sasha_feather: Big book of Lesbian Horse stories book cover (lesbian horse stories)
1. What's the happiest thing to ever happen to you?
Getting a horse for Christmas when I was 11. Penny and I were soul-friends and I had so many good times with her. Here is a photo of us the next summer: https://flic.kr/p/63nL6f

2. What's the saddest thing to ever happen to you?
Maybe when my 2 best friends broke up with me when we were 11-ish (6th grade). In therapy, I determined this to be a watershed event for learning to shut down my emotions; and also the ringleader probably sensed something gay about me, and that is why she decided to stop talking to me. Also, the way they did it! They just stopped talking to me one day. I was bewildered more than anything.

3. What's the thing that got you the most angry in your life?
Probably at a therapist. I was about a day or two into a hypo-manic episode (?) after coming out and I thought she could help me. She didn't. I did write about it at the time http://sasha-feather.dreamwidth.org/375687.html (post was filtered but it's so long ago I will unfilter it, temporarily. Many of my older posts are locked down to private).
I got so angry about the Vivid Con ableism stuff in 2010 that I made myself ill. But, that anger has faded. I don't really feel it anymore.
I didn't get angry a lot before I came out; and then I was angry *all the time*; it seems better now a few years on.

4. What's the most frightening thing to ever happen to you?
Scary situations don't really "happen to me" so much as arise from my anxiety. I have gotten super anxious in totally mundane situations. It seemed like the only way out of the problem was to speak, and I was so anxious I could not speak, so I was stuck and frozen. Also, I didn't know why this was happening. Everyone else seemed to have no problem in these ordinary situations, like speaking to a teacher or knocking on a door. Then having random panic attacks sent me to therapy.
In a more traditional sense of frightening-- there was some scary-to-outsiders stuff with the horses, like getting bucked off. But it never seemed scary to me. Animals are easier than people, and that basic fear is easier to deal with than anxiety.

5. What's the most unbelievable thing to happen to you in your life?
a. Getting scholarships that paid for my college education
b. Getting a horse for Christmas!!!11!1!!!
c. Not realizing I was queer until age mumblety
d. getting facial pain that has no real diagnosis
e. Being on the State Champion poutlry quiz bowl team!

4-H

Jan. 6th, 2014 06:54 pm
sasha_feather: me with my brothers in 1982 (family)
In my previous post about sheep and 4-H, I did not explain what 4-H actually is. It was the water I swam in as a kid so I never really thought to explain it, and I still have trouble describing what it actually *is* sometimes! It's a youth leadership and development organization. In Minnesota, it's run by the University of MN extension. 4-H has roots in agricultural education (and the org. is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture), but since family farms are kinda on their way out, it's expanded to other kinds of education like job preparation, travel opportunities, etc.

We had monthly club meetings. Families attend club meetings, there are adult leaders and the older kids get to be club officers. Clubs do things like community service and fun activities. People can also be 4-H members without actually being in a club, though, if they are the renegade sort.

We had a few activities through the year like raking leaves for some older folks, staining a recycling shed, etc, but the main thing was the county fair in the summer and getting ready for it. In my family we raised and showed sheep and chickens, and later got into horses. We also exhibited our art projects from school and did many other projects (things like photography, sewing, doing a demonstration, making a display on a disease, etc). Any sort of research project you wanted to do, you could do in 4-H, and show it at the fair. There would be an interview with a judge and you'd get a ribbon. If we did well enough, we could go to the State fair, where we stayed in a huge dorm built by the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s, and little changed since then. And we'd get quite a bit of independence, roaming around the state fair grounds, eating junk food and having a blast.

As I got older there were other opportunities for me; I got to go to Washington D.C. on a trip, and later to Costa Rica, where they have a similar program called 4-S. I did a creative writing competition at the regional and state levels. I learned how to make a resume, give talks, and I did many interviews, which was a huge help as I went to college and grad school. For a few years after I graduated out of the program, I stayed on and ran the poultry show as superintendent. This means that I organized the show, announced things on the microphone, answered questions for the kids and the public, etc. It was fun and I miss it.
sasha_feather: me with my brothers in 1982 (family)
[personal profile] j00j asked about sheep and/or 4-H. My family has had sheep and other animals for almost as long as I can remember. My parents moved us from town to a hobby farm before I was in school. We raised sheep as a hobby, showed them in 4-H, and sold them for meat. My parents still do this, only without the 4-H part. We did many other things in 4-H also!

Sheep are pleasant, easy going animals. I find them calming to be around especially in the winter when they are munching hay in the barn, snow is falling outside, and the whole world seems so peaceful and just as it should be. From year to year on the farm, very little changes. The sheep have their lambs, the lambs grow up, the seasons change. Some sheep are friendly and some are skittish. Bottle-raised lambs in particular will come right up to you since they associate humans with milk. (We have some older ewes that get mastitis or whatever and don't produce milk; bottle lambs are a pain to have to feed every 4 hours though, so this situation is best avoided if possible.) I did most of the animal chores when I was in high school, after I got home from school. I enjoyed this work and miss it; it's very grounding to be around animals and I liked the routine.

Shearing is done by a professional. He comes every so often and shears the dozen or so ewes that my parents own, and takes the wool away. Wool from sheep like these (meat breeds) is practically worthless, maybe a few cents a pound. Unprocessed wool in general is sold for very little; the expense comes in the processing, or so is my understanding.

It is neat watching lambs being born. They stand up pretty fast and make cute bleating noises.

The weirdest/most interesting 4-H and sheep story I have relates to "Lamb Lead". It is a competition intended to promote the sheep and wool industry. Contestants must wear a wool outfit (in the height of summer) while leading their well-groomed sheep in the show ring. Then they must answer questions from the judge about sheep and wool, such as the good qualities of wool, breeds of sheep and what they are used for, etc. I won this competition once at the county level; I wore a wool suit, and even got my hair done and wore high heels! So silly! I was *not* into putting a stupid outfit on my sheep though, which some people did. We did all scrub our sheep clean with soap and the hose, and once I used black shoe polish on a sheep's face where the shears trimmed some of its face hair a little too close. :O

Another weird thing about 4-H is that people could get really competitive about it, even though the stakes were pretty low. This was in all the livestock areas; parents would spend all kinds of money on animals to try and get their kids to win. I still don't get that. For instance people might spend hundreds of dollars on a wether (a neutered male lamb) to show at the fair, and the market price for this animal was maybe 95 dollars IIRC. Weird.

Mostly I have very fond memories of my family and friends associated with 4-H, the animals, etc. 4-H is very good program; it encouraged me to have friends of different ages than myself and to do a lot of different things. The fair was the absolute best time of year, very very exciting! So much stimulation! Sort of like fan conventions are for me now. And growing up on the farm was pretty idyllic, ngl.

Here are a few sheep pictures at my Flickr. :)

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