If you had asked me twelve years ago what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have had an exact answer for you. Marine Biologist. But, that was a pipe dream. Short-lived to say the least. After graduating High School, I (like most), had a much tougher time answering that same question.
What did I want be when I grew up? I was a good student. I didn't try bringing much attention to myself. I made good grades, and stayed out of trouble. However, it was difficult for me to put myself into a four year university state-of-mind. I enjoy change. I like being creative. I love learning. But something about those four walls, for four years, scared the daylights out of me.
So I worked. I worked hard. Two jobs, Seven days a week, 75 hours a week. I wanted to prove to myself that I could support myself on my own. In turn, bettering my skills in the customer service line of work. While working for a restaurant, I met a woman who's hair was as flawless as her personality. She, after one conversation, convinced me that cosmetology may be the path for me. I had never considered the option, but why not? I'm creative, I like being hands-on, and I'm a good people person.
So I did it. 1500 hours of cosmetology school over a series of 14 months. It was the most exhausting, yet liberating experiences of my life. I learned so much about myself and who I "thought" I wanted to become. I really found a home with hair care.
About five years had passed. I still enjoyed my choice in career. I'm being creative. I'm taking on responsibility in the work environment. I'm actually doing something hands-on, that I truly feel may be changing someone's life. And then it hit me...
.. What about me? Can I do this for the rest of my life? And, am I truly, happy?
Happy. That's a word we take for granted nowadays. I realized I was doing so much for everybody else at work, at home, in public, that I forgot about... me. What did I really want?
So I sat down. I thought really hard. It was at this point that I thought back to my garden that I had planted the previous Summer. It was my first attempt at an above-ground plot. I didn't know the rules, but I gave it my best shot and learned as I progressed. I thought about the feeling I had going out everyday pruning my tomatoes, and picking my squash. The heart-break of a dry week, and the elation of a hearty yield.
There it was. There was my happy. Dirt, seeds, vegetables; getting sweaty and sore, but feeling so accomplished. That's where my happy was and that's where I needed to be.
Lucky me, Charlotte/Concord is a smaller world than I imagined. You rub enough elbows, you find your connections, and networking blossoms! I met Elizabeth Anne Dover through my best friend. They had gone to school together and she knew I had the farming-bug buzzing in my ear. We connected and set up an interview.
First impressions are important to me. It doesn't matter whether your interviewing for the position of CEO or cashier at your local grocery store, you need to convey who you are; and I think dressing professionally speaks volumes. So I came in what I wore best. Black slacks, white button up shirt, and my emerald green cardigan. Needless to Elizabeth Anne was taken aback. No one expects to see a farm hand dressed in their Sunday best. What was I doing? "She's not going to take me seriously," I thought to myself. In fact, it was just the opposite. She welcomed me with open arms, rather relieved that I hadn't picked up a new pair of Carhartt's the day before to "look the part". She hired me on the spot, and I began my transition into the agricultural world two weeks later.
I have been working for Elizabeth Anne, Dover Vineyards, for about six months now. I can honestly say, without any hesitation, that I am happy. More than happy, even. This job has done more for me than I can explain. I wake up every morning happy to start the day and I go home every night, worn out with satisfaction of a hard day's work. And although it may not be in a classroom, I am learning so much and so many life skills, that I don't feel that I have missed any opportunities taking the path I did.
When people hear farm they automatically think of cows, goats, chickens, vast cornfields, overalls, and tractors. Little do they know it's precise calculations, trial-and-error, understanding your land and taking those risks to see if what you had planned can become a reality. Farming is much more than laying seeds, watering occasionally, and fertilizing. Some days we walk through the vineyards collecting clippings from every individual plant in hopes of germinating a new vine. Other days we hand shovel compost into the back of a Ram 1500 and hand spread across two of our acres to enrich the soil before tilling for the next crop. Farming is planting 600 feet of collards and Kale, hoping you won't lose your crop to snow
. Farming is camping in the middle of your vineyard with controlled fires, at midnight, when it's under 10 degrees to make sure your vines are sterilized, but not killed off. Farming is a loving, frustrating, hard-work inducing industry, and is not for the faint of heart. And I love every minute of it.
We are small little work family with a lot of gumption. From all walks of life, we have come together and have found who we are. I still have a lot to learn, a lot. However, everyday is something new. Everyday I learn new skills, new techniques. I am becoming more rounded. Which ultimately is helping me find my center. I may not know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know one thing...