July 30, 2010


I asked Jeremy if Grandpa Ed ever took a vacation. He said, once. (Grandpa Ed is 90 years old and still runs 30 head of cattle in Ridgefield, WA.) Jeremy said it's because Grandpa Ed can't not work. Apparently while on vacation to his sister's house somewhere in the middle of the country (Iowa or Kansas or something), he built her a garage. I'm sure that Grandpa Ed's pension for working is one reason, but I think I know the other reason for not taking vacations.

Every summer we spend a week at my parents' lake cabin in eastern Washington. I grew up going to Bead Lake - spending almost every weekend there in the summers swimming, learning to water ski, hiking the hills - it was great fun. As an adult the best part of going to the lake, apart from the awesome family time, is that there is no cell phone service, no internet, no cable. I get to disconnect for a bit and just relax!

Until we moved out to the farm, leaving a house for a week meant putting a hold on the newspaper and mail and getting someone to check on the cats a couple of times during the week. On the farm it means something entirely different.

We can't just leave extra food and water out for the sheep. We can't leave eggs to pile up in the chicken coop. And there is no way I can relax worrying about coyotes or a lamb squeezing under the fence. We have to get someone to stay at the house for the whole time we are away.

This can't be just anyone either. I have to trust the person to take care of all the daily chores, be on alert for problems and know what to do if there is a problem. It's not like there are massive chores everyday. Most days I spend little more than a hour doing farm chores. But those chores have to be done.

Thankfully for the past two years my co-worker, Desiree, who grew up on a farm in central Oregon, has offered to farm-sit. She has a family and a job and a house of her own, but says she enjoys remembering all the farming activities and her kids love gathering eggs and petting the sheep. We have really lucked out! If Grandpa Ed had Desiree maybe he would have taken more vacations - even if he all he did was build garages.

(PS - Since we have no internet at the lake, I will be blog-free for the next 10 days. I have asked Desiree to keep track of her activities so I can post a good "while we were away" story.)


Terry Tanner said...

Ah, yes, the farm chores. My father's farm included something called a "dairy" where cows had to be milked twice a day. And the person who milked them had to be trusted not only by my Dad, but more importantly, by the cows. There were very few people with that qualification, so consequently our vacations, when they happened, were micro-vacations, never lasting more than 12-14 hours.

Mindy said...

I think most farmers are relegated to "micr-vacations" :-)