altIt’s the night before the first day of school. I’m not sad. Not one bit. The hair has been cut; the supplies have been purchased. The clothes are laid out and the lunch boxes still need to be packed. This is the first year I’ve ever been truly READY for the kids to return to school. Our family just got back from a fantastic vacation, but we are in desperate need of schedules and structure.

The heat index is in the 90s and no one enjoys being outside. My husband spent the weekend repairing all the water damage to our gravel driveway. We have had a consistently wet summer with what has felt like tumultuous amounts of rain. It’s eroded away at our entire road. He and our neighbor/friend told me they were building me a redneck highway. It looked great when they finished it. A no pothole day on the farm is a great day. The kids and I got chores caught up on Sunday afternoon and crashed the neighbor’s pool.

This summer’s wet weather has taken its toll on our horses’ feet. We’ve had to keep them in a dry lot. From white line disease to foundering – we’ve experienced it this summer. The hooves need a lot more attention than I have been able to give them over this busy season. I’m praying the farrier has good news when he gives them a once over this week.

My husband has made the executive decision to downsize his cattle operation. After chasing cows and bulls across eastern Washington County, it’s time to pare down the herd. He has been busy building working pens to gather and sort the ones going to the sale barn from the ones we plan to keep. This has made me a little sad. I hate change. It was a difficult decision. In this season of our lives we need to minimize our liabilities and spend more time with our children. Fortunately, the farm and our other businesses afford us ways to incorporate our kids into the operations. We hope scaling back makes the winter feeding more manageable.

The kids are preparing several items to enter in the Washington County Fair. My youngest daughter helped with canning this summer and is looking forward to entering items in new categories. It really is the close of summer when the fair comes around. The girls are mostly excited about returning to school and seeing friends they’ve missed all summer long. The boys are pouting and have asked me multiple times if I would just homeschool them. I think they believe that would consist of sleeping in, wearing pajamas all day and riding their motorcycles. While I admire those gifted with the ability to effectively homeschool their children, I am afraid I don’t possess that gift.

I’m looking forward to football season, cooler weather and a more manageable schedule. We hope to soak up a few more barbecues, country music concerts and trips to the lake before summer comes to its close. Rather than dreading the change this year, I’m embracing it. I’m praying the kids have a blessed and safe school year across America. Bring on fall, neighbor!

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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