Fooled by a sunny morning, I promised the boys an afternoon farm trip today. Unfortunately the sunshine couldn't compensate for the blustery 30-degree winds, and it turned out to be a mitten-and-hats outing. These boys didn't even seem to notice, though: they ran around clucking and poking and sniffing contently for over an hour.
Two gentle calves especially interested Jacob, who nuzzled their noses with his mittens.Zachary appreciated that a sheep's bleat actually does sound like the common English onomatopoeia. While baaing at them through the fence,
he even successfully solicited a smile.Here fearless Michael surveys the geese before running down and herding the birds (some twice his weight!) pond-ward.
I was most interested in hearing stories from my grandmother, who unexpectedly met us by the pig pens (she lives near the farm and knew that we would be there this afternoon).
As a girl and young mother, Grandma worked on farms in upstate New York. She and her sister would stack bales of hay and drive balers, and one time the two drove through a beehive. She was stung 23 times; her sister, 3. On Fridays and Saturdays the family would go see the Westerns showing in town. After the show and an ice cream treat, they parked on Main Street to get a good view of the passersby. Her Grandmother Hall would often make her new clothes for the occasion: once it was a white blouse, dark skirt, and large red tie.
Learning to run a farm as a newlywed brought new, challenging experiences. One Christmas the barn door blew off its rollers, and the day was spent repairing it; the seed and fertilizer would frequently become lodged in the seed drill, requiring hours of patience; and stubborn cows would often refuse to let their milk down. Grandma spent the first summer as a married woman learning to preserve cuts of pig. Some brining and smoking processes took days to complete! Newly trained in smoking meat, she once accidentally burned down the smokehouse. I wonder if the accident left her upset or relieved? Sometimes I wish that my needy flower beds would spontaneously combust.
Although initially unpromising, this field trip turned out to be one that I'll always cherish. It felt right to be at the farm today, standing in the freezing air and hearing Grandma remember. I love my grandmother; I love the industrious legacy that she offers our family. And I especially love the stories.