They cried when they left, and I stood there waving good-bye, reflecting on the fabulous week we had just come through.
Being the grandparent to children from the city lets you show them so many things, and if one has the time, can carry you right back to your own childhood.
“Oh Granny, look”, the wee voice filled with awe captured my attention immediately and I looked skyward where she pointed. Clouds are fascinating, and the one that had inspired her seemed like a monster marshmallow hanging right over the barn beckoning to her. I bent down to her level. If one is going to be with kids you have to act like a kid, and if you act like a kid then you have to think like a kid…..so we entered a world I hadn’t visited for many moons and seasons……and for five short days two young girls worked for me, and then I played with them.
Let me introduce you to Salem 10, and Micaela,8. We watched Anne of Green Gables and turned the farm into our own Avonlea. The girls helped me in the mornings doing grown-up work, and then we did little girl things for the rest
of the day.
The first morning held an Institute meeting at Margret Braken’s and I knew it would only be about an hour. The girls sat quietly in a corner playing with their Barbie dolls while the “old ladies” conducted their business. Afterwards, as a reward for being so good, Margaret took them to the barn to see the cows, hens, and new kittens. “Oh Granny, did you know how big cows heads are? And their eyes – they bug right out of their heads.”
Next on the list was gas, groceries, and rubber boots. The cows-motif boots were perfect – bug eyes, flappy ears, and even a tail at the back. Mic tromped around in those boots for the rest of the week. In my mind I had picked out the froggie boots for Salem but they were too small so she had to make do with a camouflage pattern, but was elated when she found a floppy hat to match.
When we returned the shopping cart I showed the girls how to snap the chain back in place so the quarter was released ….”Oh, so you didn’t buy the cart, you just rented it”.
On the way home, we noticed the cattle were near the fence in the Vanderkooy field. We stopped for a closer look. Both kids and cows warily eyed one another while I was peppered with the usual questions: “Are all cows female?” “What’s the difference between a cow and a bull?” What perplexed Salem the most was the word “cattle”. How can it mean both male and female. Telling her it was an all-encompassing word for all these four legged beasts made no sense to her. Finally I turned the tables and posed a question to her. “What are human beings, or people?” She answered correctly, so I assured her that “cattle” was the word used in the animal world to cover everything – cows, bulls, and calves (forget heifers and steers, I wasn’t going to touch that one)!
As soon as we got home the girls donned their new boots and spent the afternoon practicing their passion – catching frogs. With lots of water on the farm there was no shortage of big frogs and toads plus tadpoles and itty bitty toads the size of a fingernail. We had a separate pail for each species, some with water, some with earth, stones and grass. Each pond had its own set of pails, and we travelled from one to another via lawn tractor and cart. Doing things this way the kids and dog had a ball and I got my lawns cut. (I suppose it does look rather ridiculous cutting grass with a little red trailer and two girls with
While they caught frogs in the house pond I worked close by in the flower beds. When they “frogged” at the field and bush ponds I cut grass, and when they wanted to do their thing at the new tree field pond I clipped grass around the saplings. They even painted the Wishing Well. We three were in perfect harmony all week.
I have a desire not to cook (I make great mud pies though), so I treated the kids to their pick of restaurants. Susie’s was closed for holidays so the choice was reduced. While we waited the kids were provided with placemats and crayons. Name and phone # was to be printed on top and the page left for a weekly draw. Both girls completely cleaned up their plates – wow was I proud of them. A week later we got the coveted call – an ecstatic Salem won a free dinner at Harry Stone’s.
When I told the girls we had to go to a council meeting I was met with groans of despair. I promised no more than half an hour, with a treat afterwards if they were exceptionally quiet. Mic had trouble but she managed.
The phone discussion later was one to be recorded in the family history. “Dad, listen to this… I have lived in Bolton for 10 years and have no idea who the mayor is. I’ve only been at the farm for two days and not only have I met the mayor, but he shook my hand, called me by name, and asked if I was having fun at Gramma’s”.
“And mom, today Granny was in the bank. She knows the girls by their first name, and they all chatted while she did her business. Before we left Sandy gave both Mic and I a sucker. Can you believe that”!
The girls had been good so we went to the Cedar Rail Drive-Restaurant. As we sat on the steps of the play station licking our chocolate coated soft ice cream, they noticed a “funny plane” going over. I had already recognized the motor and was waiting for their reaction. They both stared with mouths agog wanting to know what it was. I was proud to be able to not only tell them what it was, but who it was – their second cousin Pete Harrison. “In fact”, I said “you know that magazine that came today with Granny’s story in it, – well, one of the other stories was about Pete and his plane.”
When the kids looked at the magazine later they were excited as soon as they saw the cover with Old 81.
“There’s the train engine we saw in Palmerston, and the funny little wooden man in front of it”
Kids love variety, and when it comes to sleeping arrangements Granny Camp takes the prize. With two different houses at our disposal there’s all kinds of choice – upstairs or downstairs in either house. One of their favorites is camping out on the floor.
Every day the girls would plead to drive the lawn tractor. Finally I relented. My machine has forward and reverse only. Speed is governed simply by the throttle, and as soon as you take your foot off the pedal the whole thing stops. By the end of the week Micaela was still in the ‘turtle setting’ but Salem had progressed half way up to the rabbit symbol.
They begged for a ride in the big wagon behind the big tractor. That brought back memories of last year when we toured the bush trails, often taking friends with us.
Many years ago Elmer Dennison made the statement to my dad that a man should be able to access all parts of his property. Bill Tilden immediately set forth cutting trails all through the bush. These trails have been maintained over the years and are now grassy walking or driving paths. The grandkids wanted trail rides, but there has been so much rain this year that some of them aren’t even passable with the garden tractor let alone the big one.
To pacify their longing we took the big tractor and wagon and started to clear branches and dead wood along the road fence. It was amazing to see how much those youngsters wanted to work, and what they would try. It didn’t take long for the wagon to be filled, and once emptied it was time for more frog catching.
They invited friends to come frogging and a picnic lunch was packed for snacks. Unfortunately we just got settled, nets in hand when the grey sky opened up and we all got drenched. As a result frogs were replaced with Barbie dolls in the house.
And then the invitation came to see the animals at the near by Clyne farm. That just about put my girls over the edge they were so excited. They met Al Gore the billy goat, along with Helen and a couple of others. They saw a mother cat with five new kittens, and a bull with an earring in his nose. Nellie the calf was really wobbly on her feet, and there were trillions of cows.
Doris Jean and Jonathon gave a run through of the barn’s inhabitants. The question we heard over and over again was “What’s this one’s name?” The nameless bull was subsequently dubbed Jerome and Nellie’s mother became Jenna.
The description of milking the cows was met with blank stares and the question “what color does it come out”?
Later that evening the girls witnessed the milking parlor in action. Outside the combine was working and they watched the hopper being unloaded into the silo. Keith grabbed a handful of wheat and told the girls to take it home and plant it.
Can life get any better than small town friendly atmosphere or a holiday on the farm?