I'm the baby. No, let me type that a different way. I'm The Baby. That's what my Daddy calls me. That, or Teacher Girl, but The Baby came first. I had to get that out there because now I have a story to tell. It might take a while, so bear with me.

Last night I went with some friends of mine to a livestock auction. We. Had. A. Blast. No kidding. But there was one thing that struck me while we were there. It had hardly anything to do with the auction... it had to do with memories and a little boy. 

I noticed a little boy in the row of metal folding chairs across from us. He was with his mama. And you could tell that while his mama was there for other animals, he was there for a bunny. I didn't realize this until the twentieth crate full of bunnies was plopped down on the auction block. The look on that little boy's face as he looked at his mama and then at those bunnies was absolutely priceless. There was no look of selfishness in it. There was nothing bratty about that kid. There was only expectation, excitement, and a confidence that he would walk away with a bunny thanks to his mama. Then, in an instant I was jolted back to my own experience with my parents, an auction, and a sheep. 

When I was a kid my parents let me take dance. It wasn't that I got bored with it, it's just that I was ready to move on to something else... and that something else was 4-H and sheep. My parents didn't have a lot of money, but that didn't stop them from encouraging my siblings and me to follow our dreams. 

I remember going to sheep auctions, anticipating the moment when my Daddy would finally bid on one, and getting that first sheep. I loved that thing. It was a huge responsibility and I knew that I better take care of it or I would let my Mama and my Daddy down. Especially my Daddy. He always told us, "We do not strive for mediocrity." And it didn't matter what we did, if we said we were going to do it, then we better do it to the very best of our ability or else. 

I don't know what exactly possessed me to want a sheep and show it in 4-H competitions. I believe it was mostly that I wanted to be like my Daddy. You see, my Daddy was a farmer. A real farmer. And while my family comes from 300 years of farming, the fact that my Daddy was a farmer makes me beam with pride. I was just a baby when my Daddy had to give up his farm. While the rest of my family has memories of living there, I've always just sat and listened to their stories with a tinge of envy. It sounded like the greatest place on earth. And I know my Daddy loved it. 

As a kid I helped my Daddy with all sorts of chores. Whether he was working on the house, chopping wood, or putting in a garden, I was there. I was his right hand 'man.' And I loved every minute of it. It made me feel like a true country girl, the farmer's daughter, you name it. "One day, you'll have a man to tell you're too pretty to do this kind of work," he would say. I would just laugh, because deep down, I never wanted to be too pretty to do that kind of work. I wanted to show my Daddy I could do it and I could be like him and make him proud of me. My most favorite memory of working with my Daddy came when we were stacking firewood. The logs would hit the black, wet dirt and land with a thud. "Oh, Daddy, I love that smell!" "What's that baby?" "That dirt. It smells so good." "Oh, baby, me, too. You make me want to cry." I fell in love with my Daddy, the Farmer, that day. And it made me bound and determined to have what he had, if only a small fraction of it. I knew I would grow up and have a little homestead. Not a farm. My Daddy had a farm... and little house on six acres is not a farm. 

So, as I sat there with all that yelling and barn noise around me all I could do was watch that little boy and smile with tears in my eyes thinking of my Daddy, his love for me, and that I am the most blessed girl in the world to be his daughter. He has taught me so much about life, about living and loving, and that hard work is the best work. I love you, Daddy, so very much.