Farm Girl

Follow your heart, always

Sunday, 26 March 2017

It would be relaxing, they said. It would be FUN.

Guys, I'm exhausted. It's not even 5pm, and I'm contemplating to go to bed. Yes, it was one of those days. 
Let me paint you a picture: 
This morning I slept in longer than usual. By the time I got up, it was almost 9am, and instead of having coffee first (which is what I should have done), I made the fatal decision to "quickly go outside and feed the horses (and the cows, sheep, goats, and llamas)". There I was, stumbling around like a drunk, because not only was I still half asleep, I also forgot to put on my glasses, so everything was blurry. 
I threw some hay to the horses, let the dogs out, and then made my way to the cow pasture. There, outside the fence, was Norman.  

"Norman, how did you get out?" I asked him in dismay. He's our baby, a 7 months-old bull calf, and a typical teenager. He just looked at me, mooing softly. I took this to meaning that he was ready to join the herd again. 

"Come on, you little rascal," I said, opened the gate and tried to shoo him in. 

Enter Nina. 

See how Nina was stalking Nick a couple of weeks ago? 
Well, she was doing the same to Norman this morning. He bolted, and before I could close the gate, so did Nick (the horse) and Polly (one of the cows - not the mom) - they ran right past me, and I swear, they gave me the finger as they streaked past.  
Now everyone was in a tizzy: Mama Molly mooed for her calf, Gabi mooed because she's vocal and an asshole, and Norman mooed because he wanted to go back to mama. 

I cursed. Remember, I hadn't had a single sip of coffee yet - but I also wasn't tired any more. My blood was pumping, and adrenaline was flowing!

I fed the goats (they were screaming their little hearts out as well, naturally) and the sheep, and then I tried to catch the escapees. I did get the horse and put him back on the pasture. But the cows were hopeless. Until I learn to lasso like our farrier, there was no hope that I would catch them.

I trudged inside, and informed Rich about everything that was going on. He was unconcerned - "we will get them later". I finally got to drink my coffee, and relaxed. 

Too soon, as it turned out. 

When Rich joined me in the dining room, he spied our young ram who escaped yesterday. 
Oh, have I not mentioned him?

Here's what happened:   
One of our teenaged boy sheep scaled a 4-foot gate yesterday and escaped his enclosure. 

We saw him booking it to the barn, and Rich and I bolted after him. However, we still don't have a sheep-proof fence, so he simply ducked under it and ran over to the neighbour's place, Rich and I in hot pursuit. We cornered him behind a car, I chased him around towards Rich - and the sheep boy jumped up, hit Rich in the head, and kept running.   
We tried a few more times, but to no avail. 

This morning, when we saw him again, we jumped on our ATV and tried to catch him. 
The fun part was that the entire neighbourhood got to watch: He ran through several neighbour's properties, startling their horses and other livestock, and we followed him by darting in and out of people's driveways, cutting through their yards and fields and pastures. 

Long story short: We didn't get him. I blame the lack of proper fencing around here, they are not sheep-proof at all. As I said to Rich: "I want a wall, and I want you to pay for it."

We haven't given up yet: He's still around, and with a proper net (or something), we'll hopefully get him.   
What an exhausting way to spend a Sunday. 

But on the bright side, we did reunite Norman and Polly with the other two cows!
Three down, one to go. We can do this. 


P.S. In just a few short hours, I'll send out my next newsletter, and this time I'm talking eggs, potatoes, and coffee beans - and it has nothing to do with cooking. Intrigued? Sign up here!


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Wild and free

Yesterday, I finally put the winter coats away. It's a ritual I treasure: I go through the pockets, relieving them of the detritus that has accumulated throughout the winter: Old receipts, crumpled tissues, some dog treats, usually at least one $5.00- or $10.00-bill (always in Rich's pockets, but now in mine - finder's keepers), the odd bullet, a dried-up gummy bear (that one surprised me the most; how did I not eat it?). I wash them all, air-dry them, and then they get ceremoniously folded and put away for the next six months. If I'm in the mood, I may even make a short speech: "See ya later, suckers!" or something along those lines. 

