Monday, November 28, 2005

To all my faithful readers, I would like to show you the speech I have been working on. We have a round robin this Friday, but I am not presenting this at the event. However, I would like to improve this for future competitions. Any suggestions, comments, whatever are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Life In The Country by Allegra Tschappler
The farmer’s son was returning from the market with the crate of chickens his father had entrusted to him, when all of a sudden the box fell and broke open. Chickens scurried off in different directions, but the determined boy walked all over the neighborhood scooping up the wayward birds and returning them to the repaired crate. Hoping he had found them all, the boy reluctantly returned home, expecting the worst. “Pa, the chickens got loose,” the boy confessed sadly, “but I managed to find all twelve of them.” The country is the best place to live because of its serene beauty and unique opportunities to do exciting things you never would in the town. To really understand, you need to know more about the beauty of the country, the fun of having farm animals and wild animals, and the things you can do with a lot of land. The country is a beautiful place. Have you ever driven along a lonely dirt road and seen cattle grazing? It is truly a peaceful sight. Or you can sit on your front porch in the cool evening breeze and watch a truly spectacular sunset. No houses block your view, and you feel all alone, yet strangely sheltered. There is a delightful feeling of contentment when you reach the country. There is no hustle and bustle as you walk among the prairie grasses or the freshly-fallen snow. A sort of quiet easily steals your soul. But quiet isn’t the only feeling you have when you go out into the country. There is also a lot of excitement on Saturdays. The volunteer firemen get out their uniforms and polish up the trucks; the farmers go to the feed stores to get their weekly supply of grain and hay; people in the parking lots of the stores sell little kittens for ten dollars each. Some folks have old cars that they get out, shine up and drive around. Others start up their motorcycles and go careening through the streets. Some simply sit on their front porches and watch the excitement as their majestic American flag waves in the breeze. In addition to the country simply being beautiful, it provides opportunity to have animals. For example, whenever it rains heavily for several days, amphibians are close at hand. Last year, it was tadpoles in our water reserve tank. We weren’t using it, so the frogs came and laid eggs in it. We caught the tadpoles by climbing down in the tank with a ladder, and after we put them in jars, we sold several. The ones we didn’t sell, we raised for our own. Unfortunately, most of the frogs died after they had developed because we didn’t know how to take care of them. We’ve also had the chance to learn how to raise, feed and butcher rabbits. It was always hard butchering the soft, furry rabbits, but the stew they made was absolutely delicious. But if you think all we ever do is kill animals, think again. We’ve found lizards hiding under rocks. These long, snake-like fellows are a lot of fun to hold, but they prefer the rocks to our hands. Other times we’ve found fully-developed frogs. We would take them inside to show to Mommy, and then let them go again (mostly because of her encouragement—we really wanted to keep them as pets). The most common reptile around our place that we are able to catch is the horned lizard. This last year, we probably found about twenty or more baby ones. They are so tiny, you could probably hold five in your hand quite comfortably. We’ve also been able to raise a baby ground squirrel. Our cat cornered him outside one afternoon, and we caught him and put him in a terrarium. He was so fun to watch, especially when he burrowed. He had the most amazing tunnels, and you could see them through the glass. He would hide down there when our cat became interested in his container and wait for her to leave. They usually played hide and go seek for quite a while until our cat got frustrated and left. When he was old enough, we let him go back into the wild. Besides wild animals, we’ve had a quite a few farm animals such as goats, cows, chickens, rabbits and even guinea birds. Have you ever wondered how people could butcher chickens? It is a bloody and long process, and it’s sad to see a favorite animal die. Fortunately for us, we don’t typically become emotionally attached to any of our chickens, and the mean ones aren’t hard to kill Once we raised a batch of chickens (12 or so), with four rooster chicks. When they grew up, they competed for the hens attention and tried to show who was king of the pen. One, who had probably won every battle for dominance, was particularly mean. I think he lived just to make humans miserable. Whenever we would go out to throw scraps for them, he would try to peck us on our legs. We learned to carry a bucket of scraps and a big stick. Unfortunately, on a visit out there, Mom hadn’t learned the big stick rule of thumb, so she got pecked rather hard. A few days later, we wondered where the rooster had gone, but we really enjoyed the fried chicken on Sunday... Another time we had a bull named Joey. Now, Joey really liked attention. He would scratch himself on our water faucets, turning them on, and letting them run until we were out of water. When we were out of water one