Story of the farmer and his son on a hilltop

“Have you heard the story of The Farmer and Son on a Hilltop?” My Aunt Kathy asked me this weekend.

“No,” I replied.

It’s a story my Grandmom told her. She is 93 years old.

Grandma was born in 1919. Back then farm animals were part pf everyday lives. They viewed the world differently than we do today. They had different social norms. Anyway, the story goes like this:

Standing on a hilltop over looking a field of cattle the son says to the farmer, “Pa, let’s run down and fuck one of those cows.” The farmer replies, “Son, let’s walk down the hill and fuck them all.”

It’s a metaphor for an important life lesson. But, it also has something to say about human relationships to livestock in the early 1900s. I started to love history in college and had a blog, read this post about our deep historical relationship to domestic animals.

Mostly, it’s just a new favorite story.

I’m excited to cultivate community roots, develop regional engagement of small independent businesses, grow sustainable local living and more for community resilience in the Appalachian region.

We must remember to live and work with patience and grace. We must train our brain to get to work everyday – even when we don’t want to – because that’s how we can really change the world. Do this and let’s “Fuck ’em all” …or let’s do all the things we want to.

Featured in HGTV magazine. #successfulcollaboration. I think I like the real world.



True Love & Happiness

Graduation 2013:

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I never thought i’d move back home after college. Sure, I knew I’d eventually want to come back. But right after graduation? Didn’t I have my own life to create elsewhere? The beginning of summer 2013 marked a life transition. I packed my bags and headed south to my home in the blue ride mountains.

Shesh, what was I going to do? I unpacked and reorganized my room. The idea that once seamed overwhelming… I began to embrace. I began to notice there might be a place for me in the slow town after all. My family’s small local business where I grew up packing mail and answering the customer service line in high school has grown and my newly acquired skills, naturally, is just what a small business needs to overcome the barriers of isolation.

I saw that I was not only needed in business – I was needed at home too. I began to love myself again in the mountain air. That’s what true love is: knowing that it starts with an inner smile and happiness. My energy returned. I spent long hours with my brother (5 years younger) who is a senior in high school. I walked across the land with my parents understanding how lucky I am to have a time-tested ecological forest treasure.

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The place and the people I was scared of embracing brought me happiness I thought was impossible. Then it happened. I went a step further. I realized my own capacity to influence the happiness of those around me. I picked up an understudy – a local high school girl with dreams of going to college and becoming a leader in agriculture. I have much to teach.erica-5744 erica-5747

We started with a mission statement. I brought out old papers from a half-a-decade ago. That’s when I wrote my first mission statement. There in my own hand writing I read, “I will wake up everyday with a heart filled with love and appreciation in a place where I can do the most good.”

My choices placed me exactly where I wanted to be – that is – where I can do the most good. I  remembered to celebrate every second of life. If i died today, I think I’d argue with them. This life is way to good to waste another moment not moving confidently in the direction of my dreams.

I’m building my garden. I’m making plans for the forest and fields only my brother and I with inherit. My family business is becoming more transparent and sustainable.


It is easy to read, “I am a part of all that I have met.” It is less easy to absorb the idea and to become part of it. Anyone can understand the superficial meaning of “And never lifted up a single stone,” or “Cover her face, mine eyes dazzle, she died young,” or “Sings hymns at heaven’s gate.” But to enter into their fullness and richness may take many solitary hours on a hilltop or many lonely walks on empty streets.

The mountains provided what I was missing. A place for solitude and time. These are the years for growing into wisdom, years when months are spent not in study as such but in becoming part of all that I have met in college and out of college.

If there’s one thing we all have in common it’s that we want to feel happy. Instead of telling myself dramatic stories about the past—how hurt I was or how hard it was— I challenged my emotions and focused on lessons learned.  That’s all you really need from yesterday. I began to practice letting things be. That doesn’t mean I can’t actively work to create a different tomorrow. It just means I now make peace with the moment as it is, without worrying that something’s wrong with me or my life, and then I could operate from a place of acceptance.

Life entails uncertainty, no matter how strong your intention. Obsessing about tomorrow wastes life because there will always be a tomorrow on the horizon. There are no guarantees about how it will play out. I’ve come to just know it hinges on how well I live today.

Serve your purpose now. I figured out what matters to me and am obsessed with filling my pockets of time indulging it. My advice? don’t wait—do it now.

Teach others. I suppose it’s human nature to hope for things in the future. Even the most enlightened people fall into the habit from time to time. I remind myself to stay open to possibilities by sharing ideas with other people. So I blog about it. Talk about it. Tweet about it. Opening up helps keep you open.

In trying to hold on to what’s familiar, we limit our ability to experience joy in the present. A moment can’t possibly radiate fully when you’re suffocating it in fear. When you stop trying to grasp, own, and control the world around you, you give it the freedom to fulfill you without the power to destroy you. That’s why letting go is so important: letting go is letting happiness in.

Enjoy now fully. No matter how much time you have in an experience or with someone you love, it will never feel like enough. So don’t think about it in terms of quantity—aim for quality, instead. Attach to the idea of living well moment-to-moment. That’s an attachment that can do you no harm.

Go it alone sometimes. Take time to foster your own interests, ones that nothing and no one can take away. Don’t let them hinge on anyone or anything other than your values and passion.

Hold lightly. This one isn’t just about releasing attachments—it’s also about maintaining healthy relationships. Contrary to romantic notions, you are not someone’s other half. You’re separate and whole. You can still hold someone to close to your heart; just remember, if you squeeze too tightly, you’ll both be suffocated.

Interact with lots of people. If you limit yourself to one or two relationships they will seem like your lifelines. Everyone needs people, and there are billions on the planet. Stay open to new connections. Accept the possibility your future involves a lot of love whether you cling to a select few people or not.

Yield to peace. The ultimate desire is to feel happy and peaceful. Even if you think you want to stay angry, what you really want is to be at peace with what happened or will happen. It takes a conscious choice. Make it.

Experience, appreciate, enjoy, and let go to welcome another experience.

It won’t always be easy. Sometimes you’ll feel compelled to attach yourself physically and mentally to people and ideas—as if it gives you some sense of control or security. You may even strongly believe you’ll be happy if you struggle to hold onto what you have. That’s OK. It’s human nature.

Just know we have the power to choose from moment to moment how we experience things we enjoy: with a sense of ownership, anxiety, and fear, or with a sense of freedom, peace and love.

The thought of my dreams? It scares me a little but life begins at the end of your comfort zone. I’m now filling my heart with what’s important and I’m done with the rest. My ideas are launched from the heart. Passion is my fuel. Possibility feeds my soul.

I’m back in the Blue Ridge.