Tuesday, September 18, 2012

kismet, crows, and other forces of good!

So I told you about the day with the Washington County Draft Animal Association, but another adventure happened after the parade and it might be an even better story. After the event was over and the horses were back in in their home pastures, Patty and I headed out for a second road trip of an entirely different nature. We were driving west of Saratoga, about an hour from our farms pulling her empty 18-foot long trailer behind her big Toyota SUV. Why the trailer you might ask? Well folks, we were on our way to pick up a new 6 person passenger wagon she bought on Craigslist for Steele. It was a happy drive, both of us talking about the day's events and the club. I started telling her how excited I was about the Mother Earth News Fair this coming weekend when suddenly the car just cried out, lurched forward, and died.

Uh oh.

So there we were next to a busy country highway with a dead SUV and the dead weight of the 3,600 pound trailer. Patty was calm, but worried. It was getting dark and neither of us had much of a charge left on our phones (thanks to using them all day to take videos and pictures of our horses).

But what followed after that inconvenience was nearly magical. We decided to walk over to one of the houses along the road, to ask for a towing referral and possibly a bathroom. Not 50 yards away from our break down was a comfortable looking house in proud condition, neatly kept lawn, that had a wooden sheep sign on the door and the sound of foraging animals clinking their bells around their collars. Could we have actually broken down next to a fellow shepherd?!

We walked up to the small farm's porch and took in the beautiful sight. We were greeted by two handsome, sleek border collies panting at us behind a statue of Buddha just outside the screened porch. Behind the house was a flock of those belled sheep we heard, Border Leicester like Maude! We could see from our new vantage point an older Border Collie watching them outside a wire fence. The house was bright, happy, and comfortable looking. If you had to break down along a stretch of strange road an hour from home, this was the place to do it. Brigit be blessed!

A tall, strawberry blond woman in her late thirties arrived at the door looking confident, if not concerned. I was happy both Patty and I were in our farm digs, her in an embroidered canvas vest that said Livingston Brook Farm and me in a NEBCA tee shirt with a Border Collie on it under the logo. We introduced ourselves as travelers on the road and told her what happened to our rig. She smiled and invited us in and got us a phone book. Soon as I walked inside, my jaw nearly hit the floor...

Her kitchen was decorated with sheep, border collies, and crows. On her kitchen counter a dozen large quarts of just canned tomatoes were drying from their water bath and she had a copy of The Backyard Homestead out on display. We found out her daughter's name was Raven, and she loved the black birds as well. Inside her home (a total stranger!) I felt as comfortable as if I knew this woman my whole life. Whoever she was, she was my people.

We got to talking. Turns out her name was Ann and she was in the same Border Collie Club, NEBCA, that I belonged to! We knew the same dogs, and trainers, and we talked about our dogs and sheep. She had something in common with Patty as well, since she even owned a Percheron once. A horse she loved, rode, and drove. Patty lit up as she saw the horse photos on the fridge. As they talked about old horses and harnesses I just looked around at the magical house. It was full of black crows, horse photographs, taxidermy, collies, sheep, and homesteading paraphernalia. We had been rescued by a card carrying member of my tribe. If someone tells you crows aren't lucky, never believe another word they say. They're angels, them.

We called a tow truck and got a ride back to Saratoga with the Matt's Towing Agency. Then Tim Daughton of the Amazing Rescuing Daughton Family came with his big Suburban to carry us home from our adventure. I love that family and their generous spirit. I knew as soon as we were stranded that a phone call to them was all that was needed. When things go wrong, you call a Daughton. When I called Tim and Cathy, Tim was out digging potatoes in their lower field and within 40 minutes of getting our call he was on the road to pick us up. I don't know how the Daughtons feel about crows or angels but they all have a lot in common far as I'm concerned.

We made it through the mini crisis. The SUV was at the repair shop and the weary travelers had a ride home and so did their ridiculous trailer. The only hiccup was having to stop at a Walmart around 9PM to get the right electric converter gadget for the trailer's lights. I had not been in a Walmart in years and it kinda shocked me, the amount of stuff, harsh lights, and prices. Towels were two dollars? Shirts were Five? I remembered a study Brett Told me about that 90% od items purchased at Walmart find themselves in a dump six months later. I belive it. You don't carefully mend a five dollar dress shirt when you spill wine on it. You mop it up with a two dollar towle and throw them both away...I guess.

Anyway, we bought the electric converter and it will not be in a landfill in six months because it worked and got us legally home. I was back at Cold Antler around 10PM and happy to see my dogs and warm bed.

In all that fuss something pretty neat occurred to me. When bad things happen I am a hundred times calmer than when they aren't. I find this odd. I mean, I can wake up at 3Am like clockwork worried about things that have not happened and may NEVER happen... but put me in an actual crisis and I am relaxed, calm, action-oriented and positive. No part of me worries at all. There isn't space for panic, and I never do. I just work towards the goal which is safety and home. I felt the most normal I have felt in months standing on the side of the road calling tow trucks. It reminded me of when I was working summers at my college as a camp counselor and there was a fire in one of the dorms. My friend, Raven, came to my room knocking and worried. I just grabbed my illegal pet ferret, stuck her in my hoodie, and pulled the fire alarm. I told her we were going to be fine and I didn't see any smoke. Maybe I should volunteer to be a firefighter or EMT? Isn't that exactly the kind of people they need?

