January Summation

January was a good month for me. To start the month, I was able to become employed. It is not a high paying job, but I need this job for more than money. I have not worked outside the home for thirteen almost fourteen years. When I applied, it was to provide some income into the home finances, since my husband was not working at the time. Now he is employed, and the small income I earn is not needed. Yet, inside I feel I need this job.

I know I am growing personally. Overcoming some of my fears concerning being around people. I also enjoy being away from the farm, engaging with other people. My job is interesting as I am learning how to become a meat cutter. Currently, I grind meat and I wrap meat. But there are other skills to be added once I master the ones I am learning. Perhaps it is learning. I get pleasure from learning new things.

I have a schedule to keep. No more are there days I do not know or even care about which day of the week it is. I have to know which day and the date of the week, as I do not work everyday. I plan more for dinner meals and household chores. One things I am proud of is the household and farm have not suffered with me going back to work. I am managing my time to be able to get done the things I did before I had a job. I had wondered if I would be able to keep up with the household chores and work a job. I would always make sure I took care of the sheep, as they are an labor of love and income.

The month of January I participated in Bloganuary 2023, a challenge hosted by word press. Thirty one days of posting blogs referring to a daily prompt. I am proud of myself as this year I posted on the day of the prompt without missing or being late. I was able to get some writing done on my books as well.

January was a good month for myself. I have faced some challenges and new adventures with a smile.

amtolle

Bloganuary 2023 Challenge

The final day of January 2023 and Bloganuary 2023. Last year I started blogging on this site during Bloganuary 2022. I had started late for Bloganuary 2022. I found there is more work in writing a post each day last January. I struggled with creating a post everyday based on the prompt given. I also learned during last year’s challenge, I have the ability to put words together for others’ enjoyment.

This year as part of my goals for my life was to be more consistent in writing, not only the blogs but also my books. I am happy to say I have so far maintained the goal. This year’s Bloganuary 2023 Challenge was a challenge due to I also started working outside my sheep farm in January. The job has been good in a personal growth opportunity for me. Something I felt ready to face and achieve at this time in my life.

Having a job plus the sheep farm plus house hold plus writing, required discipline in time management. I was able to get each day’s blog written and posted that day. Today, I even excelled that expectation as I was the first to post. The sheep are the priority of my life as far as work goes, and I have not missed in their care. My job has varied days and hours, mostly early morning hours, and I have been able to meet the requirements of my job and find joy in working. My household duties have always taken seat fiddle to the farm.

The addition of a job, the household duties are now sitting third fiddle. I was concerned with having a job and being able to keep the household to the standard I had kept it the past few years. I am pleased that I have been able to care for the sheep, work a job and maintain my house. When I first started working, my husband was still waiting on a job. It was easy to transition into having a job, the sheep and household. My husband would help with the sheep and cook the dinners. Now that he is working and leaving for work before I do, I have taken the full responsibility for the sheep and household. Having a transition time, helped me to organize my time to manage to do all that needs to be done in a day. I have also been writing every day.

I appreciate the work and thought that went into hosting the Bloganuary 2023 Challenge, thank you Mindy Potsoff. Thank you to those who have stopped to read my post and to follow my blog. I appreciate all the commits. The one thing I did not do well this year was read more of other’s posts. Last year I was able to spend the time to read a lot more posts by others during the challenge month. As time allows I will continue to read the posts of each daily prompt, do not be surprised if a comment or like is posted in May.

Thank you everyone for participating in this years writing challenge Bloganuary 2023

amtolle

Chores that Challenge

Bloganuary 2023 Daily Prompt for Day 12: What chores do you find the most challenging to do?

Until recently this would have been an easy answer, bookkeeping. Since I am self-employed as a sheep farmer and I raise registered sheep there is the record keeping of expenses and income that I find challenging to do. The records on the sheep of which ewe had which lambs is easy to do, I record the information in a small book the day the lambs are born. It is the tracking of expense and income I dread.

