Farm Kid

This past weekend Husband and I went to visit my Gramma in my hometown, which is 4 hours away from where Husband and I live. On our way to Gramma’s retirement home, Husband wanted to drive past my own homestead, so I obliged him. The house is still there, still looks the same as ever, although the surrounding trees are a lot bigger now and the barn behind the house along with the fence around the backyard are gone. There is a Christmas tree in the front window. One of my friends from highschool lives there now with his wife and their children, so I often see Facebook pictures of him and his loved ones in my old home. It’s nice to know they are enjoying the place and taking care of it. The fireplace looks exactly the same as it did when I was growing up. Their family’s stockings are now hung with care on the mantle.

Anyway the point of this short story was to get to the comment made by my husband:”Talk about a humble beginning.” And yeah, my childhood sharply contrasts that of my children. For one thing, we had no close neighbours. Our house was surrounded by fields. The only noise on some days was the sound of the wind and perhaps a distant tractor or combine. Our main entertainment was our swimming pool, hayloft, and wagons full of soybeans. Our huge yard played host to volleyball and baseball, and our property provided a vast backdrop for epic games of hide-and-seek that lasted an hour or more each turn. If we found a downed tree we would try to lift it; in winter if we found a frozen mud puddle we would try to break the ice with the heels of our boots. We rode our bikes down the road and were always chased by large farm dogs. This was both exciting and frightening, sort of like a suspenseful movie is now. But for all of that romanticizing of developing one’s inner resources as a result of having to look inward for entertainment and enrichment, living on a farm was hard work. Most people, when they think of farm life, think about quaint shops (or shoppes), homemade wholesome food, friendly smiling people, etc. And yeah this is probably true for people who grew up in small towns. Not so much for a person who grows up on an actual farm.

No one thinks about the all-day affairs of fruit picking, house cleaning (because we had a huge house that we enjoyed and were proud of), yard work (understatement of the year), farm chores, cooking, and any other sort of household duty that is made that much more vast due to scale. It’s great to think about the fact that we ate nothing from a box for many years. But the work that goes on behind the scenes, the assembly lines in our kitchen of peeling, slicing, pitting, preserving, canning, freezing, storing, goes largely ignored. I actually thought (and still do) that my mother loved doing housework. She seemed to love spending all day in the kitchen, putting up fruit and veg for the coming winter. That’s fine for her, but why did I have to do that? Because I lived there and would be consuming these products, that’s why. No one’s hobby (be it cooking, gardening, owning a large property in general) is solitary on a farm. Everyone, whether they are interested or not, takes part. That’s what people don’t understand about growing up in the countryside; you have to do a lot of things you are not interested in doing. You don’t lie around or talk long walks enjoying the surrounding nature; you have to stay near home for when you are needed to help. Or because when you finally get a chance to ‘play,’ you’d rather read a book or watch tv. All natured out.

We spent so much time taming, harvesting, and using the resulting products we found outdoors. It felt like a battle to get the grass, pool, fence, leaves, snow, gravel and dirt to behave the way we wanted them to. Another Saturday or Sunday meant another day to git ‘r dun. I often tell an anecdote about finding a mulberry tree at the back of one of our fields. We gathered up what we thought was 4 cups of berries (in between hoeing weeds on hot clay soil), to bring them home for my mother to bake in a pie. My mother made the pie, we ate it, and of course it was delicious. 

No one I grew up with (on the concession) could fathom living in a big city, much less buying a house in a city, making good money in an office, buying a rental property here as well, and raising children in a concrete jungle. One life is not empirically better than the other, but they sure do differ greatly and everyone has a preference as to which type would make them happiest.  

I leave you with Letterkenny Problems, a You Tube series that perfectly embodies my tribe: http://youtu.be/_KLSbCtinXs

Happy Holidays!

That’s against the rules

Ha! Just kidding. There are no rules.