afternoon, I went out back to check and see if one of the faucets was on. It was, so I turned it off. Unfortunately, Joey wanted to play. He cornered me and tried to butt me. I got between his head and back to hide from him. He kept trying to get his head aimed at me, and I kept staying at his flank so that we were circling each other for a good ten minutes. Finally, I just took off and outran him. After that, I always went out with a stick...just like with the rooster. I’m not the only one who has had an interesting experience with our bull. One evening, when we kids were in bed, Mom was working on laundry, and Dad was repairing the fence. The door was open to let in the fresh summer evening country air, and Mom was in the laundry room. She heard some stomping noises and assumed it was Dad. Thinking he was mad, she headed into the dining room to appease him. As she came into the room, she saw a tail sticking out from under the table! Joey had decided to pay us a courtesy call! Mom was scared spitless, but Joey, realizing that she knew he existed, sauntered out of the house and went for a walk. Other tame animals, such as goats, have been quite a lot of fun. Our neighbors had two goats they wanted to sell, and I wanted to try milking, so I bought them. When we thought we were ready to handle a baby goat, we bred Peppermint, the female, with a buck in the next county. It was exciting waiting for the new little creature to arrive. One night, we went to a co-op talent show, and when we got home, we went straight to bed. The next morning, Dad told me to go outside and look at Peppermint. There she was, with a brand spanking-new little daughter, who we named Frieda. We started milking Peppermint, and I enjoyed getting to know how to do it. Unfortunately, we didn’t do the milk right, and it tasted sour every time we tried it. So we let Peppermint dry up, and haven’t tried it since. But it’s great to be able to do things like that. To be able to catch frogs from a pond or a hole, milk a goat, raise chickens and bulls and have the memories of such a wonderful life are all things that come from living in the country. Although it is difficult to mow a great deal of land and fix and paint fences, having a lot of land is a really cool thing. For one thing, you are able to have animals like goats, chickens and bulls. You can also walk around for P.E. You can enjoy the beauty of the mountains, snow, grass and trees while you exercise your legs and mind. Not only can you exercise, but if you save long enough, you can buy a dirtbike to ride through the open fields. That way you don’t have to pay a lot of money to go ride a racetrack, and you can practice jumps without everyone seeing you mess up. We have a dirtbike, so trust me, I know from experience what it’s like to mess up. One time, my little brother, Sam, was out puttering around on the dirtbike and went around a corner. Problem is, he didn’t make the corner, and ended up going through the barbed wire between our property and our neighbor’s land. Dad had to go ask our neighbor for our dirtbike back, and Sam has scars to this day as a reminder that those dirtbikes need to be driven with care. Mom had to learn that fact the hard way as well as Sam, but in a more extreme way. We had just gotten the dirtbike and were learning how to stay upright, how to go fast enough to put our feet up, and even how to do jumps after a week or so. Mom decided that it looked pretty cool, so while we were taking a break, she decided to take it for a spin. Boy, did she take it for a spin! She took our biggest jump, and landed on her shoulder, breaking her collar bone. The awesome thing is, even though she really hurt herself and felt rather foolish for being the first to REALLY hurt herself on the dirtbike, the little kids thought she was the most awesome mom anyone could have because she was so daring. We agree with them, but that’s for another speech. So you see, living in the country is beautiful, it gives you the chance to have animals, and you can even have dirtbike tracks around the back of the property. Remember that story at the beginning of this speech about the boy and the chickens? Let’s find out what the dad had to say about his son’s dropping the crate and then finding all twelve of them to return home: “Pa, the chickens go loose,” the boy confessed sadly, “but I managed to find all twelve of them.” “Well, you did real good, son,” the farmer beamed with much apparent pleasure. “You left with seven.” Now you can hopefully understand a little more the reason for my bias about living in the country. Not only is it extremely exciting, but it is also breathtakingly beautiful. You should come out to our house in Falcon, Colorado, and see for yourself.


Allegra said...

Give us some context at the beginning. Describe where your family lives and tell how you feel about it. Cute stories.
I think this speech could be really good if you focused on a thesis and used the stories to tie it together. It took me a while to decide where you were going and them it seemed a bit disjointed.-Kris Wilson, judge at Prairie F.R.O.G. Event

Allegra said...

Interesting, fun, lots of opportunity for variances in voice and actions. If you work on transitions and a clearer thesis statement, this will be a wonderful piece.-Robbie Blum, judge at Prairie F.R.O.G. Event

Kim Anderson said...

These comments were good, solid advice. Start with editing your introduction. The story is fun, but make it the springboard to a thesis.