>Since I was pregnant with Della, one of the most frequent comments I’ve heard about our kids is that a farm is a great place for kids. Kids on farms conjures up a variety of images for me, which may be different than those visualized by most of you. I used to picture children feeding the animals, enjoying the open spaces, or pulling a crispy carrot from the ground and eating it. There are also a lot of things I never quite pictured until the last few weeks.
The pasture behind our house is does not grow tall enough for the cows to graze until nearly June, so last fall when we planted our farm cover crops, we planted things that would help our soil through the winter, but we also had the goal of growing cow food for spring. So, for the last few weeks we have been cutting our cereal rye and field pea cover crop and taking it to the cows. Not all of the three cows walks well on a leash, so two cows have been able to walk to the on-farm grazing and one has to stay home and eat from the wheelbarrow. While I cut my bushels of cow food every evening from the 4-foot tall mini-fields, the kids have taken to blazing trails through the vegetation, hunting dragons and wolves with their various weapons of choice, while I yell at them to “watch out for the hot wire”. I never pictured that.
Finally, summer-like weather has arrived, and with it comes the scanty clothing of warm temperatures. We have had to turn our rows of sprinklers on to irrigate the small spinach, arugula, and bok choi. Mike and I were planting a new patch of all those things last night when the kids figure out that they can run down the parallel rows of little plants in order to be sprayed by the water, while we yell “stay in the wheelrows—don’t step on the little plants!” I never pictured that.
Dave, our resident mechanic, found the kids a battery-powered, kid-sized car last week. They take turns driving it around the farm and both of them have become proficient at staying on the driveways and out of the spinach. It’s pretty cute, really, and they work together at getting it un-stuck, most of the time. This afternoon they hit a water valve in one of the driveways with one of their car wheels, purely accidentally. This made a lovely mud pond, and the kids took no time in stripping down to their birthday suits and rolling in the mud. At least they remembered my last rant about not rolling in the mud in their clothes because it’s hard to wash it all out. So if you saw the mud-clad mini-streakers during pickup on Wednesday, that’s the story. I surely never pictured that.
It’s easier to visualize kids spending all day outside in the fresh air and sunshine, wandering 15 acres, with pretty much no worries, helping themselves to blackberries, peas, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Maybe stopping for a snack of milk and bread in the house after a long, hard morning of slug hunting in the garlic patch or hunting those little white cabbage butterflies with a pink butterfly net for a quarter a piece. Maybe learning to patiently wrap a rubber band around a bunch of mint, or helping to carry the bunches of swiss chard or pea vines to the box at the end of the row. Or even rounding-up escaped baby pigs by herding them from a mini-car?