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Monday, June 2, 2014

How I Cope With ADD on the Farm

Kristy Rammel
Hobby Farms Contributor

How I Cope with ADD on the Farm - Photo courtesy Kristy Rammel (HobbyFarms.com)
Courtesy Kristy Rammel

"Do you see this graph?” the doctor asked as he handed me a sheet of paper.

Sitting across the desk from him, I reached out and took the almost blank form he handed me. Not wanting to appear ignorant, I frantically searched for the "graph.” My name and the date were boldly displayed at the top of the paper, while the space below seemed to be a fill in the blank chart in which no one had bothered to "fill in” the data.

"Don’t worry!” he snickered, obviously sensing my increasing panic! "It’s not a trick question! Simply put, you fall below the average parameters we use to measure. You fall somewhere in the severe ADD section. I just can’t tell you where—we can’t chart it that low!”

My mind raced—OK, it always races, but this was NASCAR-style racing! I’m 35, I thought. ADD is something kids have, not grown women, right? Wrong! ADD affects kids, as well as men and women of all ages.

As an adult with ADD, I had developed many coping mechanisms throughout my lifetime. It was only when there was a breakdown in my repertoire that symptoms truly surfaced and impeded on my daily life. Any number of changes in lifestyle can cause this type of disintegration: moving, having a baby, quitting a job. I had all the above over the span of about 3 months.

The only way I can explain living with ADD is to compare it to YouTube. Have you ever noticed no matter what you started watching you are almost always 5 or less clicks away from a crazy cat video? Now speed that up 1,000 times and cram it into a 15-second time frame. Yep, my mind is always three to five thoughts away from something totally obscure, and I average dozens of thoughts a minute, or by comparison, four to five "crazy cat videos” every 60 seconds!

So, what does this have to do with homesteading? I’m glad you asked! An ADD mind can be like a tornado in a hay field—you’re never quite sure what direction it’s going, but chaos is sure to follow. However, it can also be enlightening and, at times, ingenious. With thousands of thoughts every few hours, there’s bound to be a few really good ideas squeezed in there sometime—the ones I can remember anyway!

ADD Challenges
Between the animals, the gardens, the kids, the housework and the hundreds of daily "to-dos” they all produce, everyone is going to have a few things they simply forgot to do. With me, however, is not as much what I forgot to do as what I forgot to finish—I’ll usually start most of what I set out to do that day!

Unfortunately this results in rakes left in the garden atop a pile of weeds; a washing machine lid left open, full of water and waiting for the rinse and spin cycles; or a basket of eggs sitting next to the water hose I had used to rinse my shoes. It seems every time I finally find my groove, something changes and I have to re-adapt! Baby animals being born, gardens starting to produce, crazy weather changes and kids getting out for summer vacation—all cohorts working together to break my rhythm!

ADD Perks
One word: hyperfocus! This is the ability to hone in on the tedious and monotonous chores on the farm. While there are definite downsides to focusing in on any one thing too intently, it can be quite a productive little perk!

For example, when we first started putting in walkways around the house, it had to be done by hand. So, armed with a rogue hoe and various other yard tools, we set out cutting through thick grassy weeds and layers of red dirt. While the men folk found the monotony of it all to be very boring, I quite enjoyed it. Whack. Whack. Whack. Pull. Rake. Shake. Whack. Whack. Whack.

Adding to the overall appeal of the walkway was the discovery of large grubs living in the thick roots of the weeds and grass. I quickly realized my chickens adored these "cream-filled” kind of grubs, as we now call them. With every whack, whack, whack, half a dozen heads would frantically search the ground for a glimpse of the slimy treats. As I would pull the carpet of weeds back, a chorus of happy clucks would erupt as the buffet opened. Shaking the grass would usually produce a few final treats before starting all over again. By the third day, I was met at the tool shed by my small flock of hunters eagerly waiting for me to start the day. This was the beginning of a beautiful relationship between me and my flock, as well as the creation of "The Chicken Walk,” the walkway around my backyard.

Yes, having an ADD brain can present many challenges on the farm and off. Distractions, time distortions, racing thoughts, impulsivity—the list goes on and on. But the beauty of having so many random thoughts is ability to come up with dozens of ways to cope and overcome these so called challenges.  And while hyperfocusing cannot be allowed to rule your entire life, this intense concentration can be a welcome break from the usual Indie 500 of random thoughts.

A simple computer search will present you with hundreds of ways to cope with various ADD symptoms. You may need use 10 or 510 on a daily basis. Just file the rest away in the recesses of your brain to add to your own arsenal of coping strategies. Remember, repetition can be your greatest ally, but when life trips up your groove, dance to a different song until you find your rhythm again. 

Now go look up "crazy cat” videos on YouTube. You know you want to!

Read more about life on Kristy's homestead:

 

« More Kids on the Homestead—Uncensored »

 

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How I Cope With ADD on the Farm

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Reader Comments
I've been trying to cope with ADD all my life and it's never been easy. My biggest issue is becoming overwhelmed. I HATE repetition and monotony, but people tell me I have to have a routine to combat the ADD. Doesn't quite work for me does it? Even so Homesteading takes a lot of work and tho I LOVE the work I do feel very overwhelmed. One thing at a time, but only after I've fed the kids, chickens, goats, rabbits, horses, cats, and dogs, made sure everyone has water, put in a load of laundry, cleaned up the mess the kids made on the table, and started lunch. I usually forget to eat the food too since I must be sure everyone else eats first. I hear a mama goat getting upset... better put a kid back in the pen. Escape artists.
Mj, Boise, ID
Posted: 6/10/2014 8:54:16 PM
I am 51 and add has ruined my life! Be thankful you live on a farm!
toban, International
Posted: 6/4/2014 1:07:40 AM
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