The Katmah Experience

living and learning one day at a time.


What keeps us down to earth? Literally speaking, it’s gravity, the force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth, or toward any other physical body having mass. This force is increased by acceleration. Figuratively, however, sometimes it feels like we’re spinning so fast that we might just fall off the earth and float away (especially if we gain weight, right Leah?). The faster our lives go, the more we lose track of where we are, and what we want to do. Sometimes all it takes is a good friend to bring you right back down to earth.

This summer I worked at a research farm in the FHB (Fusarium Head Blight) Program for the second year. The job itself is incredibly boring, and involved a lot of setting up and taking down irrigation systems, seeding wheat, taking data on the wheat (standing in the field with a clipboard for hours upon hours), spraying the wheat with Fusarium, taking more notes, and then rating the diseased wheat on a severity and incidence of fusarium infection, putting all that data into the computers, and eventually harvesting some of the wheat. This is a very general outline of the job. In between all these things there are other things of course. What makes this job tolerable is the people you work with, running over spray paint cans with the van (Bertha), and spending hours every morning before the boss man arrived sitting in the van (sorry Roger, we did do some rating…sort of), truck, whatever we were driving that day talking about everything and anything. The summer of 2011 was a lot of work, but I became close with some amazing people because of it.

Between a never ending game of truth or dare (it literally went on for about 2 and half months), eat-out pay-day fridays, slurpee runs, overtime, and endless computer entry- I made connections with friends I already had, but never really knew before. This was the second year I worked with Jolene, but the first year I really connected with her. All those days in May sitting in that little plant analysis room counting seeds and organizing plots made us a little crazy, but a lot closer. We talked about our adventures (“nice jeans”), and dreamt about our futures. She put up with me complaining about my body basically every single day, and I helped her with her pre wedding jitters and worries about the future. We made up crazy schemes to get the attention of the hot organics crew guy, and ended up starting an on going hang man game. By the end of the summer I couldn’t imagine my life with out her, and it seemed so weird that we hadn’t gotten to know each other sooner. After all, we did work together the year before. By August, one of our crazy ideas really came to life. We dreamt up the idea of a youtube baking show, called “Blondie and Ginger”- featuring us taking recipes we found off the internet and filming the baking process. We also came up with merchandise ideas, and Jolene even drew a amazing logo for us! We decided that this idea must come true, and wouldn’t become one of the great ideas people come up with, but never follow through with. So, a youtube channel was created and we began making videos. Although there are only two up- I’m sure once I return to Canada there will be many more to come. I’m sure all 4 of our fans are waiting anxiously! We also owe Leah an ice cream cake.

Later in the summer, a Facebook status courtesy of me changed the life of Leah Unrau forever. Leah and I played vball together in high school, and knew each other through other school events. But the magic of the wheat fields, or maybe the spray paint fumes- or sun stroke- made her one of my closest friends. All those mornings sitting.. I mean working of course.. talking (while looking over our shoulders for Roger’s van and occasionally chasing random donkeys), showed us how much we have in common- and that we are dealing, or have dealt with many of the same issues in sport and in life. As the summer wore on, it became clear that our lives were intersecting that the right time. Both of us were, and are dealing with injuries holding us back from our sports- and all that comes with that. You’re my person, Leah. The person I tell everything to- after a great day, or an awful day. And I’ll never forget the support she’s given me over the past few months. I loved when she came to the Fall Harvest show, got up at 5:30 am with me to do my hair and make up for my portraits with dad, and cheered me on all day at the show- no question why that was my best show all season, or ever. We talk everyday and I’m so glad for that. Because even when I feel so far away from everything, she brings me back down to earth and logic. Whether she knows it or not.

Something Leah said on our last skype date inspired the thought in the first paragraph. After a long, entertaining discussion of how gravity works- Leah expressed her fear of me falling off the earth one of these days, especially if I gain weight- don’t worry, it does actually have some logic in it- if you watch her demonstrate the situation with her hands. I can’t explain it as well as her, so I won’t try. After laughing at the literal situation Leah was presenting, I began thinking of the figurative side. I’ve been having a rough week or so- fighting with myself over what to do, how to do it, and when. I finally came to my decision- with the never ending support of Leah- who’s been listening to me bitch about things for awhile. My inner battle had to do with my current job at LC Horse Farm, and if it was right to stay here or leave.. asap. About a month ago I had the same war with myself, and I chose to stay until Christmas for sure. And for a while, things started getting better with the whole situation. But then they started declining again. My body never stopped hating it, but that’s nothing new. This time around, I have made the decision to leave. Even though this decision has been made in my head for a long time now, it’s unbelievably hard for me to admit to not liking it here this much. There are numerous factors that go along with this decision, but I’m choosing not to list all of them as I feel it would be unprofessional- however, if you want to know more about what brought me to this point please feel free to email me and ask and I’ll do my best to explain. A few of the reasons are:

A) I don’t want my body to get any worse then it already is.

B) I feel that it would be good for me to get away from the horse industry for awhile- even though I am very glad for the experience I’ve had so far, and all it’s taught me (after all, how many people can say they’ve worked in a top show jumping stable with an up and coming rider on the other side of the planet?), I just need a break.

C) I’m in New Zealand. 10,000 miles away from home. But, currently, I’m working 12 hour days, 6 days a week, feeling trapped and seeing very little of the beautiful island I’m on, not making enough  money to do much either. That’s not how I want to spend the remaining 6 months I have.

D) I’m lucky enough to have family connections scattered throughout the country- why not take advantage of that opportunity?

I have absolutely no regrets from this experience, even though it was completely different from what I wanted, or expected it to be. It’s taught me a lot, not only about the business- the people in it, but about myself- and how to stick up for myself. And how important that is. The reason it was so hard for me to admit to myself how much this isn’t right for me was that I was/ still am scared of quitting. I didn’t want people to view me as not strong enough to handle this type of work. Or see me as a quitter, which I have never been. The truth is though, from day one this hasn’t been a great situation. Again, I won’t expand on that on here. It’s definitely made me a tougher person, and put me through some tests. The truth is, I’ve handled everything LC has thrown at me- with relative poise- but there’s no reason I shouldn’t have. The real challenges I’ve faced don’t really have anything to do with horses, or the hectic days at shows, or dealing with horse people- that stuff I’ve been handling for a long time and working here is really not much different from what I do at home, except on a much larger scale of course. The things I’ve found most challenging, so far, have been focusing on what’s best for me- not what other’s will think of my decision, and working up the courage to make that decision happen and not just going along with things until I really can’t take it anymore. Does that make sense? Through this ginormous thought process, with the help of Leah and Mom’s support- I’ve decided that I’m not quitting, or running away from this. I’m doing the smart thing and the right thing for me. And that’s what is most important.

My new adventure starts on Wednesday. When I move up north to Whangerei to live with family. Lets hope this one works out a little better! Oh, and PS Leah- I could still kick your ass in a fight.

5 responses to “Gravity”

  1. Really well written!! Who was the hot organics guy?!

  2. YES IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE!! Way to go Kathlyn, you are one smart girl!! ENJOY the rest of your time there, whatever it is you are doing. LOVE Auntie Jane & Uncle Lyle

  3. Thanks for making me cry, love you to death and miss you like crazy!

    1. First of all.. I do recall you asking me to write a post involving your Gravity theory and you. So, you’re welcome.

      Second of all, love you too and miss you more!

  4. You’re one brave gal – I know I’m the kind of person who would prefer to quietly do what’s expected of me rather than stand up for my own ideas and dreams. It definitely takes guts.

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