When you can’t make it one more day but you have three more to go.
When you’re on day three of no shower and covered in dust to the point your eyes and throat hurt.
When you wake up and your back throbs from the goat kick you got in the back two days ago trying to pick one up to get it in the bed of the pickup.
When you’ve been to the fair, fed, watered, cleaned pens, then do the same for your friend’s animals because they live further away so you offer to save them the early morning drive, corner and wrestle 2 sheep to get their muzzles off -for the first time in your life, wonder how on earth you ever believed sheep were gentle and sweet, track down a zip tie, fix a broken sign, and drive back home to work the horses that have stood in stalls for too many days, clean all the stalls and pens at home that have been neglected- because this is the first chance you’ve had in three days …by 8:30 AM.
When you sit down for cereal and coffee and a moment of writing to clear your head for the first time in three days. Completely ignoring the sink of dishes and the mud all over the floor because you know you have to be back at the fair in two hours. They won’t die of neglect and they will still be there in 3 more days …unfortunately.
Seeing the pride and sense of accomplishment in my daughter’s eyes wearing her Grand Champion junior division dairy goat belt buckle.
More so, though, seeing her move into adolescence, get pimples on her perfect nose, body start to change, have a growth spurt that leaves her taller than every single friend and peer she has, hair mat up in knots from 3 days of hard work and no time for primping… unless we’re talking goat primping and recognizing that she quite simply doesn’t care. She is barely noticing these things. She wakes up still in her braided pigtails from yesterday’s show, frizzed out and wild and jumps in the truck bright eyed saying “it’s a nice morning”. She doesnt say “how’s my hair?”. She exudes confidence and passion for life. Sometimes these things rear their head of course, a comment asking if her nose is too big or the like. She’s only human but she moves right past it and gets to work on the important things. I wish I could say the same for myself sometimes. She doesn’t get stuck. She looks to the nice morning and digs right in. When I notice girls about her age prancing about the fair, near the rides, flipping their hair, make-up on, cell phone screens in hand, grouping up, giggling, teasing a boy, looking just slightly insecure underneath it all, remembering those years myself and how hard they are. When I bring myself back to where I’m standing in the middle of all this dust, look around at the girls and boys here who are caring for their animals. When I see the difference and for one quick second thank God. When I glimpse my daughter starting to get panicked over something I would think trivial-like a broken sign showcasing her favorite goat-and realize it is not trivial so I go hunt down a zip tie. Her happiness and calm back. For that, I am going to make it three more days.