Along with the winter coats come the warm boots, woolly mittens, lined gloves, and an assortment of fuzzy and furry hats. 
And just like that, I feel free

As much as I liked this last winter, with its glittering snow and brilliant blue skies, nothing can replace the feeling of the first warm rays of sunshine on your skin in the spring. 

Something in me shifts. 
It's like I'm finding back to my true self, after having been lost in lazy-land. 
Suddenly, I'm full of energy! My body wants to move again, after having been sluggish for months, and I'm rearing to go.  

I'm walking again, even though it's all hills in our new neighbourhood (rats). I'm not fond of hills, but I guess I have to get used to it. 
And the difference it makes is astonishing: Better sleep, calmer mind, more energy. Plus, Lily and I are bonding even more (I didn't think that's possible, but there you go), and for that I would climb mountains! Well, I am, so you can take that literally. 

I'm also finally, finally practising yoga daily again. My body and mind miss it when I don't. 
Yet, I still go regularly through those phases where I only do it halfheartedly. (Those phases are called winter. Still, it's no excuse.) 
We humans have got to be the weirdest life form on earth. 
Even if we know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, what's good for us - what makes us happy, relaxed, strong, calm, and all the other good stuff - we will stop doing it.  Again and again. 

Because we are lazy. Or we make up insane reasons in our mind why we can't do it (too busy; too tired; more important things to do; better things to do ← that one kills me; I'm such an idiot).  

But, as Buddha says: 

“Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

Let's focus on what we can do today, and forget about the mistakes from yesterday.

I often think that I'm less of a yogi, and more of a nature-worshipper. While I try to practice yoga inside - the true joy of yoga for me is only experienced in nature. Feeling the wind in my hair, the earth under my feet, smelling the bush and listening to bird song - there is nothing like it. That's what makes my soul sing. 

And our season is just beginning! We have six glorious months of outdoor practice ahead of us! I'm so excited for it.  

Happy Spring!


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

4 Years of Blogging

This blog turned 4 years old on March 15, but blog years are like dog years, so it's actually 35 years old. (Side note: Did you know that the first year of a dog's life counts double? Instead of being the equivalent of 7 years, it's 14. I read that once, and it made so much sense to me, I adopted this way of thinking. After all, the rate we mature at during puberty is breathtaking; it slows waaaaay down once we've reached our twenties.)

Girlfriend (=blog) and I are roughly the same age, and we both can relate to each other. We know what it feels like to have had all those wild, crazy dreams when we were younger - we thought by the time we reached our thirties we would be rich and famous, living with our private chef/marketing director (respectively) in our huge mansion/magazine-style website (respectively), being adored by thousands of fans.

Hahaha, just joking.

Here we are, 37 and 35 years old (respectively), living in comfortable, yet modest homes (minemy blog's), and we're happy as clams.
Small is the new big, haven't you heard?

In terms of numbers, I did something not very smart: In September, I deleted my commenting widget Disqus, because I've had some problems with it. Inadvertently, I deleted about 1,500 of reader comments, because they weren't synced with my blog. Yikes! That's why it looks like so many of my posts have no comments, because they were deleted. I was devastated, but couldn't figure out a way to get them back.
The long and short of it is, I have no idea how many comments I got over the last year; overall, comments have drastically reduced in blogland, because so many people have shifted their attention away from blogs to Instagram and Snapchat.

But, I still have some numbers for you: 818 posts, 2180 followers, and over 327000 page views.

In what has become tradition, let's take a look at the last 12 months of my life and blog (here are my 3rd anniversary2nd anniversary, and 1st anniversary posts):

We went on a Caribbean cruise last March, which meant a tan for me, photos of palm trees for social media, and a vacation video for the blog. I posted 16 times during the month, which was a normal average for me then, but not any more. These days it's only 2-3 times per week, since I'm doing so much writing for the book.

Most popular post of the month: Kiss me, I'm Irish (190 page views).
My personal favourite post was Not being yourself?, which talks about depression, finding yourself, and finding your purpose.

