I put a timer on the TV today. It has thrown my kids into a tailspin but they’ll get over it. Now that the weather is great, there’s just no excuse to be inside in front of the boob tube. So instead of watching TV or playing Xbox, the boys helped me with my afternoon chores: one pushed the baby stroller, one fed the bunny, one collected eggs. And they all watched me move and feed horses (an integral step in teaching THEM to do it some day). When they were finished with their jobs, they parked their baby brother on the lawn in front of the barn and wrestled in the grass. And climbed a tree. And played tag. And rode their bikes. And instead of spending my time rounding up boys from in front of the TV, I quickly got my work done.
Once they’re outside, they realize that they have fun. We all know that TV can be mesmerizing and time-sucking, I’m guilty of that too, but now is the time to GET OUTSIDE! Discover something! Take time to look around and notice nature and take an interest in it. Get dirty! My middle son, Atticus is the best at this (he’s also the hardest to pry from the TV). I love to watch him walk down the driveway after his school bus drops him off. It often takes him a while since he stops to inspect anything new or different along the way. A big rock, a piece of trash that has blown away, a small animal along the side of the driveway: these can all keep his attention for minutes at a time. It’s this kind of analysis and concentration that will help him later in life. I don’t think anyone looks back on their childhood and says, “I really wish I had watched more TV!” Another episode of Sponge Bob isn’t going to make any memories. But playing with your brothers, building something, rescuing someone, climbing trees, exploring our land…. That is what our boys are going to remember about their childhood.
Maybe in challenging them to play outside, I will challenge myself as well. Go for a run, spend more time in the garden, don’t get sucked back to my desk and computer, PLAY with those kids! The memory making process is on my shoulders as well. I don’t think I’m going to sit under the maple tree in front of the barn in my old age remembering all the time I sat at my desk. Memories will be about watching the kids play, things that I’ve built, animals I’ve cared for, beautiful weather I’ve enjoyed, and how lucky I was to work outside.
So Xbox and television have their place; but for the next several months, at least, I’ve got Mother Nature’s back and we WILL win.
Pigs are incredibly prolific. That mother of 19 kids and counting has nothing on a mamma pig. She comes into heat at all times of the year (unlike most goats or sheep who are bred seasonally) and, since she only stays pregnant for 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days, she can be bred twice a year. When it came time to reunite Floppy, our oldest sow, with Mr. Oink (papa pig), I have to admit I had reservations. I mean, Floppy had two litters in the past seven months and I wasn’t so anxious to get her knocked up again. So… maybe I was a little too sympathetic, having recently myself given birth to our fourth child. My husband was clearly sympathizing a little too well with poor Mr. Oink who had been, shall we say, lacking in female companionship for a good while. They’re back together again and seemed actually quite happy to reunite.
When Floppy gave birth for the first time I was right there with her, watching her labor through the night. She gave birth to 13 beautiful, tiny little piglets with only some help from me (though she probably didn’t need it). As I watched her labor for hours, I couldn’t help think of my husband who had watched me through this process three times already. How did he do it? I felt so helpless watching her. But women, even more so those of the porcine variety, are so strong! Floppy labored without complaint, and proceeded to nurse and care for her babies until they no longer needed her.
When it came time for Floppy’s daughter, Lucky, to give birth, I couldn’t help but wonder if she would be as good a mother. Shortly after her estimated due date, she was waddling around still swollen with baby belly. Trotting around with a bit of tarp in her mouth, Lucky went in to her house and quickly reemerged, still on task. I went out to check what she was doing and found that she had been building a nest for her yet-to-be-born bundles of joy. (Clearly she thought the bedding I had provided wasn’t good enough.) Lo and behold, the next morning I went in the house to check and there were eight beautiful baby piglets nursing. She looked up as if to say “What??? No problem!” No epidural, no husband to rub her back, no complaints of swollen feet or aching back. For our farm animals, motherhood is instinctive. I wonder what those piglets will be giving Lucky on Sunday? Maybe I’ll serve her breakfast in bed myself.
A blog about farming and food. Kate Bogli owns and operates Maple View Farm, raising livestock and growing veggies, with her husband Jason. The farm has been in his family for 65 years.