"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


The final day of Fall Farm Camp brought Able and Kari back to the farm. Bless their hearts for making the drive again.  It is a rare thing to have all twelve of us here at the same time. We like it but schedules are difficult to wrangle into alignment. I'm sure you understand.  Here are Everett, Maggie and Kari taking a nature walk and doing some nature journaling.

The highlight of the day was tractor rides with Uncle Able.    Brendan, in fact, got to drive the tractor, which is about right for an eight year old.  For the record, this particular tractor is not a shiny green John Deere you can drive with your pinkie. This is a sixty year old International you turn with a knob on the steering wheel.  As a bonus, I asked Able if he could find me some 'compost' from the cow lot so he and Brendan did that as well.  That translates into getting to run the bucket on top of everything else. We aim to please around here.  Levers, yes please.
My kids also did some boogeling in one of the metal buildings across the creek and came back with historic finds from our old house. Great fun for them.
     Zach and Brent got all the gourds tied and hung in the garage to dry. (Blessings on their heads for that one. They knew I would never get it done and the gourds would lie around rotting and we would once again be back to no gourds for crafts. Audra desperately wants to paint some of these as snowmen, ghosts and santas next year. I want to make bird houses with them myself.  )

The tree house has now officially been turned into a pirate ship. Sails have been hoisted. Prisoners have been thrown into the hold with the rats and 'stinky stuff'. Ahoys have been shouted from below and permissions granted to come aboard. There are new braces up, the top has been angled in preparation for the roof and so far no one has fallen out of it.
      We nailed some random boards up the side of the old mulberry tree to make that one available as well, but none of the kids are strong enough yet to climb up there. That's fine. It is an honor that has to be earned. (We need to nail some knobs up there for old time's sake.) I'm sure it won't be long before someone masters it, and then they all will.

    The biggest draw of the day, after the tractor, was the old dirt pile. This day brought serious tunneling by every kid plus Uncle Brent, the tunnel meister.  The final result was a tunnel they could crawl through. I would just as soon they didn't crawl through a dirt tunnel. It gives me the heebie jeebies.  I constantly envision a collapse while they are attempting the crawl. (Grandmas are easily alarmed. They know how precious life is.)
   This first picture is pre-tunnel. I'm supremely surprised that no one was hacked to pieces with one of the small shovels or rakes they had as tools. A miracle! Rowan, the littlest boy who is standing on top of the pile, spied the dog that lives across the road.  He kept a close eye on old Bandit, as you can see.  Rowan is not a fan of the canines. Bandit doesn't come across the road when people are here. He only comes over when I'm gone.  (I know this to be a fact. Don't ask me how I know.)

Here is little E watching the hole, waiting for his brother to work his way through that tight spot in the middle.  Notice the bare feet?  This is one of the games of the dirt pile: how to keep your shoes off but not get in trouble from your mom.  Everyone knows that sand in your shoes drives you crazy. I know that. You know that. And yet the mothers insist that shoes should be on. Therefore, people on the front of the pile usually do have shoes on, but the ones on the back side of the pile are jubilantly shoeless.  It's part of the dirt pile code of conduct. That particular fight I am staying out of because my kids ran around barefoot their entire childhoods. Yes, they all did get things in their feet and had to go have stitches now and then.  Things happen. They lived through it.

Enough about shoes. This was the real find during excavation: toad babies, already tucked in for the winter.

Can you see them?  Those are two of the final three to be unearthed from inside the tunnel.  There were five in all, enough so each child had one of his own.  We had some frog races on the new ramp, and quite a bit of holding in the hands.  The frogs were eventually set down in the gardens to live another day..or not. We weren't sure of the status of a couple of them near the end.  They seemed a little watery on the inside. All the kids were amazed to discover that toads dig themselves into the dirt backwards. Observation is the cornerstone of the scientific method.

We also had some bird feeder painting time in the afternoon. The arts must have their space, always. Of course there was music, off and on all throughout the four days.  (Of COURSE there was music. You had to ask? )

And finally there was the 'all the adults are exhausted and need a break' movie of the last day. This time it was Sandlot, but we didn't get too far in.  We watched through the S'mores scene and called it good.
Look at that, they still all fit on the couch.  What a bunch of great little campers.

My own kids did some wonderful cleaning up of the yard and the house before heading out for the long drive back to the city.  Thank goodness, because I could barely even crawl into the bed, I was so tired; happy but tired.  Another successful Farm Camp for the books.

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