Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Farm Fiancé Lessons: Tractor Cabs and Farmer Time

Marrying a farmer gives me the chance to do some farming as well. Seeing as how I came from a farm background, I actually enjoy spending hours in a small tractor cab. I regularly use the word "therapeutic" when referring to tractor time. It is a wonderful time to get some quality thinking done while also being productive.

An afternoon of solitude was precisely what I needed after the craziness of my move from Michigan to Texas so on my first Thursday in Texas, I spent the afternoon in the tractor running the plow. I have never been involved in the tillage process before since I was always busy in school during this time of the year, but after a one-round lesson from my awesome teacher Royce, I was good to go.

For the most part, it was glorious! Just me and my dog, Rori, against the corn and cotton stalks from last year. I might have had a couple of small "oops" moments, like when I didn't quite get my GPS guidance clicked on or when I put my plow down a little too soon during my turn, but when I pulled the tractor and plow into the farmyard, they were both still in one piece. I'll call that a win for me!

However, I learned a very valuable lesson every farmer's wife, fiance or girlfriend should know. Knowing what I know now, I got way too excited when Royce asked me to run the tractor for him. For the next week after that, he kept asking me if I could plow "for just an hour or so."* Not saying that I didn't truly love running the tractor for the afternoon (because I did) and not saying that I won't run the tractor on the weekends (because I will), but I really like my big kid job too. Getting him to grasp the fact of me working from home has been a challenge, but he's catching on now.

*Side note: Just an FYI, farmer time does not correlate to the actual clock at all. An "hour or so" ends up being at least three hours. Farmer time is a little bit like a woman's "getting ready" time. While I say, "I'll be ready in 10 minutes," what I really mean is, "I'll be ready whenever I'm ready, and that will most likely be at least 30 minutes."

Friday, March 21, 2014

Texas, your wind is howlin' for me.

#nofilter here. That is a true representation of an "Amarillo sky."
The last two weeks have been a total whirlwind of activity for me - hence why I haven't had the chance to blog about any of it yet. And by whirlwind, I mean it has been very windy around here.

Growing up in South Dakota, I always thought I knew what wind was. Up there, we remark on the days when the wind does not blow, instead of the "windy" days. Living in Michigan taught me the wind doesn't blow all the time everywhere. Michiganders go crazy when there is 20-mile-per-hour wind - "Holy cow! Have you been outside today?! It is sooooo windy!" My response was to raise my eyebrows, smile, nod, and think 'These people would never survive the Dakotas.'

And then I moved to the Texas Panhandle. Um, wow. My definition of windy was not even close to correct. I haven't even been here a full two weeks yet, and I've had not one but two emergency dust storm warnings from my phone. Royce just responds to my wind comments with a "Welcome to the Panhandle!" Thanks dear. It sure is a good thing I love him.

Yes, it is ridiculously windy, but I think what really makes it terrible is the dust and tumbleweeds. It's real Old West type stuff: tumbleweeds rolling across roads and dust clouds blocking out the sun. Just cue some theme music from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and we'd have a great movie!

Despite the full-body exfoliation I would get from the flying particles of dirt, horses like to eat so I bravely faced the dust storm head on. Now I understand the purpose of bandannas and wild rags. I'm still getting dirt out of my nose and ears.

A wind storm like that one does provide the perfect opportunity to rid any fences of tumbleweeds. Just expect them to come back when the wind switches to the opposite direction, and you should probably hold on to the fence for safety. Tall people and wind gusts of 65-miles-per-hour aren't really a good mix. Actually, I don't even think short people and gusts of that speed are a good mix. Just stay inside if you can. It is probably safer that way.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Leaving a place is always bittersweet for me. Of course I'm moving on to great new adventures, following my heart, and starting a new life in Texas. But I'm also leaving behind the life I've developed here in Michigan. For the first extended period of time, I lived by myself (well, with my dog Rori) in an apartment I paid for myself. I moved to a state not knowing a single other person. I overcame my fear of going into restaurants alone. Even though I considered myself as being an independent woman, I realized I wasn't quite as independent as I had originally thought before moving to Michigan. 

As time passes, I'll eventually forget the name of my favorite restaurant in Kalamazoo and the street names. The addresses I once called home will fade in my memory. I'll forget how long it takes to get from Buchanan to Cassopolis and Grand Rapids to Hart. Those aren't the important things to remember, though. 

I've been blessed to have met really great people: Keith and Liz at my favorite pub in Kalamazoo; my customer Joel who told me I was too young for my job and made me work harder to prove him wrong; Jason and Nate who drove two hours on a Saturday morning to help me move out of my apartment; and Bart who took me under his wing and helped me through the challenges of my new career and of being alone in a new area of the country. 

Over the course of ten months, I gained some very valuable career experience and learned about entirely new facets of agriculture. I will never forget riding on a grape harvester, the smell of mint growing in the field, or the taste of strawberries straight out of the field (or the strawberry coma I went into after inhaling a couple of pounds). 

Michigan has given me some very unforgettable moments of beauty: a perfect October day of hiking and splashing along the sand dunes of Lake Michigan with Rori; driving six hours out of our way with Bart to see the Grand Traverse Lighthouse; sunsets over cherry orchards and grape vineyards; and the colors of autumn, breathtaking at every turn of the road. 

These are the memories that don't fade with time. These are the memories that will stay with me and have helped mold me into who I am today. The thought that makes it bittersweet is the idea of never being the exact same as I have been here again. Sure, change is inevitable, and that's good! But I'll never be this Kaitlyn again, the chemistry-trainee-who-had-never-been-to-Michigan-until-she-moved-here Kaitlyn. 

Enough of this deep reflection stuff. Here's some John Denver "Leaving on a Jet Plane" to leave you with because that's what I'm doing. Leeeeeeaving on a jet plane, Don't know when I'll be back again. 

Michigan Kaitlyn out.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Movin' on Michigan.

Ten months ago I moved to the Mitten state, officially known as Michigan. Seven months ago I expected to be moving to Texas - before the snow and the cold settled on Michigan, and three months before my apartment lease was up. Four months ago, I accepted the fact I'd need to pack up my apartment for storage. Two months ago I had almost given up hope of being relocated to Texas within my company. One week ago everything changed.

In a couple of days, I'll be jumping on an airplane bound for Amarillo, TX and waving goodbye to Michigan. It is the end of an era for me. No longer am I free to pack up and move wherever or whenever I please. No longer will I have to give a paragraph description of where I call "home" because for the first time in eight years, I will finally be home. They say "home is where the heart is," and that's the truth for me. The love of my life is in the Texas Panhandle on a cotton farm and cattle ranch so I'm headed to make a home with him. In August, my last name is changing, moving one step down the alphabetical order - going from an N to an O.

Not a native Texan myself, I know I have a few things to learn, like I'd better start brushing up on my Texas history and geography ASAP. I need to ditch the phrase "you guys" from my vocabulary and replace it with "y'all." My spicy food tolerance... well, I'll work on that too. I have to adjust to seeing those silly registration stickers on my windshield. Oh, and my "everything's bigger and better in Texas" attitude will need some development as well. Despite the daunting list of "Texanisms" to learn, I couldn't be more excited to become a Texan! It is going to be a heck of a ride so be prepared for stories of struggles, triumph and Texas. Yeehaw!