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My grandparent’s farm was my first classroom. The lessons learned have stayed with me through the years and woven themselves into the fabric of my history.

Witnessing the birth of a calf is perhaps one of the most impacting memories from those days. I remember it laying in the hay like black and white origami. The calf unfurled itself with the delicate precision of a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. First one leg descended, and then three more. Within minutes, it stood on four spindly limbs searching for its mother. The experience taught me how to be still and enjoy a moment.

I learned practical things too. A raspberry isn’t as sweet as it sounds when it’s on your knees. The best way to stop your bicycle is with your brakes. Peddling head on into a cedar tree will do the job, but it’s much more painful. This is how I learned about raspberries.

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Don’t pet bumble bees. They are furry and cute but they will sting — and it will hurt. Betrayal hurts. Sometimes folks just don’t play fair.

Ponies really will break into a wild run when they get close to the barn at the end of a journey they didn’t want to take. If you are tall, be careful riding through the barn door. There is wisdom in planning ahead.

Barn cats will teach a thing or two. Never bite the hand that feeds you if you hope to be fed again. In luring a barn cat, patience is required. Sometimes we must feign indifference before they wind around our legs. But even then, they may leave us once they have what they want. Some people can be that way. There is, however, the possibility that our endurance will be rewarded by a lingering friendship if our tolerance extends far enough. We may affect their life. They may affect ours. There in lies the sweetness of it all.

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