Cashmere goats at Mountain Hollow Farm in Tazewell, Tennessee. Lots more photos from the farm at the bottom of the page.
I remember when I graduated from college in January of 1974. I found a little job in the catering department at the University and stayed in Charlottesville until June, when the rest of my friends would be graduating and leaving town.
I moved into an apartment with three other women. I didn't have enough money to buy furniture, so in my bedroom, I lived on the floor. Literally. I slept on the floor without a mattress, in a sleeping bag; I sat on the floor; I propped a mirror against the wall and crouched to peer at my own reflected face from the vantage of the floor.
When I was a young woman of 21, newly graduated from college, I was afraid. I had no particular calling, no particular boyfriend, and no particular plans. I was at a loss and scared that my future was over before it had even started.
I could not imagine how lucky I would be at age 62: in good health, still in love and loved by a wonderful husband, with two adult sons who are my pride and joy, a faithful old dog, and my own private studio in the woods where I can pursue the calling I finally found in my fifties.
When I turned 62 a couple of weeks ago, my husband kept asking me what I wanted for my birthday. I didn't want any THING. I wanted a new experience and he, as he usually does, delivered.
My new experience was to visit a working cashmere goat farm and comb the goats. Conveniently, my birthday fell on a Saturday when spring goat combing was scheduled at Mountain Hollow Farm in Tazewell, Tennessee.
Up close and personal with the goats was a messy, smelly wonder! They are SO beautiful, surprisingly docile, and completely motivated by food. I did have one unexpected encounter with a sharp horn, but was not really hurt. It was fun! There were several other animals on the farm that trotted over to the fence curiously when my husband and I were there: a pony, horse, lambs, dogs, one duck, several chickens, and a llama, all apparently living in harmony.
Tazewell is about 60 miles from Oak Ridge, up close to the Kentucky border. I'd never been up there, so aside from goat combing, it was a new little road trip with unfamiliar sights and places to visit: a fabulous small cafe (where I had warm strawberry chess cake, right out of the oven with a cup of scalding, strong black coffee…so scrumptious!) a country flea market on the side of the road and an unfamiliar Good Will where I scarfed up a vintage leaping lamb planter for a cool 99 cents!
Finally, to top off the day, Bob and I drove back home via Knoxville where we took in a performance of The Indigo Girls with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Their concert was exhilarating, uplifting and inspiring! They are likable, charming performers and, of course, great singers, musicians and songwriters. Hearing them in concert with a full sized symphony orchestra was mesmerizing, a real high.
When we got home and pulled in our drive way late Saturday night, I said, 'Oh good, both the boys are home!" Walker was awake and we talked a while. Joe was asleep, but had left a card and potted white orchid on the dining table for me.
As I finally went to bed, I lay next to my kind, sleeping husband and listened to my blind old dog as she snored through her long black snout and I thought to myself, 'My life is so good and I have so much to be thankful for. How did I get so lucky?"
I don't know, but I am so blessed, so happy, and so much luckier than I ever deserved or thought I would be. And although I'm not in what others would call my 'prime years' now, I know that I actually am. Yes, youth had its compensations: a strong back, glowing skin and hair, sex appeal, fearless naiveté, and the luxury of enough time to make lots of mistakes. But, I would not go back and repeat my anxious twenties for anything, not for all the money in the world.
I've never hidden my age and have never understood why some people (especially women) do. Yesterday, I had lunch with a group of friends from the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville. Our ages run from 60 to 87. We were talking about age and someone said that there are women who don't even want their ages published in their obituaries.
What kind of crazy is that?????
I freely tell my age and look for every senior discount or advantage I can find. So far, I'm happy to report that I far prefer the advantages of advancing age over those of youth.
Here are links to Mountain Hollow Farm, The Indigo Girls and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra websites as well as a few photos I snapped at the goat farm. Mountain Hollow Farm The Indigo Girls The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.
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Be Well and Good Luck, Martha Maria
The farm house in the background and the first goat who came curiously out to greet us.
Looking for food. The proprietor had given my husband a shaker of food to lure the goats over. it worked!
This handsome, gentle fellow was looking for some food and affection. The goats don't seem to look for any affection, just food. The proprietor told me that the goats are not smart or affectionate. They are solely motivated, according to her, by food or coercion.
Bob walks down the road.
What a beautiful face!
Bob and his new friends by the fence.
Looking down the county road where Mountain Hollow Farm is located.