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You all know that I’m a farm girl. I haven’t actually lived on that farm for most of my adult life. I frequently went back home to spend some time with my parents, and twice I actually stayed, with my babies, and lived with them for a few months to help out. My dad was ill, and I was the only sister without an outside job (as opposed to staying home, raising the kids.) So, I did a fair amount of milking, shoveling, feeding, etc. as a grown-up, too.
However, being a farm girl wasn’t the path to glamour and honor at my high school. Or perhaps the problem was just being a tall, geeky, uncoordinated, not-cool farm girl…For instance, I would never have even considered trying out for the cheerleader squad. Nor would I have ever presumed to be elected Prom Queen, or even one of the Princess Attendants. I knew the limits of my personal popularity.
But, one year, I realized that there was queen contest for which I was uniquely qualified! The Future Farmers of America sponsored an event each year. There was an assembly, a dance, and a contest as part of their status as one of the “big deal” clubs in our school. (No, seriously–they had a large membership, and officers, and went to state and national events every year. FFA was an organization with clout in our world.)
So, in my senior year, I decided to enter their queen contest. It wasn’t at all about your appearance, or charisma, or popularity. It was strictly won through points! I could do that! There was a series of events we participated in over the course of the week. One day, there was a cake contest–no sweat! I’d been cooking and baking since I was nine years old. Check! Got my points. Another day involved a tractor-driving obstacle course. And, you had to be able to do some of it in reverse. Again…been driving since I was younger than nine! We had a written test, too, as I recall, about the by-laws of the FFA or their charter, or something. But, if it involved reading, then I could easily master that, too.
I had a little trouble with the snowmobile driving race, because I’d only ever driven a snowmobile a couple of times. This is when I started to care too much, and sort of sold my soul to be the winner. There was a boy who had a big crush on me, but it was not mutual. At all. However…I totally used him to get some practice on a snowmobile, and I may have taken advantage of his position as one of the officers in our FFA to get any influence I could over whatever he could do for me. I still feel like a creep about it, even though high school ended 46 years ago.
But, I nailed the horse saddling event entirely on my own! I watched as two other girls started this timed contest. I noticed how the horse stood still for the saddle blanket, and then took a little side step when the saddle was being hefted his way, so that the first attempt at getting it on his back was thwarted. So, when it was my turn, I stepped along with that wily gelding, and so the saddle landed right where it was supposed to when he didn’t expect it! The horse almost stumbled, he was so surprised. I grabbed up the cinches, and pulled and buckled, and got him all ready in record time! It was my quick time with the saddling that put me over the top!
I had done it! I was finally the queen of something at my high school! My younger sister was the Junior Class attendant. We got crowns, and were honored at the assembly, and had another crowning event at the dance that night. As FFA queen of 1971, I felt honored to represent farmers and farming.
I pretty much knew that I had no desire to marry a farmer and continue the family legacy. Instead, I wanted to be free of the burden of that twice-daily cow milking, and the summers spent hauling thousands of hay bales to keep them fed through our long, long Rocky Mountain winters. Also, I really wanted to go explore the world that lay beyond those beautiful mountains surrounding our isolated valley. But, I was still proud of my heritage, and felt that it was only appropriate that a REAL farm girl was queen of the Future Farmers of America, at least that once.
(My sister is the blonde on my left.)