Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

Month: July 2013

When Kids Have Other Plans

Parents know best.
Ahem, well maybe parents dream best. At least that is what I have found to be true when I try to fit my kids’ futures in perfect boxes then turn around to see that they have managed to mould the box into a completely different shape.
A perfect example occurred this week when Middle Son went for his beginning band evaluation. We had prepared him to play trumpet like his brother, dad, two uncles and grandfather.
We arrived at the school with our trumpets in hand, and Middle Son demonstrated his trumpet prowess to the band director. Her response?
“You’re going to be a tuba-man.”
Perturbed, I responded from the corner of the room, “Everyone in the family plays trumpet.”
The director smiled and handed Middle Son a trombone, then a baritone, which he played. With her hands on her hips, the director said again, “I really think you’re a tuba-man.”
She hoisted the brass tuba into Middle Son’s lap, having to help hold the behemoth while he blew into the mouthpiece with trumpet lips.
I smiled with satisfaction when the sound of dying geese echoed around the room.
The director instructed him how to loosen his lips and asked him to blow again.
A big, beautiful, deep sound filled the room and my smile fell at the same time Middle Son’s face lit up.
Oh. No.
 “I told you he was a tuba-man. But of course it is still up to you both if he wants to play tuba.”
Of course he can’t play tuba, he has to play trumpet. It’s in his blood!
Then she said, “The tuba is free for the year, it belongs to the school.”
My sweet freckled-cheeked son flashed me a dazzling smile and I… caved. What could I do?
He’s a tuba-man.
Now we just have to tell his dad…

He’ll grow into it right? Right?

The Elusive Dream

I felt a twinge of sadness as I stared at the big cow eyes in the back of the trailer parked in knee-deep grass in the back pasture. But business is business as they say.
No calves = a short future at the livestock barn.
Neither of our girls calved this year. We waited 12 months past their breeding date, which is two months past hope. We knew the statistics, at thirteen the cows risked living past their usefulness with each year.

Bye, bye girls.

I really worried when we got into cattle ranching that I would be devastated each time the calves were trucked off, but it never happened. It could have something to do with staring into the eyes of a 1,400 pound animal and seeing the shocking truth: she has no problem mowing you down if you are between her and what she wants.
It might also have something to do with the feeling of elation that accompanies the large rectangular check from the sale barn.
Either way, the dreams we have for the Funny Farm keep changing. If I was being honest I would have to admit that the Farm seems to have her own dreams and we just play along, trying to learn fast enough to avoid loosing money. And it appears that there has been a long-range plan that we were not made aware of…pecans.
Turns out, this place is bursting at the seams with pecan trees. Aside from the six enormous producers in the back pasture, over 50 more trees have been discovered while clearing.
The number is so ridiculous that we actually cannot find a small parcel of land for the barn because there always seems to be a pecan tree who got there first.
Hubby and I have been taking as many classes as the Agricultural Extension Office will allow in order to learn about grafting, fertilizing, planting, and care in order to catch up to the reality that our ranch has always known: she is a pecan farm.
For those of you who are interested in organic farming, we are consuming as much information as possible about no-till farming, utilizing cover crops for fertilization and, wait for it, bee keeping. Turns out, the bees greatly increase nut production in trees.
Here we go…

One of the cleared pecan trees in the back pasture. This one is over 120 years old. The tiny animals in the picture are our dogs, who are both over 45 pounds. This is one big tree.
A representation of the pecans from three of our trees last winter.