April was a tough month, because my beloved dog Snowy passed away suddenly.
A week before it happened, I made a video of A day in the life, and it was a very happy day; life can be a damn roller coaster.
However, some other good stuff happened: I did one of my rare blog collaborations, this one with Preciousy, a company dedicated to help elephants.
A huge highlight for me was meeting my yoga idol Kino MacGregor. She was teaching an Ashtanga workshop in Vancouver, and I took a class with her, the complete First series of Ashtanga yoga. It was hard, sweaty, and amazing. I love her.
I also went to Germany for a quick trip, because my grandma wasn't doing well; thankfully, she recovered.

Most popular post of the month: Tips for your yoga home practice (304 page views)

The best thing that happened was the arrival of a new dog: Tom Snow joined our family! Getting him helped me a lot easing the pain of losing Snowy. He's so affectionate and loving, we couldn't ask for a better dog. 
On the blog, I did a before and after comparison yoga post. Those are always fun to do, and satisfying to look back on. At that point, I had practiced yoga regularly for 14 months; now it has been two years!
Other than Tom Snow joining the family, May was blah. I escaped the dull reality by dreaming, and writing a post about that dream, a post that became a weird foreshadowing of things to come: Of selling the house, moving into the wilderness "but still only a 15-minute drive to shops, restaurants and medical help if we need it". It's tongue-in-cheek and exaggerated, but still - many elements of that dream have come true. The universe is wild! 

Most popular post of the month: Abbey Road (193 page views)

In an ironic twist of fate, I finally tackled the challenging project of painting the kitchen cupboards of our old house. Ironic, because about 5 minutes after it was done, we made the sudden decision to put our house on the market. If I had known, I probably wouldn't have done it ... but at least I can tell myself that it helped to sell the house (even though I don't think it made a lick of difference).
I also came across one of my all-time favourite quotes and incorporated it in my post Breaking free: Breaking free from chasing perfection, from letting imperfections ruin your day, from not doing things because you think you are not good enough or don't look perfect enough.
Rich and I went flying in a tiny plane, which was amazing.

Most popular post of the month: Fashion rules I love to break (288 page views)

My mother-in-law came for a three-week visit in July. She's 82 years old and pretty set in her ways, and I'm always astonished and amused by how different she and Rich are from each other. We had some difficulties in the early years, but over the years we have found our groove, and usually these visits are pretty harmonious. Still, I'm not mad about our families living so far away ;-)
For most of last year, I struggled with job dissatisfaction, and I wrote about it several times. In July it was this post: How to get your mojo back. The sad thing about it is that I have always adored my job, and love many of my co-workers. But the general atmosphere had become toxic, and affected many of us.

July was also the month where we made the decision to change our life pretty drastically, and I hinted about the upcoming changes in the post Scary dreams.
Four days later, I elaborated, and it became the most-read post of the month.

Most popular post of the month: So - what's been going on? (557 page views)

August was all about house hunting. I documented each excursion, and had a ton of fun writing these posts: 
Oh, I was also given a free yoga wheel from YogDev, a Vancouver-based yoga-props company, and did a giveaway.

Most popular post of the month: Property hunting, vol. 4 (309 page views)

September was all about house selling. I wrote about The 7 stages of selling your house, and about a mistake we almost made
I cut off a good chunk of my hair, which was more unsettling than I had expected
Inspired by all the changes in my life, I contemplated a name change for the blog, but ultimately decided that Farm Girl is here to stay. 

Most popular post of the month: Property hunting, vol. 5: THE FINAL CHAPTER (274 page views)

October was all about packing. After some last-minute drama, we sold our place, and then the decluttering, organizing, and packing started. It really started to sink in that we had reached the end of an era.  
We also had another visitor for two weeks, Rich's friend Karl-Heinz from Germany. Him and I got into a fight, which wasn't great. I also struggled with depression throughout the month, and was quite emotional. Change is hard.
Oh, and I won a writing contest! I was thrilled about that. 

