Although my husband and I were both raised on a farm, we are the last generation in our immediate family to do so. My daughters were both raised in a small town and they have since moved on to the Twin Cities, so my grandsons are bona fide “city slickers” by farm standards.
While visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s house in a small town last month, the grandsons were then invited to visit at a small farm nearby. This is when the differences became painfully apparent.
The boys were greeted by two farm dogs when they arrived. The dogs were polite and friendly, checking them out as they arrived on their territory, but the boys were charmed by the fact that they didn’t knock them over like their grandpa’s hunting dog did. Then, the cat joined in, rubbing against their feet as they walked. They seriously wanted to take that friendly farm cat home—to their third floor apartment.
The best was yet to come, though. Standing and lying in the first fence were two cows. Those were bigger than anything those two boys had ever seen. With big eyes and cautious feet, they went around the large livestock with great respect and no interest in approaching them. They were invited to pet the lambs and they did so tentatively, but even these were a little awe-inspiring to a couple of boys who live in the city.
The pigs were fascinating. They were having a nice mud bath when the boys got there and there was nothing they would have liked better than to have joined them. They loved the soft grunting noises and the older one had to be persuaded that these grunts were indeed the oinks that their “Old Macdonald” song had led them to expect.
Their reaction to the chickens was the best, however. They loved the fact that they had found an animal on the farm that was more afraid of them than they were of it. In addition, they were fascinated by the notion that this animal would lay eggs (yes, just like the ones they got from the store). Unfortunately, a quick check of the hen house revealed no eggs at that time, so they tended to look upon the whole egg-laying theory as a kind of an “urban myth” if you’ll forgive the expression.
The chickens proved to be a wild good time. The boys chased them all around the chicken coop and before they were done with the cackling, flapping birds, they had even shaken up the sheep until they joined the race and ended up squeezing themselves out of the henhouse and into the chicken yard via the chicken door flap. They were highly confused by this, but the boys were thrilled. Arthur stuck his head out the window of the chicken coop calling, “Here chicky, chicky, chicky,” with no regard to whether he was addressing chickens or sheep. In all fairness, I think the chickens and sheep were pretty confused too!
Arthur discovered that he could crawl under and climb over most of the fences, and when he was given a dozen eggs laid by the hens he was happy with his visit. He became hysterical when we got home, however, when he saw me crack one of the eggs and put it in food. “The chickens gave me those eggs and you broke it.”
Royce was somewhat quiet after we had come home. He didn’t say too much about the animals and when asked about it, he just said the farm was fine. When it came time for bed that night, however, he said, “Grandma, I don’t want you to be a teacher. I want you to be a farmer.”
“Really?” I replied, my mind obviously not following his.
“Yeah,” he said enthusiastically, “because then you would have all kinds of animals.”
That’s my little farmer boys!