June 29, 2010

There Goes My Baby

I am the mother of four absolutely wonderful girls. In the great cosmic roll of the dice, I got super lucky. The eldest is 21 and is a bi-lingual para-legal in Brussels, Belgium. The second is 19 and a Spanish/Psychology major at San Diego State University. The third is 12 and in the middle of middle school.

And the youngest, Maya, is 9.

Since it's summer, the rules around the house are more lax than usual, which is saying something if you know us. Maya has been spending time at her aunt's house lately and was due to come home a couple of days ago, but I got this short email:

i miss you but i don't want to come home.

AGH! My baby is growing up! The first taste of independence has struck!

As any mother reading this will understand, I felt thrilled and nostalgic at the same time. A former colleague once reminded me of an old saying that has stayed with me, "A parent's job is to give children two things -- roots and wings."

I closed my eyes and could just see my fledgling daring to eye the sky.

Given that her three predecessors had always been one step ahead of me, I was prepared for the leap into the air that she took the following day. While still at her aunt's house, she concocted a veritable grown-up plan for herself for the weekend. The only thing lacking was a little financing, hence the next email:

hey mom i love you so much can u please give me 86$ for 3 tickets to the Justin Bieber concert?

I suppose I can.

After all, how could I stand in the way of my baby bird taking flight.

June 15, 2010

Having a Field Day

Two months ago, Luke Gran from the Practical Farmers of Iowa contacted me as he was making up his annual field day schedule for the state of Iowa. He thought it would be nice if I had some folks over to our farm and talked about "going organic". No sweat, I thought. There would be a $500 stipend for half a day of showing off our farm and a $200 food allowance for putting on a lunch.

Easy money.


There's no such thing as a free lunch. (Why do we have to learn this lesson over and over? Maybe it's just me.)

Here's how things progressed:

We buy some local chicken at the Clarinda Fareway for the field day.
We buy paper plates, paper cups, and drink containers.
I order the grassroots movie "Fresh" to show.
I create the menu.
I plan the talks.
I make the schedule for the day.
I collect materials that may be of interest to farmers "going organic".
I order the natural, grass-fed beef patties for hamburgers.

Great. No problem. The Practical Farmers of Iowa will reimburse all these expenses.

I create an ad on Facebook to invite people to the event. The Practical Farmers place ads in various publications.

How many people will turn up? No idea. No problem. We'll wing it.

I put together a packet of information for people to take with them for reference. As I'm copying, the ink cartridge goes dry. I run to the store for a new one.

This is getting stressful.

As the day draws nearer, I try to locate tables. A neighbor suggests I call the local community center for them. I call and I call and I call. It seems Mike isn't always at the phone. I write a letter and Mike calls me...three days before the event. He says he has to check with the mayor and get back to me.

Are you kidding? The mayor has to "Ok" the use of the tables?

Mr. Mayor never does let me know, one way or the other, about the tables. Mike and I are both stymied. I even find the mayor's cell number and leave him a message. No response.

He won't get my vote the next time around.

Fortunately, the neighbors helped me cobble together enough chairs and tables for everyone who attended.

They've saved my butt more than once! God bless 'em.

The day before the event, I buy all the fresh ingredients we need. With help from Grandma Jan, we make salads and help Dec prepare her 15-minute talk. It takes about four hours.

Dec was supposed to either have her talk done so that she could weed today or pull it out of her butt at the appointed time so that she could weed today. Ugh!

I mow the aronia berries so that Hubby won't be embarrassed when he shows them off on the tour. I mow the expanse of field for the kids to play on. I turn to mow the heart of the compound so that it looks nice for all the visitors.

The mower seems to be sluggish. I get off to see what the problem is and find the back wheel completely shredded.

Are you kidding me?

The day arrives.
Everything is ready.
The skies open up at 5am and fire and brimstone (and two more inches of rain) descend on our lovely little patch of heaven.


Setting up the tables outside, I suddenly hear screams coming from the house. I rush inside to find the roasting rosemary chicken on fire in the oven.

Knights, new plan!

We moved the chicken to the grill with the hamburgers, the rain abated and the sun shone for the rest of the day. We had a nice turnout of about 45 people. Lunch was tasty. The talks went well.

I didn't get to a tenth of what I wanted to say!

While winding down watching "Fresh", I started to feel a little queasy in the hot, airless cabin. I excused myself to the bathroom and proceeded to toss my cookies.

"What cookies?" Hubby asks, apparently looking for dessert.

Gotta love that Russian of mine!

We're four days out and I think I've just about recovered.

Reviews of the day were pretty good, even though the garden wasn't weeded.

But, we offered Grandma a deal. If she gives us $500 next summer when she comes to visit, we'll agree to forego the field day! Heck, we may even forego it for free.

June 1, 2010

Putting My Feet Up

Yesterday, May 31st, was Memorial Day which meant an extra day off and, therefore, an extra day at the farm. And the weather couldn't have been better. On top of that, Meelie and her boyfriend, Tom, popped out to spend the afternoon with us.

Hubby grilled some perfect hamburgers. We all went for a swim. Then, there was a request to go horseback riding. (Meelie and Tom hadn't been for ages.) Our wonderful neighbor, Marlin, has horses that he likes us to ride as often as we like, to keep them from getting wild.

Well, we hadn't availed ourselves of this privilege for a long time. It's probably been about ten months since we took out a horse or two for a ride. The result of this hiatus is that the horses can get a little uppity, or lazy, or both.

I caught the sweetest of the horses, Slick, in his paddock and was leading him into the saddling area where he accidentally planted his foot onto mine (which, in violation of Marlin's hard shoe rule, was clad in only a flip-flop -- ouch, it hurts all over again).

Slick's half ton plus of horse flesh was firmly planted on my foot for a good ten seconds while I punched him in the gut yelling "side!" for him to go to the OTHER side and get off of me. Apparently, it took him that time to remember his training. He finally did move and seemed oblivious to what he had just done. He even licked me (as is his habit) as I was bridling him.

The picture doesn't do it justice. It's much worse than it looks.

The pity party can commence!

Amazingly, it hurt for the rest of the day but now is only a bit stiff, making me look like I have a peg leg when I walk.

Also amazingly, another of Marlin's horses stepped on me four years ago and the result was about the same.

I wonder how many swollen feet I'll need to go through before I start following Marlin's hard shoe rule.