I'm always amazed, and somewhat intimidated, when I hear other farmers talk about how their kids are out in the field with them working happily by their sides day in and day out. while I harbor dreams of blissful family unity and boys who love to be with me learning the ethics of hard work, the truth is they want nothing to do with outdoor work.
perhaps it's the urban imprint from having spent their formative years walking over a mile to the nearest green space. perhaps it's that I'm more inclined to put my head down and do things myself, my reservoir of patience running low in the heat of the season. perhaps I'm too soft or they're too lazy. whatever the reason, it makes me sad that getting them to help is such a challenge.
my oldest son began going to farmers markets with me when he was seven. now 9, he's got two years under his belt and has gone from climbing all over the car, hanging out with the other vendors and eating his way through the market, to loading and unloading buckets, helping put up the tent, and designing tight, beautiful bouquets. In fact, he's gotten so confident in his design skills, he now feels free to correct me on my flower choices and style.
my middle son will happily work as long as he gets paid. the bucket washing? $.10/bucket. or an hour of ipad time. he'll do just about anything for an hour of ipad time.
the baby, curious and willing, loves to help with tasks as long as it's done his way.
he helped me seed 1000 sunflowers one afternoon, joyfully filling flats with his little shovel and meticulously putting one seed in each hole.
but he also wanders off and disappears and I spend several long, frantic minutes racing around making sure he's safe. we've thought of getting livestock fencing and setting up a playpen farm-style so he'll stay contained and out of danger.
in the meantime, I'll just keep trudging ahead, encouraging their participation, keeping faith that the small victories are paving the way to life lessons down the road.