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Life on a Ranch

Updated: 7 days ago

Summer is officially in full swing- not only is the calendar officially calling it summer now, but looking out across the Grande Ronde Valley, crops are growing, cattle are grazing, irrigation is watering, and equipment is running. Besides the birds who wake us up bright and early, one of my favorite sounds of summer is the sound of sprinklers- whether they’re in our yard or out in the hay fields, I like the rhythm and I just really love water. That’s one of the reasons I’ve developed an appreciation for irrigating. In contrast, irrigation pumps are one of the reasons I haven’t appreciated irrigating. I’ve always been intimidated by irrigation pumps- which switches to turn and valves to open and in which order. Buck has walked me through it more times than I’d like to admit. That is, until last week when I had to start the pump several days in a row. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I would say now I’m competent. Speaking of calling oneself an expert, back in nursing school there were two nursing theories that stuck with me for life. The first is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you aren’t familiar, the idea of Maslow’s is pretty simple- that for humans, our basic physiological needs have to be

met first: food, water, shelter. Then we have to be safe. Next is belongingness: having love through family and/or friends. After that comes esteem: feeling a sense of purpose and accomplishment. And finally, self actualization: achieving one’s full potential. Each of the areas builds on the others, and the whole pyramid

is built on those physiological needs that create the base by which all of the others can build. (If you now feel

like you’re reading an essay instead of a column, hang in there with me because I do always come around to making a point; sometimes it just takes a while!) Maslow’s Hierarchy stuck with me because it actually shaped the way I see the world. It is one of the reasons I’m really passionate about working with moms and their babies. Kids who start out with the base layers of the pyramid strongly and securely in place have a better chance of moving up through the other layers and, ultimately, finding a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Besides my career, I also see it as one of the best and most important parts about 4-H and FFA. Assuming basic needs and safety are met, a lot of kids find a sense of belonging because of the relationships they form through these programs. Then, the icing on that cake is a sense of purpose and accomplishment that comes through agricultural pursuits. Raising an animal, growing crops, and learning to work all provide an avenue for kids to eventually reach their full potential. After Maslow’s, the second most important theory that stuck with me is “Novice to Expert”. Technically, it’s “Novice to Expert in Clinical Nursing Practice.” But saying it like that really makes this sound like an essay and, as you’ll see, I don’t think the theory has exclusive rights to nursing. This is a series of steps: Novice, Advanced Beginner, Competent, Proficient, and Expert. Writing that out makes it sound remarkably similar to the list of showmanship classes at the county fair. Those steps are pretty self explanatory, but the part I’d like to zoom in on is the novice. From here forward, there is no theory (besides my own) to back up what I’m saying. I think kids often find themselves in a novice role- they are learning new things all the time and so, starting something new isn’t that big of a deal. They learn quickly and before you know it, they’re moving right on through the stages, gaining proficiency and some, eventually even reach expert level. But as an adult, it can be incredibly uncomfortable to be a novice at something. It can be really humbling to start something you’ve never done! It took me all of those words to tell you this: I’m getting ready to take a break from my “vacation” and head back to work. Since our chief hay-raker was away at her favorite summer camp this past week, I took the whole week “off” to rake alfalfa. And guess what level I started at? Yep, novice. Buck gave me a quick tutorial (a few laps in the buddy seat) and then turned me loose. Cooper filled the buddy seat, which was both helpful (he’s been the buddy in that seat before!) and also, entertaining. Through experience, I learned what all the levers do- “in” means "out" unless you’re adjusting the steering, then ”out” means "in". For the rake experts out there, I’m joking. I actually stopped looking at “out” and “in” and just watched the rake! I also learned how to glance forward and stay center, but also watch behind me. The left side of my neck now stretches further than the right as I’m completely incapable of looking over my left shoulder to make adjustments. I only got the rake tangled up a couple times the first day and those tangles were important- they’re actually what helped me figure out how to adjust the rake rather than leave it set where Buck left it. That proved to be very important while I was raking hills and navigating around obstacles. Over the course of the week, I only cried once. Which, until now, no one knew about- you’re officially the first to know! I knew I had moved out of the novice stage when Buck was with me, and he could have folded up the rake to move to the next field, but instead he said, “You might as well do it, you’re the one whose been running it.” And since I mentioned him, I’ll wrap this up with Buck. This week is our 20th anniversary, two decades of holy matrimony! We got married on July 3rd with my (novice) idea that we’d always have a long weekend or day off on the 4th. The joke was definitely on me as July 3rd has never been a time we can “get away”. And after 20 years, I’m not sure where we fall on the novice to expert scale. Do relationships ever fit on a rigid scale? I do know we fit into the “esteem step” on Maslow’s Hierarchy. We have a sense of purpose (more than one!) and are constantly working towards a sense of accomplishment in our family life, professional life and agricultural life. But, it’s the next level of “reaching our full potential” that feels like the weight of mid-life. It’s a season of evaluating what we’re doing and how we got here. It’s figuring out what’s working and what isn’t, taking stock of the goals that brought us this far and then making adjustments. We don’t know what challenges and victories the next 20 years will hold, but I do know Buck. And I know he feels like “home” to me and, since I’m a bit of a homebody, there’s no place I’d rather be, right here in Union County! -Chelsea




LEFT: Cooper, riding buddy seat RIGHT: Elk calf between wind rows


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