Monday, June 18, 2007

Other People's Dreams

"You should grow Sweet Annie! It's easy to grow, and then you can dry it and dye it and sell it at Farmer's Market! I can use it to make wreathes, too!" said a Helpful Friend. So I bought a 6-pack and planted it along the walkway by the back door. By the end of the summer it was 6 feet tall and covering most the path. I got harvest/post-harvest instructions from a flower-growing friend, and got some harvested and almost dried before running out of steam. HF was nowhere in the picture.

I've thought about this a lot lately because I've figured out why the lady I bought the starts from was snickering. My cell phone reception is best in the back yard, so I've been spending a lot of time there. And so that the time I'm on the phone isn't wasted, I weed the yard with my left hand. And the thing I am weeding is Sweet Annie, which probably produced close to a million seeds that first year. Sheep don't like it--it has a pungent fragrance--so it grows abundantly, untouched by any of the animals and more than happy to fill in the bare spots where the sheep grub out their favorite forages. It is extending its territory on the farm year by year. I am vowing never to let it seed again on my land.

Another Helpful Friend encouraged me to buy the pony, Jasmine, that I had for a couple years. I have very little experience with equines; HF related once again how she'd worked in stables all through adolescence, and assured me that she would teach me everything I needed to know. The day the pony arrived, HF was there waiting, good as gold. Too good, perhaps. Excited to have a horse in her life again, she immediately began teaching me how to lead the pony. Around and around the frozen wintery garden in big circles, HF drove us: Me leading the reluctant pony, HF walking behind.

Too close behind. Finally, at wit's end, the tired and throughly confused, newly transplanted pony had had all she could take. She let a swift kick fly at my friend, who really should have known better than to stand in striking distance. The impressive bruise on HF's thigh was a fitting symbol for our thoroughly bruised friendship. HF judged the pony as vicious and swore she would never go near it again. I secretly sided with the pony, and judged the HF as unreasonable to expect the pony to take in stride a rigourous training session after the 1/2 hour trailer ride down gravel roads to a new farm with new people. But, without a mentor I really couldn't do much with the pony, and eventually I sold her to an excellent home with a little girl and a knowledgeable extended family who simply adored her.

Another HF heard that I'd been offered a free llama. "Oh, take it, take it" HF cried. "I'll help you train it." HF never even saw the llama; she ended our friendship soon after insisting that I needed a llama. Wednesday morning the shearer will come shear the llama--always a somewhat gruesome event involving ropes, cussing, spewing of half-digested food, unearthly shrieks of protest, and kicking.

This is an ongoing pattern: people encouraging me to live out their dreams (which are my dreams, too--though if left to myself they are low-priority ones) only to abandon me as soon as things get a little too "interesting" or monotonous.

Apparently, with an accomplice I will try just about anything (maybe not bungee jumping...), plunging headlong into a new endeavor, eager to be working with a friend on a shared project. Apparently, I tend to pick accompices who will bail out when the project is barely begun.

Right now I am contemplating major changes in how the farm is operated, in my off-farm job, and in my personal life. I find myself desparately lonely for an accomplice...someone to bounce it all off of, to enthusiastically tell me to do the thing I want to do, but am afraid I am terribly unprepared (usually with good reason).

How much of the farm is MY dream? How much is someone else's? And who will actually stick around when there's work to be done?

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