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Monday, October 15, 2012

Farm Kid Strong!

In my quaint studio cottage, I have a small propane tank with an attached burner on top and an electric water kettle.  For the past year, I have been in love with having oatmeal for breakfast (NOT instant!), and was happy to find that this family had a similar routine.  Each morning for breakfast I cook a bowl of oatmeal on the gas and make a laid-yesterday hard-boiled egg in the kettle.

The farm family of 4 and Great Danes of 3
On my first Saturday morning here, 8-year-old daughter Femke asked me if I had breakfasted on oats.  “Yes (that is the only thing I have to prepare)…  Did you, too?”  “No!  I had corn flakes!”  She shared this with me half braggingly, half proud.  As a weekend treat, the kids are permitted an oatmeal deviation on Saturday and Sunday mornings only, and have a big bowl of plain corn flakes.  No added sugar, fruit, or jam, just corn flakes and fresh cow’s milk.  It is a total indulgence for them.  Oh man, I don’t envy being a farm kid.
Working on this farm with kids, I am beginning to understand the farm kid reputation for being strong as oxen and tossing cows single-handedly!  Last night Femke, the 8-year old girl, picked up a 40-pound sloshing bucket of milk and set it on the counter, nearly higher than her head.  A few drops dribbled down her front, but overall she was entirely successful.  She’s only 8!

Femke & I's laps full of kids
Girls Femke, 8 years old, and Mirte, 13 years old, have been home-schooled by Mom & Dad for the past ½ year since their school closed.  School begins promptly at 8:30am, and continues until 12:00pm, lunch, then homework commences.  A few days ago around 10:30am, I was outside working when Femke joined me with screwdriver and wrench in hand.  She proceeded to dismantle a wooden crate that needed unhinging as the father called down, “Femke is doing very well in her studies and is ahead, so she gets to have a reward today!”  Oh boy, take apart an old wood and metal crate!

Life is a little different on a farm, particularly when kids are involved.  I have lived/worked on a dairy farm before, but it was only me and the 65-ish year old farmer; his kids were already older than me.  Instead, the kids collect the daily chicken eggs, feed the growing piglets, help bring the cows back into pasture, bottle milk, and all sorts of other farm chores.  The night before I left, 8 chicks hatched from their eggs, and Femke smartly brought them all to a raised indoor enclosure before massive rains hit that night.  Mirte taught me how to make butter after milking one night.  Nightly after milking, Femke, Mirte, and I would sit in the goat house and collect recently born kids (goat babies) and hold them on our laps.  There were 11 new kids born that season, 6 of which while I was there!
Arte's up-close portrait of her iris
Femke & I herding the babies
Piglets Rusty & Spruitt
WWOOF post #1 Terrible Arsonist
WWOOF post #3 A Cow's Life
This article also is featured in an online newsletter for WWOOF Independents.  Click here for the November newsletter, then click on "Reportage."

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Mark Twain

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