Family Fun // From the Archives

Recently we were given the board game “Monopoly”. We have never been much into board games: who is when you can play in the dirt, ride bikes or play “Crash” on the tree swings with your siblings? (don’t ask, suffice it to say Mom says if you get a busted knee or lip playing a game with a name like “Crash” don’t come crying for sympathy)
Well, we kids decided to give Monopoly a try. After the first evening we were hooked! When we all tried to play at one time we had to split up into teams, which is fun in itself. You had to watch out for the sister who would always try to snap up Board Walk and Park Place and then plunk down a few houses to boot. And then there’s that sneaky sister who tries to make you “awesome deals” to “help you out” so you won’t have to mortgage your property when sister number one deals you a hefty $1000 rent on Boardwalk. And then there’s the hoarder brother and sister who never sell their property until in desperation you offer them ten times the amount it’s worth. Needless to say we’ve had a blast! We’ve never finished a game yet though. (who knew Monopoly was such a long game?) And sometimes the game is interrupted to go round up a calf or do the evening chores. Then we leave it precariously on the dining room table and come back to it afterwards. Good times.


Chore Swap // Winter 2013

Every once in a while Dad likes to shake things up a bit and switch around the chores and responsibilities for us kids. Believe me it’s usually a welcome change! I mean, who doesn’t get tired of the same old same old 24/7? It gets to where I can milk cows in my sleep. When you’ve milked cows in exactly the same way (or done anything for that matter) for about 4 hours a day, summer, winter, spring time and harvest it can start to get on your nerves. We kids start joking that we’re going to go on a strike or turn in our notice papers!

On a side note though, having a family business has really taught me a valuable lesson in having a corporate spirit. When I was younger I used to entertain the thought that, “Man, Mom and Dad are getting a lot of free labor out of me” But as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to see that it’s not that way at all. We are all breadwinners. All of us are pulling the load together to bring in income and grow our own food. Not only is it a good reality check for me, but it’s a good morale booster. “I help to provide for my family.” It’s a great feeling. We all work together so we can all eat, buy clothes, and all of the rest.

So, last week instead of milking I was on meals, laundry and housecleaning. It’s not so simple to prepare food for 11 hungry people! Some of those days it felt like all I did was cook and wash dishes all day long. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes I think our culture is tempted to look down on such jobs as menial labor. But washing dishes and cooking meals is nothing to look down on! These two seemingly humble tasks are two of the central cornerstones of our society. Everyone’s gotta eat and the dishes have got to be cleaned. It’s good honest work to do with your hands. I had a good helper too. Gabriel, (7) who doesn’t yet have a steady job on the farm was my handsome and (mostly) willing assistant. By the end of the week he got pretty good at unloading the dish washer, cleaning the bathroom and sweeping. These are great jobs for him to do. It builds confidence in a child to have something useful to do with their hands. I think the rest of the kids were pretty happy with their new jobs too.

Farmer’s Daughter Notes // Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

We were in the middle of dinner when we remembered that the pigs still had to be moved. It was about 6pm. Dad and oldest Son had headed off to Georgia on a father-son adventure that morning and so we women folk were holding down the fort. Of course we had a list to help us remember all the things that Dad and oldest Son do, (They sure do a lot!) and then we remembered that one last thing we had forgotten; moving the pigs. So off we trooped to complete the task. Middle Sister had spent an hour or more creating the new paddock and now all that was left was to shoo them in, right? Wrong. Their shelter still needed to be pulled into the new pen, that was easy enough, the only problem was that it had been there for a while and after rain and piggy mud puddles on hot days, the shelter had turned into something of a castle surrounded by a moat. Hills of nice, packed dirt rose up steeply on the insides of the shelter creating a stubbornly rooted abode. Using the tractor we appropriated the front loader to lift the shelter over the hills. Now the shelter was pretty heavy and caused the back tires of the tractor to lift slightly (With second Sister still in the seat) sending Mom and oldest Daughter into a slight panic. Second Daughter assured them that she had the situation well in hand. After pushing at the front end of the shelter she made her way around the moat to the other side and pushed at that end. The back end was really stuck and didn’t appear to want to give at all.

“We’ll just have to expand their current pen and give them some more pasture” Someone said.

“But Dad said he didn’t want them tearing up that part of the pasture.” Middle Sister said, gesturing to the new paddock she had set up on the other side, “I set up the new paddock where he wanted it.”

“Well, he’s not here to give us advice on the shelter,” Someone shot back. (He was also out of cell range)

Middle sister, who had worked so hard on the paddock that afternoon, among her other chores, began to get teary.

“Its ok!” I comforted, stretching out my hand towards her.

“No its not!” She said, rubbing at her eyes with a short, jerking motion. (We had now been working on this project for about an hour.)

Second Sister saw the tears from her perch on the tractor and the Stone-Wall Wilson gene kicked in. A determined gleam shone in her eye as she pushed the tractor into gear and gave orders for little brother to run up and grab her boots. (Did I forget to mention that the majority of us were wearing flip-flops. Yep. Just call us the flip flop farmers)

Up crept the tractor tires again as she used the front loader to lift the back of the shelter over the hump. After much lifting and pushing and shoving the shelter was successfully dislodged from the hill and over the moat. We cheered. surely the next part, moving the pigs, wouldn’t be so bad. About that time, brother came running back with the boots and the pig round-up began. The herding them up wasn’t so bad, we got them up to the edge of their old paddock just fine and then they came to a dead stop. They refused to cross the line. Now, if you’ve ever been out to our farm and walked back to see the pigs, you’ve probably noticed that all it takes is a little old bitty wire to keep them in. When moved to a new paddock, it only takes about one or two times for them to find the fence, realize, “ouch, this thing bites!” and then they are (pretty much) forever trained to never cross the line. Well, here we are trying to move them, we’ve removed the wire at that corner but they won’t cross the invisible line. We coaxed and pleaded. We ran up to the house and found some succulent watermelon rinds, but to no avail. They settled themselves right down in the corner and started digging around in the dirt, just inches away from their new paddock. We started to press them a little, urging them to cross the line, then the pigs started getting nervous and then, oops! One broke through the ranks and dashed back to the far corner of the old paddock, followed by the rest of the herd. We repeated this process about three more times. Time is ticking, the sun has disappeared behind the trees and the mosquitoes are starting to get bad.

To be continued…