In Defense of Spur of the Moment

I was not raised this way. No, where I come from there is planning ahead. Hotel reservations are booked weeks in advance. Itineraries are printed.

Then I married farmer Gene. Its rush and scamper, and make hay while the sun shines. I can’t count how often there has been a planned event, (Memorial Day weekend with friends comes to mind), and suddenly there is tons to do on the farm. Hay to make, and so on and so forth and what have you. We arrive the last of everyone; each time, every time.

We’ve had strife over this. I have a hard time understanding why we can’t plan and then go. Slowly though, it’s been sinking into my watery brain that you don’t plan things like rain, tractor failures, and perfect sunshine, but they all three happen. (Gene would say s.l.o.w.l.y it’s been sinking in. So slowly he may not have noticed that I now I am totally understanding all the time)

With school out, we have a general idea of some fun things we want to do with our children, but taking off a week or more for a real vacation is not going to happen. Enter: Spur of the Moment Trips. My life has been revolutionized!

Last week we checked out the week coming. No hay needed to be cut. The corn was planted. We had time to kick on thing off of our bucket list: the zoo.  Which zoo should we go to? Philadelphia? Baltimore? DC? Why wouldn’t we drag four small children with no interest in politics or American history to the free zoo in Washington DC? We couldn’t see why not.

After a 3 hour drive, (traffic = turtles pace) we arrived at our hotel(that had been booked a mere two days in advance) in Washington DC.  To get the party started, I immediately get everybody in their swim gear and we head towards the pool. As we are arriving the lifeguard is literally flipping a CLOSED sign on the glass door. Apparently in Virginia, hotels must have lifeguards, and those lifeguards most close at any sign of lightening. There are tears, and the scenario enforces my belief to never promise my children anything.

There is a happy ending to this story, because after an hour or two I went with my heart-broken three year old to look at the pool again and it had re-opened. We (technically “they” – I was putting Jena to sleep) swam until 10:00 pm. Because on a spur-of -the moment vacation; who cares if you tire your children out until they are a shell of their former selves? Not us!

The next morning we are eating our (Free! Continental! Two bowls of lucky charms for everybody!)Breakfast- all happy.  Two different people mention to Gene that driving to the zoo is a bad idea. We were seven miles from the zoo, but only people with bricks for their brain would drive to the zoo. That’s how awful it is. Then a kind man passing by our table handed us his Metro passes. This sealed the deal. Why wouldn’t we schlep our four young children onto the Metro? We could see no reason why not.

We (Gene & I) are semi-seasoned travelers. It’s been awhile though, and we are not seasoned at travelling Metro’s with our children AT ALL.  You know when you are a country person, and you’re headed to the city, you want to appear slick and suave and kind of slide below the radar?

Take your four country children with you, and there is nothing suave and slick about it. The oldest starts wringing her hands in worry, and wondering, “How do we know we are on the right train?” “How do we know when to get off?” What happens if we get off at the wrong place? At every stop, she yelps “Is this where we get off?
The second born with his loud voice wonders about the excitement of the city. “WOW, THERE SURE IS NO GRASS IN THIS CITY!” “WOW MOM, THIS CITY SURE HAS A LOT OF LETTERS” “MOM, DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE PENGUINS AT THE ZOO?”
The third was her winning self, and when we stood to exit the train she proclaimed, “Yay, we’re at the jungle!” (Jungle = zoo??)

The zoo was fine. The kids truly did great. Jena did awesome, and she is so light, and when she got tired of her stroller it wasn’t a burden to carry her. We walked..and walked. We took pictures of every animal. I faithfully manned the camera until I realized the kids were expecting pictures of E.V.E.R.Y bird, land mammal and sea creature.  I handed the camera over to the children.

