My little boy has said this to me on several occasions in the last few weeks; sun beating down, crickets jumping in the grass we tread on. Usually it is when we are walking down to the barns to tend the sheep, or when we are on our way back to the house from a little jaunt, feed buckets in hand. I must admit, I’ve been a bit surprised to hear it from him. I think to myself, wait, how can it be, that he already thinks farm life is hard? I haven’t even asked him to pitch in on all of the chores I had in mind for him!?!
First, I should back up…part of the reason we moved on to the farm, well at least the inciting incident, was our son’s need for something different. School was not working out – even Waldorf School, which you think would be more forgiving, and yes, it is, but we were looking at a kid that clearly said, NO, this is NOT what I need. Teachers, friends, family alike agreed with our gut instinct — he needs a calmer environment, more down time, more nature, and he needs every opportunity to do meaningful, hard work. We took it as a strong sign from God that our yearning for farm life and our finding of a farming partner in beautiful Virginia (which we had admired each and every time we drove through) aligned. It also coincided perfectly with our need to find something different for our son. We’d had countless meetings with one of the most respected learning specialists in the country and she was adamant, “Oh yes, get him working on the farm, the physical labor will feed his yearning for movement and satisfy his sensory seeking tendencies!” It was like Occupational Therapy for free. I could hardly wait to get a bucket in the kid’s hand!
Fast forward now to our being on the farm and slowly working into the lifestyle we’d been looking forward to – for all of us, and for him, and we were in for a surprise. I don’t know why I did not anticipate a sort of learning curve with the childrens’ love of farming chores, but I was hook, line and sinker expecting all smiles and dirty fingernails! Well, that isn’t exactly what I’ve found. Yes, the children are happy to be on the farm – they love the aura and they take pride in being “farmers” even before we’ve earned the title. Things as simple as reading the promo materials on the carton of milk and exclaiming that “we are at the heart of the milk we drink – look it says so right on the container! They love farmers! And we’re farmers!” Thanks, Horizon, I totally love that. And we don’t even have a dairy cow. The kids are learning about animals and slowly picking up the farmer lingo (for example, the kittens, the other day, were so excited to get their “feed”). But there are some shockers – Mira does not seem to adore the donkey, nor does Mason. The kids do not run out to see if there is a lamb every morning like I want to. Both of them proclaim their favorite farm animals to be…….the kittens.
As time passes and being a farmer becomes more like life and less like some kind of dream, I am sure these realities will shift. What comes next will be a completely new paradigm. Mason may not find the walk to the barn and back with buckets in tow so tiring. He will eventually rise beyond that and begin to connect with the farm in a whole new way. Mira may develop a fondness for Oscar the donkey (I think she resents his not being a pony). My suspicion is that with the soon to be arrival of the dairy goats – (the Nigerian Dwarf Goats aka, cutest animals in the world), the farm will take on a whole new life for all of us!.
For now, however, the individuals receiving the “therapy” are the ones that didn’t fully realize they were signing up for it – mainly my husband and me! I’m finding myself entirely captivated by the animals, each having their own particular behaviors and attitudes; it is colorful and hilarious and I get to be a part of it every day. On the part of my husband, he has told me he appreciates the quiet, slow sunrises that greet us each morning and the general feeling of serenity that envelopes you in this valley of ours. Also, I suspect on a whole other level, he is having a lot of fun playing with so many wonderful toys — between the ATV (yes, we are stuck with the yucky one), the chainsaw, the riding mower and the new, improved ‘farm style’ weed whacker, he is in full on gadget-geek mode most of the time. Also, he’s becoming a pro at fixing fences (something I realize now is exactly what the Eagles in “Desperado” were talking about when they sang of being, “out riding fences”). We have more to do than physically possible for two persons…thus, it is now our job now to figure out how to build a community around us to help the farm reach its fullest potential.
My mom would probably quote that corny Kevin Kostner movie now, “Build it, and they will come!” Well, mama, here we go!