Recently, I became employed outside of the home. It has been thirteen years since I worked outside the home. The challenge is time to do the household chores. I still get the sheep fed and taken care of. But finding the energy to do household chores after working the new job is difficult.

I am sure things will get better as I build up stamina to have energy for both. For the time being there will be no fresh baked bread, meals will be simpler, laundry will not be done all the time, and forget about the dusting. I will adjust and adapt and things will get done. But bookkeeping will always be a challenge.

amtolle

“The Box”

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A red Budweiser case box sits on a shelf in a closet. The box shows wear from many moves the past two decades. On the front is an index card labeling what is inside, “Research Paper”. This box is special, a trophy. Not stylish or fancy to put on a shelf and admire for its beauty, but a trophy nonetheless.

Recently, when my oldest daughter, Mrs. J, was visiting with me and her younger sister, Mrs. E, she asked,”Mom do you still have your research paper?”

Mrs. E instantly responded, “Mom is never going to get rid of that, it is too special.” She was not joking or being sarcastic, but serious about the value of the box. A value I did not know they had for an old worn box full of papers.

Mrs. J asked, “Can I see it sometime Mom?”

“Yes, when you come down next time for a visit, I will get out the research paper.”

This research paper is from college, a class required for graduation with an associates degree.

Colleges have stories about teacher and classes, this class was tough, grueling and not fun. Mrs. Ackrey taught the class, and it was a challenge. She was very particular on the steps, resources and how this research thesis was presented. Mrs. Ackrey had four Phds and was working on another, she was qualified on teaching students how to write a research paper that taught the skills to write a masters or doctorate thesis, the purpose of the class. The research paper written and presented to her was the total grade for the class. Because of the importance and amount of work required, I did not load up with the 18 to 21 credit hours I usually carried a combination from three colleges. I took a bare minimum of credit hours to get government financing to assist with the cost, 12 credit hours.

The first day, we were handed the syllabus and given a list of supplies needed, including 5 legal type notebooks, index cards, and post it notes. She went through the syllabus with us word by word. Everyone was to understand and be aware of the requirements for the class. For homework we were instructed to think about a subject for the research paper that had to be at least 25 pages in length. Leaving class that night, I knew what my topic would be – horses. I had a lot of books, magazines and personal experience with horses, as a topic, my research paper would not be so difficult.

Second class meeting opened with us voicing ideas for a subject. Mrs Ackery was quick to shoot some down due to not being a large enough topic to meet the required number of resources and pages. She stated some topics that were common for research papers in her class, and others that would meet the requirements if a person choose to do the research. Before class was over she looked at me, said my name, “You can not do a research paper on horses. In this area, you are known as an expert, and choosing the subject would not require you to learn the process sufficiently. And I will not accept you doing a paper on any animal.” My topic shot out of the water before I even started. Ok, now the work of picking a topic as we were to have a topic chosen before the next class.

Choosing the topic to do research on was difficult. The minimum of 25 resources from the following required: 1-5 books read cover to cover, 10 or more magazine and newspaper publications, at least one video interviews or movies or documentaries, 1-5 person to person interviews, and limit of 10 internet sources. What was I going to choose?

The movie, “A Beautiful Mind”, about John Forbes Nash Jr., a famous mathematician, was just released to VHS video. I had heard it was very good to watch. One of the topics Mrs. Ackrey mentioned was schizophrenia, a hard topic she said to compose, but a lot of resources. I would combine school and a movie night with the family.

My topic chosen I was ready to begin work. I had one semester to do research, work two jobs and care for four children and their various activities, and get this paper written and bound to present for a grade.

Remember the five legal size notebooks, one notebook for each chapter. Index cards were for quotes. We were to have a introduction quote, table of contents, an introduction, five chapters and a conclusion, resource appendix. We could not do research in the class meetings, that was for instructions on how to write our rough draughts, chapter by chapter, and typing of the final research paper.