So my day started with one kind of adventure and ended with another. The reason I am sharing this story is because it only illustrates how important community truly is. Patty and I are both tough chicks and homesteaders in our own right. We can shoot a shotgun, ride a horse, and grow gardens of food but it still takes love, support, care, and kindness of others to keep the self-reliant going strong.

I am grateful to all who got us home safe, from the stranger with a house full of crows, to the towing man, to Tim Daughton and his tough '99 Suburban. Thank you. May the crows always fly over you in pairs!


Blogger Glyndalyn said...

What a wonderful story. And you can pass the kindnesses forward.

Surprised to learn Wal-Mart is in New England. We have visited rural Vermont several times and were pleased to see the retail establisments were not big box stores. They are here in TN, of course, but I try never to go there. I always see customer's bad behavior and cheap Chinese products. However, they are the closest "general store" at 15 miles away. Interesting about the discarded items.

September 18, 2012 at 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I brashly make two suggestions:
1. Give Ann a signed copy of one of your books
2. Join your local volunteer fire department

Thanks for writing!

September 18, 2012 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Moose Hollow Farm said...

It sounds like you & Patty had quite a busy time of it. You stayed cool and worked through it. I think that this calmness might be partly due to being away from the stress of the workplace. I retired 5 years ago to babysit my grandkids and, even though I have had several very stressful situations with them, I find that I can still handle stress better than when I was working outside the home. I find that I'm better at staring problems in the face & attacking them headlong,too ~ not as much of a procrastinator as I used to be. There's a lot to be said for working from home.
Bless people like Ann that welcome strangers into their home to help them out. She sounds like a special person.

September 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

Great story

September 18, 2012 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Love this story! Fate must have dropped you off at her doorstep for some reason ☺

September 18, 2012 at 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are studying Gaelic. What would the Gaelic name be for "Two Crows Flying" Farm. - I'm thinking ahead - and thanks for the other info.


September 18, 2012 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger jules said...

How wonderful to have found Ann! You should keep up with her.

September 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Now that's the law of atraction at its finest...I do believe you weild some powerful magic girl!

September 18, 2012 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Love this.

September 18, 2012 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger PansWife said...

Our true selves come out in crisis. Yes, you should join the volunteer firefighters, they need people like you.

September 18, 2012 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger Mist said...

Glad you both made it home safely! The kindness of strangers and friends alike...

We have something in common with this dead-calm-in-an-emergency bit. In fact, when you called for your readers to comment with what they really wanted out of life, one of the things I said I wanted was to find something to make use of this particular aspect of my nature. :)

September 18, 2012 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

Lovely post! I love how you recognize people in your tribe! I think mine are into vaudeville, cartoons, silent films, and jazz.

Also enjoyed the bit about being calm in actual scary situations. I am exactly the same way, down to wondering if I should be an EMT. I definitely won't do this as a career path but I hadn't considered being a volunteer firefighter! You've given me food for thought.

September 19, 2012 at 1:29 AM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

Oh, and one other little tidbit: I wrote down my life path, like you had asked us all to do a bunch of posts back -- thank you for that, by the way, wow!!! It's super powerful! It was the biggest gift out of the many gifts you've given me so far -- and I've been telling people around me about it and about the process! And so many of them are saying, "Wow, that's totally what I've been meaning to do!" and then they go do it and it's amazing and then they come back with stories of telling their other friends who might even say, "Holy crap, I need to cut our visit short so I can go do this RIGHT now! Do you have any pen and paper I could borrow?"
So yeah. THANK YOU! Exactly what the world needs! :)

September 19, 2012 at 1:34 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Excellent tale! As I replied to Jon on one of his posts.."good always finds good."

Be well,


September 19, 2012 at 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this story.

I'm a "calm in the middle of a storm" type, too. I'm Woody Allen neurotic at any other time, but give me a crisis and I'm cool as a cucumber. I was speaking with my husband about volunteering as a firefighter the other day. I'd have to get in better shape, though.

It's wonderful to have a community like yours. I crave that.

September 19, 2012 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Pit Stop Farm said...

Beautiful story. If anyone ever needed proof that fate exists, here it is. I agree, you should send one of your books to Ann and direct her to your blog.

September 19, 2012 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

Wow, you had a ferret? Very cool! What happened to her?

September 19, 2012 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger Gelfling said...

I'm an nurse in one the busiest ERs on the east coast... and I am happier than a pig in poo when it's all hitting the fan. When I'm in a crisis, I feel like I am in my element, like everything inside starts working like a well-oiled machine. That is precisely what you need to be to do any kind of emergency work, and there is always a need for EMTs. Take a class and get on a rig, they'll love you.

September 19, 2012 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

I'm the same way--super calm when things are bad, but falling apart and anxious over anything or nothing when things are fine.

You're exactly where you should be. I have personally witnessed you dealing with several crises and have read about more of them here on the blog. Farming provides plenty of opportunity for a cool head in an emergency, it seems to me.

September 25, 2012 at 9:35 AM  

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