It was a fun day. We walked back to the Metro Station. It was Monday evening rush hour. We dragged/pulled/stacked our children into the corners of the train.  We trekked back to our hotel. Drove out of the parking lot, and decided to keep our promise to the children that we would find the president’s house.  We drove around Pennsylvania Avenue with our noses against the glass catching a glimpse of the White House as we cruised by. We bought ice cream sundaes for everyone as a treat. We pulled into our driveway at 10:30 p.m. with four sleeping children with chocolate smudged faces, and dirty feet. We dropped them into their beds.

I asked Gene if we would have known ahead of time how much walking and dragging of children the trip would have been, would we have done it? That is the beauty of a spontaneous trip- you don’t know what you’re going to get. I know this lack of planning isn’t for everyone, and I can miss a well-thought-out-planned-ahead trip. This impromptu trip though, I loved.

Farm Wonder Woman

Well, Gene is gone this week to hang drywall in Connecticut.  Apparently Connecticut does not have any sheet rock installers of their own. (Not complaining, just observing)

Gene’s mom and dad left for sunny Florida the same day.  Guess who is trying to hold it together here on the farm?  Yes me, who feels like a foreign invader when she steps into the cow stable. 

Once when we were dating and I came to visit Gene, I pulled into the lane and went into the house.  His mom told me” Oh Gene is in the pole barn, you can go find him.  I went outside and started crying because I had no idea what the pole barn was.  Seriously the phrase “fish out of the water” fits me on the farm perfectly.

So far since Gene left, Elena has had snow days, so it’s wild and wooly inside the casa.  Our dog has taken to running away (everyday so far).  The dear neighbors feed her treats and bring her back to her lovely life here.  Guess what? She literally jumps back into their car, begging them to take her back to their place.  It’s so embarrassing.  We are good people really, but our puppy seems to hate us.

Yesterday Gene called and asked that I “run the scrapers”.  That is farm lingo for “scrape the crappy manure pans in the chicken house, so the poop falls below into the manure pit”.  (Via switches, not manual labor)  Whenever he asks me to do something he has to include DETAILED instructions then field my brain-dead questions.  So I flicked the switches and ran into the chicken salesman at the same time.  I avoided his gaze because I was afraid he would ask me questions about chicken weights, and chicken house temperatures, and I didn’t want to display my ignorance.  All went well, and now I have ONE MORE thing in my repertoire that I can do!

Today Gene called, and said word had gotten back to him in Connecticut that we have a deathly sick new-born calf here on our farm, that needs two shots.  Would I be up for the task? “You Betcha” I said in my best Sarah Palin voice. 

Actually I moaned and shrieked into the phone.  “Really do you really think I can do that?”  He said very seriously: “I have no doubt that you can do it”.  He may have been bluffing, I don’t know, but it did my heart very good that he had that kind of confidence in me.

He talked me through how many ccs of which medicines. No sweat.  He said the way to do it is grasp the skin behind the calf’s leg (the armpit, if you will).  Pull the skin up and POW, insert the needle behind the skin.  I asked lots of questions:  Will the calf jump around and kick me? (No she’s too sick) Will other calf attack me while I’m in the pen? (No he might try to suck your fingers)  What if I insert the needle into the muscle, will the calf die? (No)

In the barn the calf is stretched out looking deathly.  Poor thing.  I fingered the armpit, pulling the skin. There is so much fur.  I gently poked at the skin with the needle thinking the needle will float effortlessly behind the skin.  The needle kept bouncing off.  Ok, I have to push it hard.  I was chanting “Help me God, help me God, help me God”.  Then I slowly manage to push it into the skin.  Yes slowly, this is not your doctor’s quick jam and retrieval.  The calf lets out a moan.  I let out a moan.  Oh dear God now I have to push the plunger thingy down. Quickly I yanked it out.  DONE. 

I can’t believe I just gave a calf two injections to help my husband out in a pinch.  I feel like a million bucks.  I made Gene promise to take me out when I get home as a repayment.  I’m not THAT ready to become farm wonder woman.