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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Art of Miscommunication

Kristy Rammel
Hobby Farms Guest Blogger

Has miscommunication ever been a problem on your farm? Photo courtesy Digital Vision/Thinkstock (HobbyFarms.com)
Courtesy Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Miscommunication. We’ve all experienced it in nearly every aspect of our lives. Sometimes this failure to communicate is a result of our own ramblings and impalpable thoughts—we know what we’re trying to say, the words are just evading us. Of course, sometimes we can spell it out, draw it, map it, ad graphs and diagrams, or have it acted out in a puppet show, and your audience will still look at you as if you were speaking a different language. Here are some stories of miscommunication I’ve experienced on my homestead—maybe you can relate.

Two Sides of the Same Coin
Years ago, I had two friends that were complete polar opposites. One was a mother and wife; the other had never been married and did not ever wish to be. One day, while sitting around reading the paper and enjoying a piping hot cup of java, the "untethered” woman came across an ad she thought we moms would like. It was a woman in bathtub full of bubbles with her face barely showing. Her nice looking husband was kneeling next to the tub holding their small toddler, while their 3-year-old girl appeared to be scooping the bubbles and blowing them at the baby. Everyone appeared happy and oh so very jolly. 

My dear naïve friend proudly flipped the paper around and declared: "Isn’t this so sweet? Mom’s getting a bubble bath for Mother’s Day!” To which my snappy, "conditioned” friend replied: "Heck no! She can’t even get five minutes to herself to take a bath? I bet that baby has a dirty diaper and the husband is trying to convince her to get out and change it!”

Seeing Vs. Knowing
As homesteaders, we experience all kinds of "see” versus "know” scenarios. We know how baby animals are born, and we will patiently wait for a pending birth, ready to assist if needed. But as wonderful as the arrival is, there is still a brief "gross” moment as the baby colt makes its entrance into the world. We know what’s coming, we just don’t always want to see it.

Likewise, as we grab heaping shovels full of fresh compost, we know there is rabbit poo in it—we’re probably were the ones that put it in there. But there’s still that brief gag moment when your hands are down in the dirt and you come across a few surprises that never quite broke down.

Miscommunication or Misrepresentation?
Many members of the homesteading community sell something from their farm, whether it’s eggs, veggies or livestock, trying to offset the price of running a small farm by offering a product of our hard work. But it can be a tricky business. We have to be cautious when using popular words like "organic” or "free range” because those labels can be interpreted wrongly by your customers.

Last year, I was looking into adding an English Orpington line to my chicken family. I attended many area chicken swaps and exchanges looking for information, as well as good stock. I came across a young beautiful breeding pair and proceeded to talk to the seller for several minutes about their lineage, size, fertility, et cetera. Suddenly, a very excited woman came up next to me and asked if the chickens were bantams, to which the seller replied yes. Confused, I asked him if they were actually English Bantams, to which he replied yes. When I asked why he didn’t mention "bantams” before now. He stated, "Because you didn’t ask!”

Literally Speaking
With all the ways we fail to communicate effectively, you still have to love the literal thinkers! Being one myself, I can only imagine the frustration, and occasional humor, my poor husband has endured the past 20 years. I didn’t realize how challenging it could be until my own little mini-me’s came into the world. Of all my offspring, Jacob, No. 3, is by far my most literal child. Here are just a few of the actual conversations we’ve had:

Me: "Wow! I’m going to be folding laundry until the cows come home!”

Jacob: "Yeah, but are the cows coming home <em>today</em>?”

Or my personal favorite:

Me: "Jacob, do you know when you’re birthday is?”

Jacob: "July 22!”

Me: "Yes, but of what year?”

Jacob: "Every year! DUH!”

Moral of the Stories
Try to remember that miscommunication is usually just a matter of interpretation.  If you find yourself frustrated, try to see a scenario from both sides, ask a few more questions if necessary, and be patient with those that require a little clarification sometimes. But above all else, remember there’s knowing and then there’s knowing! Even we—the growers of food, the cullers, the animal midwives, the professional pooper scoopers—have a few "gag a maggot” moments. It’s understandable some of our non-farming friends might have them, as well; like the few urbanite friends of ours that are genuinely disgusted by the fact we "eat eggs that came from a chicken’s butt!”

Kristy Rammel at Kids on the Homestead—Uncensored
About Kristy Rammel
A self-admitted former city girl, Kristy Rammel was "promoted" from AVP of Operations in a Fortune 200 company to VP of Homestead Operations and team leader of her family's Animal and Child Disaster Response Unit. While many people work desperately to avoid the monotony of daily life, she prays for it. Come back each week to follow her wild, crazy, but never boring homesteading adventures with four boys.

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The Art of Miscommunication

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Reader Comments
Very true..... and somewhat funny! Thanks for the posting.
Debi, Danielsville, GA
Posted: 2/4/2014 9:42:15 AM
If you can't leave a note stating where you are going, then don't expect me to look for ya.
Christy, Mt. Hermon, LA
Posted: 2/4/2014 9:32:34 AM
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