Last Friday I ran out of my anti-goin’ crazy pills, and there were no refills left on the prescription. I rationed out my meds for the weekend to keep myself on as even a keel as possible. It worked, and on Monday I called the pharmacy, who then called my doctor’s office, who renewed the prescription over the phone, and then the pharmacy called me back to let me know my new pills were ready for pick up. Yay. This is a responsible adult, ladies and gentlemen.

I make rules at home. I do not make rules anywhere else. It’s an interesting dichotomy. My girl midget thinks I should become a manager at my job, simply because I’ve been there for so long. I’ve heard the same comments from other people too. The main reasons I have not strived to be manager are that: the pay isn’t much more than I make now; the work hours would be a LOT more than I work currently; and the stress of being a manager and being the first on the chopping block if there are cutbacks to be made would be too much for me to bear on a daily basis.

I tried to explain that if I become a manager (which I think I could, given enough investment of time and ambition), I would be home a lot less. And when I was home, I would be less present, more preoccupied with my TPS reports (Friends reference!) than anything else. I think what many people don’t understand is that I have acheived my personal work goals. I have worked hard and put in the years here so that I can now do my job very easily, from home if needed, and take time off whenever I need, because I have enough seniority to have racked up significant vacation time. If I were a man in his 40s, I would probably not be satisfied with this.

I married my Husband partly because he is significantly older than me (funnily enough, at first I considered our age difference a drawback). Many people (including moi and Husband) believe that women mature more quickly than men, especially when they become a parent. Men are out there hunting, gathering, striving for ever more authority in their work world as a show of strength. Women tend to sacrifice whatever is needed to keep their offspring’s/family’s well-being and success their life’s work. So yeah, I am happy with my work station, as it were. Now if I could just improve the decor here.

Zeus found a home

Very soon after we returned Zeus to the dog shelter we fostered him for, he was adopted by a couple who lives nearby to the shelter. So yay for Zeus. And yay for us, for I don’t think I could have handled 1 more day of dog house-training and wrangling. One occasion of Zeus awesomeness came when he pooped. In my husband’s shoe. Without anyone noticing until Husband went to put on said shoe to go outside. I was sort of amazed at Zeus’ accuracy. Husband wasn’t so impressed.

Even though Zeus was just 9 lbs, he was a handful, especially since we have 2 other dogs already. Aaaaand I think that’s the end of our fostering career. We have done it twice: once with a 100-lb black dog who was nothing but affectionate; and now with Zeus, a 9-lb 8 month old puppy. It appears size doesn’t matter, because even a 9-pounder like him caused an upset to the delicate balance in our household. For example, our dogs know that when we humans sleep in, they are supposed to as well. I may very well get up and let the dogs outside for a quick pee, but then it’s back to bed and our dogs accept their fate. They easily adapt to our schedule and don’t require a morning walk every day. Yes they would like one, but if it doesn’t happen their world continues to spin on its axis.

Secondly, our dogs know how to behave during feeding time. I put down their food bowls one at a time, and then they scarf down that meal as if they haven’t eaten for a month and don’t expect to again for weeks to come. Easy, done, and no arguments between them because one is trying to eat out of the other’s bowl.

Thirdly, our dogs know the car routine. We often bring them along for a ride when we are running errands. They love it and are very well-behaved in the car. Yes, even the wiener dog is civilized. Hard to believe, I know. Our car routine is thus: We get ready to go out, and tell the dogs they can come too. We open the front door of our house and the dogs run out to the car and wait for us to open a car door. The dogs do NOT run down the street and nearly get hit by a car. Ahem.

Fourth, when we are at work? Our dogs sleep. They don’t chew, they don’t cry, and they seem genuinely happy to begin their daily 8-hour nap until the kids get home from school.

So yeah, fostering is over. It’s not impossible to do even while holding down an outside job, but man. It’s difficult to accept that my free time will be taken up with a high-maintenance (simply because they don’t know our routines) dog.