altWinter break was long this year for Fayetteville (Ark.) Public Schools. Having Christmas and New Years Day fall in the middle of the work week this year had every single one of us confused about what day it was every day of the week. Thankfully the weather has been great. I’ve been juggling our office with having the kids at home. That usually ends up with at least one kid accompanying me to work in the hopes for a trip “out to lunch.”

During the very long break, a neighbor called to let us know he’d gotten up his cattle and found one of our missing momma cows from her journey down the White River. My husband and the kids headed over there to load her up and put her back with her herd family. She was glad to be home. We were all happy she was back.

My husband used some of his time off to fix our always-needing-potholes-filled gravel road. He spent some time doing some excavation work on our property to create some trails while cleaning up dead trees. We are always grateful for a few days to play catch up on the farm and property.

The kids and I got a little stir crazy, so we made some time for local adventures. Our neighbors invited us out to our local bowling alley and the competition was on. The first game we all bowled like it was our first time. Now, the second game, the bowling talent turned on. My husband and my three younger children are extremely competitive – especially when it comes to sports. By the end of the 10th frame, I had four strikes and won the game by a landslide. I laughed, they pouted.

I prefer to call my resolutions, New Year’s challenges. For some reason, resolutions are something people notoriously give up by the end of January but a challenge I will fight to the death for.

This year I gave myself a fitness and nutrition challenge that seems to be going well. These are always hard when you live with five other people who eat macaroni and cheese like it’s the chef’s special. I also challenged myself to read and review at least 45 books by the end of the year.

Last year, when my daughter started competition dance, we discovered there was a lot of “down time” waiting between numbers. I met another mom who read voraciously during that downtime. I remembered, “Hey wait! I love to read, why aren’t I doing that?” I was inspired and read a lot in 2019. The key to this was shutting off the television and making a few trips to the library to find a good book to enjoy.

So far, the book challenge is going well and I’m on number 3 for the year. I would love to have recommendations from our wonderful Ozarks Farm & Neighbor readers if anyone wants to send any my way on Instagram (countrygirl_reads).

Whether your challenge is how to get through a long winter break or a new farm project, I wish you well, 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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