Building Character

Building Character

One weekend in January, my family decided it would be a grand idea to abandon our warm, comfortable houses and spend some time bonding at a cabin in the woods. Like all of those bonding ideas, it didn’t take long to realize why we all live in separate houses. Putting an assortment of 24 adults and children in one building for any amount of time would probably prove contentious, but if those same people know exactly how to push each other’s buttons, you have a formula that may prove to be unstable. Actually the weekend was a great time, and we even got some beautiful weather on Sunday that allowed us to get outside and do some hiking. 

The real entertainment was Saturday night when my mother brought out boxes of photos that dated back to a simpler time, when I was less worried about what  variety of tomato to plant and more consumed with how one can explain to one’s parents, how a barn window ended up with 3 and 1/2 panes.  FYI, it had nothing to do with a vengeful motive, a poorly aimed firewood chunk and a brother’s surprisingly adept survival instincts. Triggered by the photos, an evening of reminiscing ensued, which not only shed some light on how I ended up this way, but also called into question various parenting techniques that were employed.

I grew up in a family of 5 boys, on a property that’s 10 acres, with approximately 8 acres that needs to be mowed. Do you think we ever owned a large riding mower that could buzz through all that in a matter of a few hours? Nope. Instead, we had an assortment of dilapidated push mowers that my brothers and I would take turns powering around the sprawling estate, all the while consoling ourselves with the knowledge that we would never subject our future children to this abuse. Whenever someone would question our loving mother as to why we didn’t own a riding mower, the answer always was something along the line of “doesn’t hurt them to learn how to work”. Kinda ironic how every time we learned how to work, Dad’s checkbook got dustier.

Over time a menagerie of animals was collected, including but not limited to, calves, (cute and fun and even grow to be large and quite tasty), ducks (annoying quacking, very smelly but once again, tasty) sheep, ( lightning fast and impossible to catch, so never found out if they were tasty), potbelly pig, (great pet for a short time, but due to conflicts with Mother over constant appearances in her house, soon relocated to a more accommodating family) and the normal assortment of dogs and cats, too numerous to name.

At one point, with no input from myself or my brothers, my parents came to the realization that while they are getting some work out of their five sons on this little farmette, just imagine how much more they could teach us about work on a real farm. This led to moving to the home farm, where my father grew up, and countless fun little character building lessons that all seemed to have the general theme of ‘they’ll thank us for the work ethic someday’.

Well now, as I look at what our summer holds with a vast assortment of vegetables to be planted and picked, a market that has grown to include quite a selection of bulk chocolates, nuts and candies, and fresh homemade baked goods available daily, oh, and lest I forget, The Creamery will also be in its inaugural season, with all the delicious ice cream, Italian ice and pretzels you could possibly want. 

Now is the time I finally say, 

Thanks Mom and Dad