In tiny village, ‘brilliant’ 7-year-old Kate is one of school’s 40 students
HARDING COUNTY — She lives in the least populated place in New Mexico – fewer than 700 people spread across 2,100 square miles in Harding County in the northeast quadrant of the state.
Her house – the same one where her mother grew up – is a block from her school, where she and 40 other children make up the entire student body from kindergarten through 12th grade.
She loves the Future Farmers of America and can talk at length about her passion for the organization. She hopes one day, when she’s older than 7, she can raise chickens.
For reasons only she knows – and she’s not telling – she likes to speak in a British accent. Last Halloween, she dressed as the queen of England.
Who is Kate Green?
If you ask her to describe herself in two words, those words will be “weird” and “weird.”
Weird is a popular concept with Kate, almost as dear to her as her Barbie dolls, her shelves of books and the time she spends working alongside her dad, Jake, in his woodworking shop in the family’s garage.
“Brilliant little kid,” says Tommy Turner, superintendent of the Mosquero Municipal School District, who pastures his horses on a plot of land that abuts Kate’s backyard and works with her mother, Margaret, the school secretary. “She’s so analytical. Those wheels are always turning.”
Kate’s is a middle-America life where mom, dad and daughter walk across the street to church every Sunday morning and gather each evening for dinner and talk.
And Kate can talk: “I help my dad work all the time. We work on the fence. He bosses me around. I work in Daddy’s workshop a lot. In the winter it’s always warm in there and I like the way it smells.”
Mosquero is perched all alone on the flat, grassy northeastern plains. Its population in the 2000 U.S. Census was 120. Ten years later, it dropped to 93. Children here are similarly spread out; Kate’s best friend lives a mile away down a dirt road.
Kate spends a lot of time with adults, and a lot of time in her room – reading, writing stories and playing with her toys. She’s content with her parents and grandparents, her vegetable garden, her bike and her replica John Deere tractor.
The best part about living in Mosquero?
“It’s a small town," she says. “And I also like that bad guys rarely come here because there’s not like a jewelry store or a gold shop."
Margaret, who grew up in Mosquero, and Jake, whose father is a cowboy on the nearby Bell Ranch, waited five years after marrying to have a child.
“Very planned,” Jake says. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect it to be this easy or this fun.”
When Kate was born, she almost immediately signaled she would be unique.
“She was very alert, very observant,” Margaret says.
When she started talking, her personality started to bubble out.
“I don’t think she has ever had a bad day,” says Marcie Pergeson, the teacher in the combined second- and third-grade classroom at Mosquero School. “She’s very blunt. She’s very opinionated. And, oh my goodness, she has the best sense of humor.”
Margaret, who went away to West Texas for college and loves books, started reading to Kate almost as soon as she was born. The first book she read aloud was “Pride and Prejudice,” begun when Kate was just 3 days old. Seven years later, Margaret has found an unexpected pleasure in motherhood.
“I love that I can carry on a conversation with my child,” she says. “Just talk with her. It’s fun.”
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