As any farm family knows, harvest is busy. Not the “let me check my schedule” kind of busy. It’s more like “the entire summer is only double-booked, I am sure we can squeeze a little something more into it.” So it goes. As my boys say, “from can see to can’t see.”
I hope that my kids are learning not only the value of hard work, but how rewarding tired muscles can be from an honest day’s labor. Agriculture isn’t the easiest of occupations, but there’s a grittiness to it — an earthiness that helps rejuvenate your soul. I recently got a letter in the mail from an old friend who said he felt that people in agriculture were the best people in creation. I have to agree. There’s no place I’d rather raise my family.
That being said, however, all work and no play, makes Jack sad, stressed and gray. It was with excitement that I climbed out of bed. We had plans to spend the entire weekend at the river. To say I was excited is like saying a starving honeybee suddenly thrust into a field of lush sunflowers would be mildly happy.
I scurried around the house trying to get everything ready for our weekend of fun. I began carefully packing food into bags.
“Mommy, what doing?” my 2-year-old asked.
“Packing food for us to eat,” I answered.
“Because we’ll be hungry.”
“Not hungry now. Why hungry later?”
“Because we’ll be playing so hard, we’ll work up an appetite.”
“Why appetite?” The questions came hard and fast, and my patience disappeared with nearly the same speed. Soon I forgot careful packing and instead started throwing food into bags — I just wanted to be on the road.
With the food packed, I started on our clothes: swim wear, towels, pajamas, etc. Hardly had I opened the dresser when I heard my 9-year-old hollering, “Mom! Ma—uuuuuum! The goats are out!”
Just then, I heard a trampling of little hooves on the deck. I dropped the clothes back on the bed and turned to head outside.
“Why goat out, Mommy?”
“I don’t know, Bug, but Mommy has to help your brother get them back in.”
“Because if we leave them out, they will jump on top of Daddy’s car, and that makes Daddy really mad.”
“Me wanna come too,” he said grabbing hold of my leg.
“No, sweetie, Mommy will be right back.”
“Nooooooo. Me go with you,” he wailed.
“Mom, they are eating my mimosa plants!” my 9-year old cried out — punctuated with a loud crash from the deck. I rubbed my temples. I just wanted to be at the river. The bedroom door burst open, “I chased them away, but not before they knocked the table over.”
“Here, little one, watch your brother for a minute, and I’ll put the goats in.”
The littlest goat was already standing proudly on the T-top of my husband’s Trans Am when I walked outside. I lifted her over the fence and ran the other ones around through the gate. I fed the sheep and, walking back to the house, saw both my boys laying on their tummies in the yard, each with a pair of scissors clipping the grass. I smiled at them as I walked past, but they were both so engrossed in the task they barely noticed. They stayed occupied cutting grass while my husband and I finished packing our weekend supplies, and then we were off.
Two days filled with sun, sand, surfing, water skiing, books and fun. My oldest learned how to double-ski, and my littlest learned how to wake-surf with me. It was just the weekend we needed to rejuvenate from the stress of harvest. Watching my kids build sand castles, I reminded myself never to get so busy making a living that I forget to make a life.
That night, as we tucked the kids into bed, we asked them what their favorite part of the weekend was. Without a second’s hesitation, my 2-year old responded, “Cutting grass!”
I gave him an extra big hug. I had long forgotten about that. I always say, “Take the vacation. You can always make more money, but you can’t always make more memories.” I had gotten so caught up in trying to give my family something big and fabulous for memories that I had failed to remember that it’s the little things that give life it’s magic. May you always discover and enjoy your magic scissor moments!
Brianna Walker occasionally writes about the Farmer’s Fate for the Blue Mountain Eagle.