Being: Conscious, mortal existence; life.
Every month we welcome two families, two people, two voices to share their stories in whatever way they chose. We hope that you find joy in their daily lives, and their simple habit of just being.
Fans of the Being series may notice that this post has appeared on a Monday morning, rather than in its usual Tuesday spot here on the blog. Starting this week, the Rhythm of the Home blog will see a slight schedule shift. Being posts will appear on Monday and Thursdays, and our weekly photography post will be published on Tuesday. Thanks, as always, for reading!
As these longest days of the year unfold here on the farm, I’m reminded of the constancy of our days. Whether the day is long or short, warm or cold, stormy or fine, it begins and ends with chores. Our every daily rhythm is set by these chores, by the simple need to care for our many animals. My husband Craig has been farming for 25 years. For him, waking early is as natural and automatic as the sunrise itself. For me, waking early is sometimes not so easy. In Winter, we wake long before first light, and Craig heads out to begin chores with a flashlight in hand. In these longer days, chores begin in the grey light of dawn. With the children still sleeping soundly, I too begin chores, here near the house. Feeding the orphaned piglets, watering the garden, releasing the sheep from their overnight confinement, sorting and packaging eggs for sale. Some mornings, our son Thatcher wakes early, too. Our chores have ingrained themselves into the fabric of his young life. He is willing and capable and, at three and a half, a contributing member of this farming family.
I neither demand nor expect my young son to help. I simply present him with the opportunity to work alongside me, and have taught him by example. If he chooses to help of his own volition, so be it. If not, that too is fine. So long as he is by my side and treating the animals with respect, I ask for little more. The wonderful thing is, he often wants to help, wants to do more. He sees how his contribution is valuable, and so he comes to his work willing and eager. The rewards are sweet – piglet kisses and such.
It is a joy to both Craig and me to watch our children grow within the context of this farm, to hear Thatcher proclaim, “Today looks like a good day for making hay!” as he bounces with excitement over the prospect of heading out in the tractor to mow with Dad.
(Lest anyone think that our children’s days are totally consumed with work, yesterday after mowing hay we had a lovely and very leisurely lunch to celebrate Father’s Day with Craig’s family, followed by swimming and then by long naps – for the kids, anyway.) When Thatcher woke from his nap, he found me in the garden, clearing a spot for a few vegetable plants we started from seed quite a while ago. “Mama, let me dig a hole for you!” Digging in the dirt – this is helpful play indeed!
His own watering can. Real, functional, just the right size. I wholeheartedly believe children should be given real tools. Real tools for the real jobs they can accomplish with pride and delight.
Another ride on a noisy machine with Dad, more mowing…
And while Thatcher rides the mower with Dad, Greta and I head out to feed and water the young chickens, the pullets. These ladies are coming up on four months old, and will be laying soon. For now, they’re growing beautifully and enjoying green grass and sunshine, living in a mobile coop out in the cow pasture. Greta – my little Aquarius baby – heads straight for the water dish. She has no idea who is sneaking up behind her.
As did Thatcher, Greta has been tagging along for chores since she was just a tiny baby. First in a carrier on my chest, then in a pack on my back, now in the stroller. This little girl just started walking in earnest last week, so now she gets to explore the farm even more! Freed from the confines of the sling or the stroller, she’ll soon begin to show me how she wants to participate, what she wants to try her hands at, how she wants to help.
Tired of riding on the mower, Thatcher rejoins us as we head to the hoop house. He calls himself the Top Row Egg Getter. I better not even think about collecting eggs from the top row of nest boxes when this boy is around – he gets very upset with me.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, collecting eggs was one of the first chores Thatcher learned how to do, and to do well. Having watched me collect eggs countless times, by the time he could walk, he just knew how to do it, instinctively. He knew to be so careful, to lower the eggs into the bucket slowly, to place the eggs in a flat layer to prevent them from rolling and breaking. He is a rough and tumble kid, but he has learned that sometimes a gentle touch is best.
Waiting for Mama. Having a snack. Feeding the dog. My kids have had to learn patience, too. Not always an easy lesson. Food helps.
Our last barn chore is to feed and water and brush the horses. Here, Thatcher likes to “pile up hay for ‘morrow”. I love the intensity he brings to this made-up chore. And the pleasure he gets from it. When I tell him I’m all done, he always tells me he is not, he needs to do three more scoops. “One more”, I say. “No, two”. So he does two more scoops and then announces that he is all done, too. I make sure to thank him for all of his hard work, every single day. Even if it is made-up work.
We are a family of farmers, working and growing alongside one another. It is who we are, what we do. This is our life. Life on the farm. A life that we love. Summer, Fall, Winter or Spring, our days are much the same, revolving around this framework of tasks. It is our children who change the most. Change and learn and in turn, teach us so much.
This month we welcome Sophie to the blog as a guest contributor. You can visit Sophie in her own internet space, The Joy of Farming, where she writes about her life as a farmer, wife and mother. You’ll notice that Sophie’s photographs are especially lovely, and we are so happy to have her sharing them with us this month as a part of the Being series.
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do. To learn more about us, please visit us on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter.
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