I didn't bring my phone/camera along on the hike we did yesterday as a family. It was on purpose. I didn't want the distraction.
It was a beautiful day, muggy and warm. Braxton was the only one who wished for a coat in the shade but he's always the one who is cold. After a minute of running he forgot his request. Adelle brought her jacket, but she's hot blooded so go figure. Realizing she didn't want to carry it the whole time she convinced Gage to tie it around his coat so here is her little brother, sporting the sweatershirt tie around the waist. He can go about 10 steps and then he call, "can someone tighten this," as it slides the short distance down his legs. I tell Gage that I love him and he gives his typical response, "me too." It's my favorite.
Emmett has his backpack on and has supplied it specifically for the day with his magnifying glass. All the kids take turns looking at bugs, branches, rocks, through the lens. I notice there are also bubbles in Emmett's pack and ask about them. "Those are for Gage because I thought he would want to blow bubbles on the hike," he tells me and my heart skips a beat. Always on point with his family members, friends feelings and needs.
Adelle is a scene to be had all in herself. She dressed for the hike by wearing her jungle safari romper. The socks are pink and they are pulled up to her knees. She put in a big, green, hair bow with monkeys on the ribbon because, "monkeys swing in trees and there will be lots of trees." She has two pockets on the front side of her romper and each one holds a library chapter book, "in case I get bored," she explains. Her backpack has her sketch book and a whole bag full of markers and crayons. It's no wonder she talked her little brother into carrying her jacket.
We stop periodically. Adelle sits to sketch. Gage needs the jacket tightened around his little waist. Emmett pulls out his magnifying glass. Braxton picks up a rock and aims for a tree. Jeff loosens his hold on Hercules who is dragging him along the path, while strangling himself. I soak it all in. Painting a mental picture to hold onto for years to come.
There is a tree that has fallen out over the lake and I decide to try and balance on it. Jeff and Braxton start teasing me. Adelle gets out her pad to sketch the scene. Jeff asks if she is going to capture the big splash. I start to laugh and loose my balance, steadying myself back on the bank. I try again and cross, ignoring the peanut gallery. Adelle wants to try so she goes next, holding my hand the whole way but without needing my help. Jeff has to one up me so he attempts to cross walking backwards. Emmett doesn't need to impress anyone so he sits and watches, more curious about the bark on the tree. Braxton wants to cross on his own but isn't quite sure he can make it. He doesn't want to ask for help either so I change the subject and challenge him to a race.
He beats me running. It's a short distance and midway there is no more competition. He is fast, and proud. I'm happy. Not that I lost to him, but that he recognizes his talent. Emmett, Gage, and Adelle run with us to and just for the fun of running.
We make it to the waterfall and it's beautiful. Adelle finds a trail up to it and decides to explore. Braxton takes the lead and before we know it he is standing on a rock, water falling on all sides of him. Jeff tells him it's going to be slippery and to be careful. We all follow. Jeff, drug by the dog, and me in between Gage and Emmett helping lift them over logs and rocks and find ample foot placement to avoid the fall. I slip. My jeans and my hands get muddy from the fall. Emmett follows suit and slips. He isn't scared of being dirty though, unlike me, so he gets up and is wearing half the mountain. I holler up to Braxton and Adelle to stop except that I can't get the words out, they are slurred and I am laughing. The stench of marijuana is so strong. Jeff says I am on it because I can't get the words out. We both start laughing hysterically, looking around for the source. We don't see anyone but we feel like we are locked in a small closet with a dozen users because the smell is so strong. The kids are oblivious. Gage slips and slides into a little pool midway down the fall. He is wet from the waist down but he doesn't cry, just gets pulled up by his dad. We've had enough fun so we start our descend. Hercules is whining at the bottom of the falls where we tied him to to log.
I ask Braxton to run the dog on the way back. They both have loads of energy to release. Gage is tired and asks to be carried. Jeff lifts him onto his shoulders, and then remembers that Gage is soaking wet. It feels good though because it's still 70 degrees. I offer to take Adelle's pack and Jeff is already wearing Emmett's so the two of them run with Braxton and the dog. I reach for Jeff's hand and we talk about how big our kids are getting. We talk about Conference talks and what a world we live in. Another family approaches and Jeff and I watch from a distance as Braxton reigns in Hercules and controls him from hindering the small children. Braxton does a good job of staying in control and the people smile when we pass.
We can't see Emmett. Braxton has circled us and Adelle runs like a girl in front of us but Emmett was in the lead and cannot be seen. Jeff starts to panic and I reassure him that Emmett is fine and can't be too far ahead. We send Braxton and Hercules up to tell Emmett to wait. Emmett is sitting at the fork, taking a breather and waiting for us because he didn't know which way to go. It's nice to know that our kids have common sense in the wilderness.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
"Come on," he says after we finished lunch one Thursday. "Where are we going?" I ask. "To get our tractor!" "But Gage is asleep." "That's okay, they are delivering it!!"