In one semester, for one class I read four books, cover to cover. I was at the library with my children, me in the reference area, them in the children’s area. I read at work between waiting on tables, read and took notes while my children did their homework. My children experienced with me the research and writing of this paper. We watched the movie three times, then I read the book, “A Beautiful Mind” written by Sylvia Nasar. I had the resources and was putting the information together chapter by chapter. In total I had over 35 resources listed and quoted in the research paper. My hand written chapters were turned into the teacher on time, and I went over her notes in detail.

Now to type it all together. Christmas was fast approaching, and I had cut my hours at work in order to do this research paper. I am very proficient at typing and understood how to type the research paper in the format instructed. There were three fellow students who paid me to type their research papers. This was allowed, you could have someone else type your research paper as long as they were noted on the title page as being the typist. I did not get my research paper typed and bond on time. I was late in presenting it the teacher. Those that I had typed their research papers for, were on time and presented on time. I had to travel to the school where she taught to turn my paper on the last day of acceptance. This translated to I needed to make an “A” on the research paper because I was so late in turning it in, I would just get a passing grade.

Two weeks after turning the research papers we would have our grades. For the first and probably only time in her life, Mrs. Ackrey was not ready to hand back the research papers with the grades. She told the class she would need an extra week due to a situation she had to deal with. We would continue with moving the last week up one week.

The day arrived, we were to get back our research papers with the class grade. I had been praying for a passing grade, not wanting to have to take this class again and put off graduation.

She started the class saying our grades were late in being given due to having sent a student’s research paper to the board of directors to review and later meeting with them to discuss the paper and action. In my mind I thought someone had plagiarize another’s work, which meant expulsion from the college.

She continued tell the class a student had turned their work in late. When I read their work, it was beyond excellent, beyond excellent. I had my husband read it, and the director of this campus. They concurred with me to send it to the Board of Directors. I also sent a few copies to colleagues at other colleges and university who teach on the subject. All came back with the same conclusion – the paper is definitely a master’s thesis and could be a doctorate thesis.

The students and I were puzzled, if this paper is so great, just give it an “A”, why take it to the Board of Directors.

In conclusion, she stated anytime an exception is made in a course syllabus it must be made by the Board of Directors, she could not do it on her own. By the syllabus, the student would be entitled to a “D”, but this thesis is way above a “D”. I must make every student aware that an exception has been made and why. Putting the research thesis that she was holding on the table, he looks at me, state my name “has written a doctorate quality thesis without any format mistakes and it should be published. The Board of Directors and I agree that she should receive a B grade for this amazing work. This thesis has been scrutinized by people in the top of that field on information and presentation and all were amazed that a student, who is in their second year of college wrote the thesis. She has over 35 references, She read four books, I saw her read them at work between waiting on tables. She has a family to take care of and works I know of two jobs. Some of you did not put any effort into your papers. And those of you who had her type your paper, the format was flawless, I hope you paid her well.” Then she laid three more research thesis on the table, those that I had typed. “You can come up and get your papers from the table.” and she started laying others on the table. When I went to pick up mine, she told me “I hope you publish this, it is truly that good.”

I had never been praised for my work as I was that night in the classroom. Within the box is a copy of the research thesis, all my notes, all my note cards, the seven legal notebooks, and a couple of letters from the people she sent the thesis to for review. I never published it, as I thought I would use it in another class if needed.

The box sits on a shelf in my closet, a story within itself.

amtolle

How does anyone live here?

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I lived between two extremes. The small town of Cortez, Colorado is located on the edge of the desert and San Juan mountains. I was a five minute drive to either extreme.

In 2009 I met my wonderful husband. Shortly after our marriage his job transferred him to north central Texas. I was excited to move to a new state and a new area, only I did not know how different it would be from the area I grew up in and lived in my whole life.

