Letters from Strangers

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed for one of my favorite radio programs, The Story with Dick Gordon. It was very exciting to be part of a show I enjoy and admire so much!

After the program aired, something really surprising happened. I started getting emails, LOTS OF EMAILS! People from all over the country wrote to me to tell me what they thought of my interview.
I heard from truck drivers, professional gamblers, stay-at-home moms, and many, many corporate folks who said they dreamed of escaping their cubicles. I heard from people who were happily married, and people who were unhappily married, and those still hoping to meet someone.

The family of one of Ransom's old girlfriends even wrote to me saying they agreed he was a great catch, and wished they could have kept him instead of their niece! What can I say?* He's a keeper.

Some people wrote to share stories of visiting Vermont, others confided they had always wanted to try farming.  Nearly everyone expressed their desire to live a simpler way of life. Nearly everyone talked about the chances they wanted to take, but were hesitant.

It was amazing and completely humbling to realize how many people were listening.

A few of the messages brought me to tears. For instance...

After having a brain aneurism and stroke a year ago i had to quit working a 30 year career. I have had a lot of time to read, think, listen, to what life is all about. I heard your interview on NPR today. I'm pretty sure it was "for a reason". Your courage to say yes to what was asked of you and go against what others thought would be best for you, tells me i can listen more closely to what my heart and God is tying to tell me. You have given me a reassuring hope and insight on how we are part of a plan that we don't know and a higher power has control of.


It has taken me five weeks, but I have now written everyone back (except for a few who wrote anonymously).**

The experience has taught me how important it is to share our stories. There was a time when I faced some really unhappy circumstances and felt very lonely and overwhelmed. I turned inward and cut myself off. It wasn't until I started opening up to the world around me that things changed for the better.  

When I started this blog, I was afraid it was self-indulgent and silly, but I did it any way. We spend too much time in our lives censoring ourselves, isolating ourselves.*** I've come around to the opinion that life is too short to keep everything inside.

You might as well tell your story.

* Don't get any big ideas, Auntie, I do not share.

**As I read these emails late at night, at my computer, wearing my favorite yoga pants with the disintegrated elastic waist, I felt truly unworthy.

***this does NOT apply to those awkward self-portraits some people take of themselves with their cell phones while posing sexy in their bathroom mirror. In that case, please continue to censor yourself. No one wants to see you making kissy faces, standing in front of your dirty toilet. 


Red, White, & MOO!

July 4th is the anniversary of our nation's Independence, but here at Riverside Farms it will also forever be known as the day the Conants took home the grand prize in the Richmond town parade.

Getting ready to head into town -- before the Conant clan boarded

Now, I was never really into the crepe-paper insanity of spirit week back in high school, and if I had the opportunity to sneak out of a pep rally, I'd gladly take it. Frankly, I was never much of a joiner.

But that mentality just doesn't cut it here on the farm, and in my new role as a bona fide farmer's wife I decided I needed a radical attitude make-over, crepe-paper included. Which is why I decided we'd be entering a float in the July 4th parade this year.

At first RM was very reluctant! "Too much work to do! No time to build a float!" But that didn't stop me, and frankly his resistance didn't persist very long. Soon he was charging forward on construction and every one was joining in -- his sisters, brother-in-laws, cousins, and Ryan and Melissa, part of our farm staff.

Melissa and Liberty
The star of our float was a real-life calf we named Liberty, and a costumed cousin named Greg who danced around (and frankly, nearly died of heat stroke) inside a giant cow outfit. My vintage 1974 tractor pulled the float, and our classic Case followed behind. Some lovely dairy maids and their men handed out goodies to the crowd. RM wore a "barrel" of cheese (I wish I had a better photo!) and the little boys and I dressed in overalls.

Our friends at Cabot Cheese and Keep Local Farms donated some fun giveaways. Thanks to their generosity, we were able to toss yummy cheese and funky cow bracelets to the crowd. Parade go-ers of all ages eagerly snatched up the giveaways.

Greg: smiling on the outside, sweating on the inside!
When the parade was over, we all headed to the lake to cool off and hoped for the best. Around 3pm, as I floated in a giant pink inner tube, someone yelled out to me that the parade judges had called.

"We won first place!"

Was it the free cheese, the cow costume, the calf, or the fact that we told the judges we'd donate the proceeds back to the parade fund that ultimately sealed our victory? Perhaps we'll never know for sure. What I do know is, if you thought this year's float was good, Richmond, look out! The Riverside Farms parade committee has big plans for next year!