Most popular post of the month: Dancing on sunshine (177 page views)

Ugh, remember November? Trump won the election, and the entire world was stunned. It was an event so shocking, it was impossible to ignore, and I wrote a post about the morning after
Our personal life was more cheerful: We took possession of our new house, and I showed you guys what it looked like inside. Then we started with the long, complicated moving process, and I was, once again, an emotional mess. What a roller coaster!

Most popular post of the month: A rambling, personal post (427 page views)

December was wonderful. Easily one of the best months of last year, which is saying something, since it's usually one of my least favourite. We got a ton of snow, and we were enchanted by the winter wonderland we found ourselves in. We were both high on life, loving our new place hard, and pinching ourselves daily to make sure this wasn't a dream.  
I finished off the year at my old job, and tried out two AirBnBs: The first one with mixed success, but the second one a total winner. I went to three separate goodbye parties that my awesome co-coworkers threw for me, spent Christmas Eve at our oldest friends' house, and Christmas Day at another dear friend's house, and felt cocooned in a layer of love and happiness. Like I said, it was a very special month.  

Most popular post of the month: A house tour! (276 page views)

I started out the new year on the high I was still on from December. This post is full of energy, enthusiasm and optimism, and it made me smile reading it. The first day of a new year is magical, don't you think? You believe anything is possible. 
In that spirit, I started a weekly newsletter, wanting to send you a ray of sunshine and optimism in your inbox every Monday morning. I write about life's ups and downs, about believing in yourself, and about chasing your dreams like it's nobody's business. I love writing it, and I hope you enjoy reading it!
I didn't work in January, and my days were spent writing, hanging with the animals, and getting adjusted to the immense cold and our new town. It was a month that felt like taking a vacation from reality, which was great. 

Most popular post of the month: A dozen years (243 page views) ← πŸ’•It was our wedding anniversary!πŸ’•

February was eventful: I found a casual job at the local hospital. I got punched in the face. Rich bought miniature cows. I went for a job interview for another job - and didn't get it. Lily got caught in a snare trap. I read like a woman possessed, because books are everything (and every writer is a passionate reader). I also had a little crisis, because the high from December and January couldn't last forever. 

Most popular post of the month: I never thought I would ... (183 page views)

Blogging for four years. When I sat down for the first time on the early evening of March 15, 2013, penning my very first blog post, I would have never thought that 4 years later, I would still be at it. 
I didn't turn out at all how I expected - instead of creating an online photo album, as I had expected, I created a tool that helped me find myself. My blogging journey has really been a journey into myself, discovering the person I am.

I was a shy child who grew into an insecure teenager, and then an anxious young woman, desperate to be liked by others. I measured my self-worth by how much other people liked me. 
Despite being 33 years old when I started blogging, I had astonishingly little self-awareness. I had this picture in my mind of the person I wanted to be: Outgoing, fun, confident, popular, the life of the party. I wanted to be the kind of girl who could strike up a conversation with anyone, despite being the exact opposite. I also thought I had to be a great cook, a nurturing, motherly person (I'm a woman, after all), and have a perfect body to go with it all. 
In short, I still believed in the illusion of having to be perfect in order to be liked.  

Blogging helped me overcome that bullshit notion. It exposed me to different ways of life, to people who chose a path outside the norm. I found people who would tell their whole story: Not only the highlights, but also their failures, their doubts and insecurities, and ways in which their life didn't turn out how they expected it to.*

*Of course, there are plenty of blog who only share the highly edited version of their lives - but if you search long enough, you will find the raw jewels in between. 

In a world of Facebook highlight reels and social media perfection, where even friends think they have to make their life look glossier than it is, this was a revelation to me. 

Writing hundreds of thousands of words has been an amazing therapy. It helped me make sense of the chaos in between my ears. Writing my muddled thoughts down has shown me who I really am - and in the course of getting to know myself, I first grew to like her - and then, to love her. 

I never saw that one coming. 

If there is one lesson I have taken away from my blogging journey, it is this: 
Start before you're ready. Do it even if you don't know if you can do it. 

You never know what might happen!

As always, I want to thank you, my dear readers. Without you, this blog wouldn't be what it is: My online home, my happy place. 
You make this blogging gig worthwhile and fun, and I love you so much for it. 


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