"We have to take a picture." "For what?" "To document the day we got the tractor. I always want to remember how happy you were about this tractor!"
Since we started our farm it's become apparent that we really need a tractor. Like, really.
Jeff has been tractor shopping for a while, just browsing actually but getting a feel for what he liked and what all we would need. There is so much you can do once you have a tractor. Now we just need more daylight and stamina to do all we want to do!
We drove the truck down to The Diner where we thought it was being delivered but we ended up turning around and the semi brought it all the way back to our place for us.
Jeff made sure we bought all the bells and whistles too. For tilling, for plowing, for lifting, mowing...
When Gage woke up from his nap he was excited about the tractor too and he got to take the first ride on it with his daddy. They went right to work on the driveway.
Later when Jeff was seeing how it worked in the wet pasture he got the tractor stuck! On the first day of owning it!!
Then one Saturday I learned how to drive the tractor and got to act as Jeff's ladder while he worked on one of the mobile chicken coops. I drove, backed up, and lifted and lowered him to be able to reach his work area.
I love working with my husband. I have always been so in love with how handy he is. He just really knows stuff and he is good at improvising on the job. And when he tells me things, like how impressed he was with how well I operated the tractor, it makes me feel like the luckiest lady. Not only does my husband let me drive his tractor but he stands on it while I do and he thinks I do a really good job at it.
This was my view from the drivers seat.
Men are so cute. They are a lot like women in some ways. Like when women get a new pair of shoes they want to show all their friends and wear them out and their friends want to borrow them....
Come to find out, guys are the same way when it comes to heavy machinery. A couple weeks after we got the tractor my dad is asking Jeff if he can use it and the next thing I know my dad is "that guy" that is driving the tractor down the county road to his house to spread his bark. And just grinning ear to ear the whole time.
I don't think there is anything sexy about a tractor but I sure do love the man whose tractor it is.
Jeff’s dad and all three of his brothers showed up Tuesday morning, with their work faces on. The kids couldn’t wait. Since Monday they asked about every hour when they were going to be here. Company is thrilling around this place and has come to feel more natural than when we are the only ones here. The farm is a place where we gather with family and friends. Where we work together. The load is lightened that way and everyone gets their fix of the farm. We love that about it. The more the merrier.
Aside from the kids being excited though, Jeff was the one who was lit up all week by their help. He was so giddy about them coming and it was fun to watch as they were here, how natural it was for them to work together as a team. Without words or a lot of instruction they all sort of just knew their job and did it. They worked so long and hard and I felt, as usual since moving here, like a pioneer woman. Wearing my apron all day. Making big breakfasts, caring for the children, making big lunches, taxiing my kids around to activities (this part was very un-pioneer of me), and then coming home to make another big meal for dinner. Which we didn’t eat until sundown every night they were here. The difference between Froberg’s and Ashmore’s is that Froberg’s feel hunger and stop to eat once in a while. Ashmore’s don’t notice they are hungry until you physically put hot, fine smelling food, under their noses. So all the week the kids and I would eat dinner around 5:00pm because we were hungry, and then we would sit down again when all the guys came in and eat a second round.
The guys brought welders and tools and machines with them to town. They started from scratch and built the frames of two large mobile chicken coops. I assumed they were working all day, every day they were here but come to find out some of them were occasionally playing on the four wheeler as well. Boys.
Bonuses of Man Camp were the days off that I got from my normal farm chores. Man camp was a little like “Mom Vacation” in some ways. They collected my eggs on numerous days which left me to wear nice clothes and be showered more than is typical. Braxton, Adelle, and Emmett still had school all week and Gage wanted nothing to do with me while they were here. My little mommy’s boy wanted to work with the men the whole time so I found myself frequently picking up my book to read, or going to the grocery store all by myself. It was wonderfully relaxing and made the chicken coop project less stressful on me.
The sun shone the whole week and I remember looking up and thanking my Heavenly Father when they were pulling out of the driveway to leave for home Sunday morning. I felt a sprinkle from the sky and I knew our sunny days had expired. They were able to get so much more done in the sun than they would have been able to in the rain and I felt that blessing.
I’m thankful for Man Camp. Blessed by the men in our families who sacrifice so much of themselves for their families. The amount of work that they got done that week was something that has no price. Jeff needed so much help and they came so willingly and accomplished so much. It never would have gotten done doing an hour here or there like we had anticipated.
The guys are so fun and silly, and we love them all so much. I love the relationship that Jeff has with his family. Makes me want to have more boys so they can have fun experiences like this when they get big. I kept imagining Brax, Em, and Gage as adults. Coming to help each other. Working together. Being competitive and goofy. I love how fun they made the job and how light the mood was when they were all working together. I felt the Priesthood so strongly in my home while they were here and especially when they gave their dad a blessing after his manly accident on the four-wheeler. I am thankful for men who know who they are and why they are here. Who think outside of themselves and serve. My heart is overflowing.
And here is the finished product! Out on the pasture April 1, 2016