The Most Important Thing I Learned in 2011

We all have those moments though we might not realize them at the time when we change our own lives.  We change our attitudes about things, we change our habits and we become the people we are today.  This year has been an amazing year for me.  It has been one of the toughest and most rewarding years of my life.  This year I became a farmer.  I’m not really sure how it happened but I know that it probably started with the sheep our friends Tom & Mette enabled us with.  Then it was chickens and turkeys and geese and ducks and then goats.  Ah goats how I love you. Anyone who does not love a goat is either A. Not ever met a goat, B. had to do all the goat chores when growing up with goats, or C. a complete psychopath.

Anyway, to say that my life changed this year is like saying that Noah went out for a 3 hour cruise.  My life is a million and ten ways different than it was when I left California.  Some of it is regional (I now own a proper rain coat and wear socks and real shoes) and some of it is just because I am finally free to be as I want to be.  Some of the ways I have changed are because I just had to.  I had to or else I would end up a pile of sniveling crying trembling mass of wife that was no good to anyone.  Why would this have happened you ask?  Turkeys.  Turkeys were almost the undoing of me.  Don’t laugh, I’m being serious (ok you can laugh a little because it’s pretty ridiculous).

See, I’m kind of a control freak.  This is where the people that know me really well are laughing because they know I am an absolute control freak.  Not only am I a control freak but I’m recovering from “Everything is a huge deal!!!!” syndrome.  My best friend Shawna will tell you it’s because I had very little control about anything growing up and that everything (OMFG did you touch the STEREO?!!!) was a BIG deal.  (I’m sorry mom, it was.)  My cousin Rebecca will tell you that marrying the Mr who is so laid back that if the apocalypse came he’d tell everyone to stop freaking out and just relax is sort of deprograming.  I think she’s right, he makes me a better person not because he sets out to change who I am but because he allows me to adjust my attitude gently and with support. Sometimes he will look at me though and shake his head before saying, “I just don’t get why you are freaking out!” and you know what?  I don’t know why either.  This year has been a lot of those kind of instances.  And I’ve taken them all on a case by case basis as I’ve decided what I wanted to do with them.

One instance was my need to control absolutely everything.  I let the turkeys be free range but of course, being me, I had RESTRICTIONS on their free rangability.  I know, it’s a sickness.  I didn’t even realize this was silly or stupid I just knew where I wanted my turkeys and what I did NOT want them to do.  You see where this is going right?  Yeah.  So my turkeys, 8 in total at the time, were fine the first few days.  They wandered around the big fenced in pasture at the back of the property with the goats and did their turkey business.  Then one of those bastards got the idea to jump up on the fence that separated my backyard from the pasture.  Tank had a blast scaring them off the fence and I urged him on.  How dare those turkeys think they are allowed on my fence?!

Then the turkeys hopped over the fence into the yard…with the dog.  There were multiple turkey chases every day as I herded them out of the yard.  Tank did pull out a few feathers here and there but no turkey was actually hurt.  Did it matter that everything ended up being ok? No.  It raised my stress level every time they did it.  Then the damn turkeys went on a walk about.  They’d hop the fence into my side pastures and wander around the property as if they could do anything they wanted to! The NERVE!  I didn’t have these pastures fenced and was CERTAIN something bad would happen.  (Because obviously fencing had totally kept them in right?)  So yeah.  I’d spend my days stopping everything I was doing to herd the turkeys back to where I wanted them.  I’d cry over it, I’d scream over it, I’d throw sad hissy fits I’m so glad no one witnessed.  I once even kicked a turkey and then felt really bad about it.

It was then that the Mr – who had up until this point ignored my self imposed plight and let me be as crazy as I needed to be – finally spoke up.  “Preita,” he said as calmly as he could when I was being super nutso, “why does it matter?  They always come back at night and if they don’t it was only $10.”

People.  My husband is the buddha sometimes I swear.  He was right and even in my crazed addled state I knew it.  The fact was, it didn’t matter.  It didn’t matter at all!  Why was I driving myself insane over something that DID NOT MATTER?  Because I had set self imposed rules for my animals and was upset when they did not follow them.  People, I had rules for my turkeys as if they’d ever understand them!  At that point I took a deep breath and agreed with him, it did not matter what the turkeys did.  I was not going to be insane over this anymore.  I decided at that moment to let it go, to let the turkeys be as the turkeys would be and just take a step back.  You know what happened?  Nothing.  They turkeys wandered everywhere they wanted to and at night, they came to the barn ready to go in at night.  The only thing that happened is that I was less stressed out, I had more time for doing things that were important to me with out the constant turkey interruptions and I was happier.  Go figure.

Months later when my in-laws visited I think this change in attitude perplexed my father in law – a man I look up to very much.  We were on the patio and he was smoking a cigar when a turkey started screeching.  He looked at me and frowned before saying, “Turkey’s on the barn.”  I looked up and noticed that one of the hens was indeed on the top of the barn.  “Yup,” I replied going back to knitting.  “Do you think it can get down?” he asked.  “Probably since it was able to get up there.”  “Are you going to do anything?” he pushed.  “Nope,” I answered.  Thirty minutes later the turkey was off the barn and they were on the roof of my house, “Turkey’s on the roof,” my father in law said.  “Yup, they do that” I replied as I continued to knit.  He looked at me and smiled.  I think it was the first time he’d seen me just really let it go, to not jump up and have a freak out.

I’ve tried to use this new found outlook in other areas in my life.  I call it my F*ck It motto.  If it doesn’t work, F*ck It and move on.  I am a very stubborn person so it’s hard for me to just move on sometimes but I’ve gotten better.  When something just won’t work I force myself to stop, walk away and do something else.  Chances are when I try it again with a level head it works just fine.  I have a new outlook on life and a little less stress all thanks to my amazing Mr and a bunch of willful turkeys.  Who thought that you could be taught a lesson by an animal with the brain the size of a walnut?

Happy New Year!  (BTW I have goat pictures to follow this post!)

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7 thoughts on “The Most Important Thing I Learned in 2011

  1. Sweet jeebus I so relate to the whole “control freak” issue… farming really re-adjusts one’s mindset, doesn’t it? I’ve gone from ~needing~ a spotless house to being okay if the floor isn’t “moving”…

  2. oh darling daughter, the goat babies are way to cute, herman too. but the glasses are the best omg that is way too funny.
    yes i can say at the time the whole stereo thing way a big deal… thank goodness things and people can change…
    the turkey zen is amazing maybe you could start a self realization clinic using turkeys….
    love mom

  3. “People, I had rules for my turkeys as if they’d ever understand them!”

    Funniest line in the whole story! Made me laugh out loud – all 3 times that I read it!

    HNY to you and the Mr. from the Deppe pack in SoCal

  4. Another recovering control freak here — never made the connection to having no control as a child but that was my experience as well.

    I so enjoy reading about your animals and farming experiences.

  5. I love your “turkeys on the roof” story! That made me smile. I’m glad you are learning to let go but it can be so hard! I am constantly working on this too. For me it is a never-ending battle.

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