"Also on our farm, I think we should build a plower so in the winter we can plow our riding trails so we can still ride our horses in the winter."
"Mmmmm. Sounds good. Go play."
"And we need to make a better list of jobs, because Synnee says that all she's going to do is take care of the baby kittens, and I have to take care of the baby chicks AND the baby horses."
I think I may have originally invented this game, this What Will We Do on Our Farm Someday? game, one tiresome road trip or other, but my Willow has taken up my own private fantasy full-force and turned it into something that the entire family shares in, now. Ideally, our farm will be in Oregon, near the mountains and the sea. Ideally, we will move there by the time Willow is ten (she says seven, but I'm pretty sure that's pushing it, even for a fantasy). Ideally, Matt will do freelance graphic design and I'll manage the Hands-on Art Barn (see the Hands On Art Studio for where we got that idea); we'll both homeschool the girls and we'll all run the farm. We will have the following animals:
- chickens and chicks
- cats and kittens
- farm dogs and sled dogs
- horses to ride
- llamas to carry things
- pigs and chickens to kill and cut up and eat in the fall (I am clearly the only one in the family who has a problem eating meat)
- angora rabbits
- peacock and peahen
- bees in a hive
We will have a gift shop where we'll sell soap and dried herbs and milk and eggs and crafts. We'll have an herb garden, and a flower garden, and fields of crops. We've spent long hours with the girls discussing how many fields of hay we might need for the animals in the winter, and what time of year the bull needs to come to help the cow make a baby so she has milk again in the spring (I'm pretty sure that these days it's a man with a long rubber glove and a hypodermic full of bull, but nevermind that for now). I've got a couple of single friends in mind whom I'm going to try to get to come with us (if Eric can live in a trailer behind the welding barn, I don't know why my friend Mac can't) and help out.
This is among the stuff that Willow thinks about every single day, along with looking through her library books about farms and asking for help making lists of farm animals and vegetables to grow. On my list of things to do this summer is to take the girls to numerous local farms, obviously, but happy us that while we were in Wisconsin we found, perhaps, the best working farm for children to visit: The Farm.
As a living museum of rural America, it had a little of everything, all laid out the way it should be, but smaller, obviously, so that you can walk around and see it. And you're allowed to walk wherever you want, you're allowed to touch stuff and handle it and pick it up, you're allowed to crouch down and get a good look at how the tomato plants are doing this far north--one kid I overheard said, "There aren't any rules here. This is like Europe!"
I was pretty interested in the herb garden and the field crops, obviously (as well as wary that people were permitted to hand-feed the cows and bull. I'm sure they're docile and all--but the bull? Seriously? Uncle Tom Earl would not have wanted me to hand-feed a bull. Cows, sure, but not a bull), but the girls? They were all about the baby animals.
Everybody likes a chick, of course:And Willow liked the goat kids a lot, as well, probably just because they're such a nice armful to pick up and snuggle:
Sydney, however, learned (as I think I might have learned at about the same age--I think it was Uncle Charles who kept some goats?) that goats are MEAN. First an adult goat bit a tiny little chunk out of her finger when she was stupid enough to stick it near the goat's mouth (Lesson #1: A goat will eat anything. Lesson #2: Don't stick your fingers in an animal's mouth)--when I took her inside for antibiotic cream and a bandage, the teen worker is all, "Oh, those goats. They're, like, bipolar." Then, as soon as she's recovered from that, a goat kid ups and butts her (Lesson #3: Goats will butt you.). In all our farm discussions now, Sydney makes sure to mention, "No goats, though. They mean."
Fortunately, it didn't take Syd long to find an animal much more her speed: And I thought we were champions at raising the most docile cats ever with our foster kittens--these kittens behaved like melted butter.
Sydney, of course, was having nothing to do with the goat milking, but Will gave it her best shot, and Matt got it down pretty well, actually, for never having touched his hand to an animal's teat before:
I have to tell, you, though, that I milked very well--that's one thing that nursing constantly since 2004 can do for you (nope, of course the baby hasn't weaned yet, she's barely three!).
It's like on the job training for milking someone else.