On the Farm

"Remember tomorrow is farm day" this phrase more times than not is met with groans. Farm day means an earlier than usual morning, it means we are up and out with no lazing about. And, right now it means we take Daddy to work adding to our driving time. Don't get me wrong, my kids love the farm, but it is definitely not an easy day, and there are times I have to force myself to get up and go, so I don't hold it against them.

Garlic fields a few weeks ago
 The drive to the farm is quiet as usual. Bobby pouts in the backseat contemplating whether he should've chosen to go to work with Dad instead, he does sometimes. Lena nods off staring out the window, I'm pretty sure her and Kira stayed up late talking again last night. Kira plays with the radio, today Claire's current favorite song, the song we started singing to ourselves as she weeded next to me last week, comes on. I look at her in the review mirror lip syncing, punching her fists into the air and I start singing along changing the words "This is my fight song!" to "This is our weeding song!" She giggles, Lena (she wasn't really sleeping) lifts her head from the window and looks at her sister, a big smile on her face.

Hoop house and flowers
By the time we turn down the drive and pass the large rock, the rock the kids play on, fight over, and rest on when they tire of farm work, the rock they've claimed as their own, by then, everyone is in good spirits. We spy Beth. Cheerful, sweet Beth who makes the farm a wonderfully sunny place even on the rainiest days, a dog always at her heals, a smile for everyone. The kids love her, so do I.

We are given a couple of options, our choices are few today since we got here much later than usual. The days planned work is almost done, but it doesn't take long to come up with more work if we finish these before we're ready to go. There's always work to be done on the farm. We decide to spend some time on an experiment meant to discourage weeds.

Running for cover
We break down boxes and cover the just planted rutabaga, hopefully giving it some time to germinate without the weeds taking over before it will need the sunlight. It's hot today, muggy, and even though we've only been working for about half an hour the kids are loosing steam and feeling miserable, but they keep working, slowly.

As we weigh down the last piece of cardboard it starts to rain. Not a light drizzle, or even a sprinkling, its a downpour. I run for the nearby hoop house to take cover, but the kids laugh, tip their heads back and drink it all in. They're dancing, cheering, immediately soaked to the bone, and re-energized.

Sweet relief
We make our way back to the barn, Joannée, the farmer, the one who runs the show, is there with Beth now. They talk with the kids while I wash up, laughing at their rain dances. We spend the rest of the afternoon planting kale starters that will go in the fields this fall, we check out the tiny sprouted Kale we planted last week, "they're so cute," There are some other volunteers in the greenhouse helping us. We talk about libraries, and growing up, and beer. A young farm employee helps Bobby and Claire with the soil blocker. At some point Claire decides she's done with farm work and wanders off to find something more interesting. She checks in on the chickens, plays in the flower beds, and pops in now and again to help Kira spray out trays.

Making labels
Bobby starts pacing, bored of his job as Beth comes in, we've run out of seeds so she's helping us decide which to plant next and offers a different job for Bobby if he's interested, he declines, she smiles at my frustration with his aloofness and I'm reminded the farm isn't his thing. She comments that he's good when he's not working, and is a big help when he is. She's right, I let him go.  He wanders over to visit the chickens, of course.

I decide to weed the bed Bobby didn't want to while I wait for the Lena and another worker to get the soil blocks ready for seeds. I love pulling weeds.

Happy Hens
Claire comes back asking to leave, she's wet and muddy and has added tomato juice and seeds to the mess on her shirt. the result of a delicious, ripe sungold she found and popped in her mouth moments ago. I check my phone, 2 hours exactly. Like clockwork this kid. She is pretty much done and gets fidgety, asking if it's time to go, at exactly 2 hours. I convince her we should stay a little while longer to finish seeding, then head back to the barn to sign out and tally our hours so far this year. Being able to count the kids hours, adjusted for nonworking time, as well as my own means we've already met our yearly commitment. From here on out we will earn extra farm credits for our extra hours, to be used on all the extra veggies the 6 of us eat. Maybe we'll splurge on some meat from one of the animal farms Stone Coop, our farm, has teamed up with this year.

Beth and Joannée talk to the girls about volunteering for another farm dinner, they've had to cancel a couple due to lack of ticket sales, this one will be a big party/fund raiser for an ex-employee wanting to go through the State college's organic farming program. The girls beam. They loved working the past dinners and appreciate that they're work is valued. Along with me, each of the kids are thanked for their hard work as we leave.

Prince Charming?
The ride home is nothing like the ride in. The kids are cheerful and chatty and tired in the best way. The tomatoes we took as we left are eaten, their flavors compared and discussed. We pull in the drive, back home at last, and the car is empty before my seat belt is undone. Everyone is yelling as they burst through our door and race to the bathroom. Lena wins today, I hadn't even notice she took the house key from the car. Claire cries a little, she'd claimed first shower all the way back at the farm. Lena apologizes from the shower. She'll be fast she promises.

The  rest of our day is relaxed, movies and games and dinner. As I tuck Claire in she tells me the best parts of her day, dancing in the rain makes number 1 of course, but there's also playing in the dirt, finding the toad, and visiting the chickens. Oh and learning not all tomatoes taste the same and she really does like them, just not from the store.

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