Farming with Child
It was a long week for Ella Bella and I. Wednesday was our Day of the Cruise. We met up with my friend, Cory, and went to a guy’s place who had a bunch of free stuff of potential interest to the farm. She rode well in her big girl seat, and was excited to get out into the grass on the banks of Lime Lake while we checked out various piles of lumber, fencing, and even a 20’x25’ guesthouse building the guy was hoping to part ways with. I looked upon the squatted, ugly green structure with fascination – imagining us reliving the glory of other days — jacking her up and backing a wagon under her, and testing the limits of our now brakeable Shadow once more. It would be a gloriously foolish thing to do (we decided not to do it). I frolicked through the world of possibilities while Ella stared with fascination at this new strange man, whose name happened to be Fred.
We went back to the farm, where she trucked purposefully through the field with a stick, negotiating the shaky terrain all the way down to the puppy dogs tied up by the hoophouses. There she got some more-or-less aggressive face smooches, and experienced the unique screeching brand of terror/ecstasy accessible only to the pre-literal. It wasn’t bad.
We snacked and I pushed her around in the stroller until finally she succumbed to a snooze, at which point I parked her at the top of the hill, fired up the BCS and plowed a patch for our new rhubarb transplants (thanks to my wonderful mother, and aunt Cheryl), and planted some horseradish root. She woke up shortly thereafter, and we cruised home for a quick lunch/nursing session before heading out once again, for a full-contact pasture walk.
Out in Bill’s pasture with the heifers, she screamed in my face until I put her down on her feet. “The girls won’t mess with her, because she’s small and squeaky, like a predator,” promised Bill. He was right, and she toddled and squealed with delight as the timid heifers circled her curiously – maintaining a 4’ distance, and rearing back nervously every time she lost her footing. Unperturbed by the size of the docile beasts, she romped joyously through the cow-pies until I picked her up once more, and we strolled over by the cows, to check out Bill’s electrical fencing and watering system.
From there was over to Oren’s for a finance meeting, and finally home for supper and bed. Thursday and Friday she hung out with her mom in town, insisting on reading her favorite three books repeatedly (“Rock baby, roll baby; toddle-wobble too…”), and intermittently taking walks outside, crawling up the front steps of her favorite neighbors’ porches, and running excitedly up to every puppy dog in the neighborhood.
Saturday she was back at the farm, for her first ride in the Gator, and some laps down the hill. Ed and I loaded rocks, and drove her to the top of the hill, where she began the long trek down, through the bed-mulch and divets. She neared the driveway, or the garlic plot, and I chased her down and scooped her up — back to the top of the hill to start again. She hung out by Polly and the pups for a while, and languished happily in some more smooches. She accompanied Asher and Kelly for their lunch break. She cried as I drove out of sight in the Gator, but only until Asher distracted her with a spoon, or some other small thing. Exhausted, she fell asleep easily on the way home.
Sunday was yard projects at home, and she played around with a stick as her mother and I transplanted lilies, dug a home hugel, sheet mulched our perennials, and seeded clover in the front yard. She fretted and fussed, overtired and agitated from the aggregate of stimulation. Tired though she was, sleep came only with much aggressive crying and coercion. Her mother and I sat dumbly on the couch, absolutely exhausted in the wake of a crazy, crazy week.