under estimate a female, woman or girl. You don’t know what kind of background they may have. 🙂