I enjoy many hobbies or activities. I garden. I love the feel of dirt touching my hands and fingers, moving the soil to cover seeds or roots. Garden soil smells good and life. I plant vegetables, flowers and herbs. I prepare and store the food that has grown by freezing or canning. Growing a garden is a part of who I am, the same with raising livestock. I just really love to grow plants and animals, watching them thrive and grow brings satisfaction to my inward self.

The place I live in Texas.

Where we relocated to in North Central Texas near Dallas/Fort Worth is green, lots of trees, bushes and vines. The winters are moderate with a week or two of freezing temperatures. The summers are hot and humid. The amount of plant growth was amazing to me, if plants grow like this without assistance, what would my garden be like. I imagined green plants, huge over size fruit and a vast number of fruit per plant. We moved in November, I planted my first garden in the first part of May.

The grass, weeds, vines and every other plant grows well without human assistance. I tilled up an area for my garden, I planted the seeds and plants. I watered it. Then I would pull weeds and unwanted plant growth every day. But, the grass, coastal grass, it grows under the ground, on top of the ground in long vine like tentacles. You can pull out of the ground, leave it on cement and if water gets to the grass it will grow on top of the cement until it finds dirt. Not through the cement but on top of cement. Those vine like tentacles would grow up my plants and weigh them down. My first garden there were no huge fruits, I had no fruits. There were no thriving plants….just coastal grass and weak garden plants. I grew beautiful gardens in a desert area, and I could not even get a plant to survive in a place with abundant plant growth. Frustration for sure set in.

Another very different change a I had to make was going outside barefoot. There is a phrase” In Texas it will bite you, sting you or stick you.” The phrase is so very true. The first time I stepped out with no shoes on, my foot soul was greeted with multiple sharp painful pricks. There are many plants with stickers. I looked at the ground to find out what plants the stickers came from and what to my amazing eye appear…… the ground was moving, literally with millions of insects. I learned the hard way to spray the ground I like to sit on with insect killer. I went to sit on the ground with my dog and play with her, I was covered in fleas.

I love to sit outside to think, meditate and just chill. Outside is the best place to be. One day I am sitting in the chair outside enjoying my morning coffee and suddenly a thud of something landing on the ground four feet in front of me. A black snake fell out of the tree. No more sitting under the trees.

I had moved to a place where the grass takes over everything, insects and spiders are everywhere, and snakes fall out of trees. I am terrified of snakes. ( on another blog I will share my Marilyn Monroe Moment in Texas). I was frustrated and unnerved the first year with all the challenges of Texas.

I do not give up easily. I read about coastal grass. Coastal grass is not native to the North American , it was brought into Texas for erosion control. They sprig plant coastal grass here. Which means they pull up the grass plant with a machine, let the sprigs dry, then spread, not till, just spread on top of the ground before it rains and it grows. With fertilization it provides a nutritious pasture and hay for livestock. I can raise ten times the number of animals per acre in Texas than I can in Colorado. I raise 50 head of ewes on twelve acres. This has a real benefit to me as a sheep farmer, my occupation.

I learned a new way to grow a garden using containers and raised garden beds. I still have to pull coastal out of my planters and raised garden beds, but I can stay ahead of the coastal grass. We have to treat the yard living area with herbicides for the stickers and insecticides for the insects. The dogs get regular flea bathes. I do not go barefoot outside anymore.

The first few years I hated our move to Texas. But I am not one to give up. I learned how to do things differently. I looked for the positive in the area. Such as I do not break ice twice a day on the water troughs for the livestock for four to five months. I can grow flowers and plants I only dreamed of having. I can have a garden ten months out of the year.

I overcame the frustration with education on what was frustrating me, such as coastal grass. And focused on what I gained, the milder winters and gardening ten months a year instead of four.

My game plan for any challenge is to identify the challenge, educate myself about what the challenge is and form a plan to have the challenge work to my advantage.

Amtolle