Life lessons are valuable

I’ve always believed that a little education goes a long way. Of course, I’m not dissing anyone with a college education, far from it. It’s just that sometimes the smallest life lessons come in handy for a lifetime. I make a habit of trying to learn something new every day, and rural life has a way of obliging me. So, for your edification and amusement, here are some of the more important things I’ve learned over the years.

Of course, there were the first lessons I learned out here. Never go into a chicken coop barefoot. Flip flops aren’t a good idea either if you happen to be wearing toenail polish. Also, while we’re on the subject of feet, always check where your feet are before stabbing an old-fashioned extra sharp pitchfork straight downwards. And, thinking of hay, you all remember not to pitch hay in summer wearing a tank top, I hope. I know I do.

If, by some miracle, we get enough snow to create drifts across the road and you do not own a four-wheel-drive vehicle, stay in the ruts made by other vehicles. Do not try to make your own. If you do, rest assured that your horse will not be able to pull your car out if you tie a tow rope around her tail. Just saying.

As always, there’s nothing like a good pair of work gloves. There’s nothing like a bad pair, either, for making any tough job seem a lot more miserable. Ditto good shoes or boots. Or tools. Or, well, anything, really. Who knew?

Here’s a pretty important one. Don’t crash your car. Not only is it dangerous and painful when it happens, it’s also a real pain to replace it. Or, if you manage to find a suitable replacement, it will cost an arm, a leg, a patella and possibly your firstborn. Not a good idea. Also, make sure your shoes are dry before trying to go downstairs after having an accident. Falling down stairs after said accident isn’t that pleasant either.

Pain seems to be a common thread here. If you own a very large dog who thinks that it must remain attached to you at all costs (including running joyfully up to you from the front or rear), use great caution when said dog must wear a cone. My dog recently had to have some stitches, and that cone is leaving what might possibly be permanent semicircles on my thighs and the backs of my knees. I don’t dare stand on any stairs if she’s behind me. For the record, I am not suicidal, and my husband and I are on good terms. Anything involving stairs IS an accident.

A tarp over your woodpile is an incredibly worthwhile idea. For some reason, it’s much easier to build a fire with dry wood. Anchoring said tarp is also a worthwhile idea, especially if you don’t want your horses to have apoplexy at the enormous brown flappy thing that appears intent on attacking them.

MacGyver was really underappreciated. Be sure to keep ratchet straps, bungee cords, baling twine and hair bands in your vehicle. You never know when you’re going to have to drive your half wrecked vehicle home after dark, in the blowing snow, with half of the front fairing flopping around like a dead fish. Duct tape would also probably work, providing you didn’t leave it in there over summer. Don’t forget a pocket knife. It’s not easy to chew through baling twine under pressure, and it tastes awful.

Friends are treasures to be cherished. Not only are they there for you through thick and thin, it’s great to have an extra pair of hands holding the camera to document your attempts at “interesting” things. After all, what’s the fun of doing something like that without having someone there to say “hold my pop” to while you’re doing it? And hey, you might need video evidence for the medical report later, or just for random TikToks. Along these lines, kids, there’s a correct time and place to tell your parents about all of the “interesting” stuff you try to do. It’s not right now. Trust me.

Life is grand, isn’t it, to provide us with not only opportunities to learn, but incentive to learn quickly and well. When I was younger, I always said that stupidity should be painful. Nowadays, I’d sure appreciate it if I could be a little smarter a lot faster, or if the consequences could be a little easier. But hey, you know me. I have to learn the hard way. I hope you don’t. Find your something to learn today, and may it be as painless as possible!

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