Raising kids and running a farm at the same time can feel a bit overwhelming at times. I often feel pulled in so many directions I forget to take the time to appreciate the beauty of both. But kids have a delightful way of bringing me back to the joy of it all.
Ella was 6 years old when we got our first pigs – a breeding pair of pot belly pigs. After the pigs had gotten over the shock of their relocation and begun to get comfortable with their new digs, they began to engage in certain, uh, boarish behavior. Ella and I walked by the pig pen to see the male mounted on the female. She was not in standing heat, so she kept trying to walk away from him while he waddled behind in an attempt to stay mounted. Ella laughed and said, “Look, mom, he’s riding her like a bicycle!”
The garden and the house are separated by a stand of pine trees. I can almost see the house through the trees while I’m in the garden and I can hear voices calling, though I can’t always discern whether the voice is a child or a goat. We hung a dinner bell on the back porch so the kids can ring it to get my attention and call me back home. They were instructed to use it only in emergencies. In non-emergencies they are *supposed* to walk back to the garden to get me. One day while working in the garden, I looked up from my work to see the goats wandering down the lane. I dropped my tools, grabbed a handful of greens and went to round-up the goats. They happily followed my handful of greens back to their pen near the house. As I approached the house, I saw Ella standing in the yard. I asked her if she saw how the goats got out. She responded, “I let them out. I thought it would get you back faster than me walking back to the garden.” It was so clever I could hardly fuss at her for letting the goats out!
This past summer Ella asked to have a space in the garden for growing cut flowers. We planned out the space together, planted together and then I let her be in charge of harvesting and selling the flowers. Several Saturdays over the summer she harvested, bunched and brought flowers to market to sell. She sold out every week. It was so fun for me to share those market mornings with her and to watch her take pride in the work of selling her flowers.
Jake has pretty much only known life on the farm, we moved here when he was 6 months old. Before going off to school full-time this year, he was home “helping” me on the farm most days. The first year he rode on my back in hiking pack while I did farm chores. Sometimes he would fall asleep and I could hear him quietly snoring behind my head. I put hooks on various fence posts around the farm so I could quietly slip off the pack and hang him on the hook freeing me to do tasks that were too dangerous or difficult to do with him on my back. Most days though, he was awake through the animal chores singing and talking to me as I worked. One day, as I was scooping grain into buckets for the pigs he spoke from his place on my back, “I can feel God you know?” “Oh yes,” I answered, “How do you feel God?” “When I’m touching your shoulders.” Melt my heart…
As Jake got older and heavier, he had to start walking with me to do chores. Mostly he ran around doing his own thing, but occasionally he would help me carry a bucket or insist on helping me unload feed sacks from the truck. Often his delight in the work or the simple joys of the farm remind me to be joyful in the midst of the farms many demands. One day while walking down on our long driveway to meet Ella off the bus, he reminisced about a previous day waiting for the bus. “Remember that day we walked down the driveway, and threw rocks and waited for Ella? That was a good day.” A good day indeed.