Visiting the Farm

My brother and sister-in-law live on a farm. They’ve been married even longer than Mr. GG and me, so they are pretty well settled in. They raised their two sons in an old farmhouse, quite a ways from town (both those boys grew up to be lawyers), and after the boys left home, they built a new house on the property. My brother designed it, and my sister-in-law fine tuned it and decorated it, and that house looks great all nestled into the landscape. Their home is snug, and energy efficient, and there is a deck off the kitchen that overlooks one of the ponds. They used boards from the old barn on the walls of the family room. Everywhere you look there are interesting books, knickknacks, family pieces, and photographs.

My brother is a genius. Well, sometimes when that old sibling thing gets going, I call him an idiot savant. Because he is a….. gasp…. Republican. But he is my brother and I love him, so I forgive him. Just like he forgives me for being ditsy, a bit neurotic, and a …. gasp …. Democrat. Really, my brother is a genius. He can fix or build anything. He has machined parts for tractors in the Smithsonian. He collects steam tractors and bulldozers, and backhoes, and other heavy equipment. He fixes them. His shop is so big, he had to build an industrial size shed to hold it all. His technical library would make some universities weep.

I love visiting the farm. There are ponds, timber, and barn cats. My sister-in-law has one of the greenest thumbs ever, so the yard and gardens are amazing. On top of that, she is one of those gifted people who can make a focal point out of a broken chair and some graniteware pails. Very Martha Stewart. There is no point in hating her for this, she can’t help it. And besides, sometimes I steal her ideas. Oh yeah, she’s a great cook, too. Some people.

My brother and I had a pretty idyllic childhood. We grew up in town, but we spent weekends and vacations visiting relatives in the country or fishing in the north woods of Wisconsin and Canada. We fished and hunted and often had a tub of minnows or tadpoles or crawdads in the yard. We had family wienie roasts every fall. We had a huge garden at my aunt’s farm and we learned to pick tomato worms off plants, dropping them into a can of kerosene. We had to pick and snap beans for canning. My dad used to wake us up on nights when there was a thunderstorm, so we could go out and collect earthworms. He kept the earthworms in a can in the fridge till our next fishing trip. We had a rowboat at the lake. We collected morels, hickory nuts and wildflowers in the woods. We gigged carp. Every year we freed a clutch of quail in my uncle’s timberland.

Oh yeah. Happy Days.

Well, I grew up and moved away from home, but my brother stayed in the area, and I think he pretty much expanded or recreated our childhood. When I visit, I hike in the woods, sit on the deck and watch fish jump in the pond, and if I get up early enough, I can see deer grazing on the hill across the pond before the mist burns off. My sister-in-law has trained their border collie to do a zillion tricks, so he is always good for some entertainment. They let me pick morels, or hull black walnuts to make brownies. I always check to see if I can still handle a fly rod. They stock the pond with bass and perch, and if he’s in the mood, my brother will drop everything to catch a few for the barn cats who follow him around.

Because of my brother, the Baby learned to fish and shoot a gun, and find out what poison ivy looks like. He showed her hedgeballs, huge green warty looking fruit from the Osage Orange tree. People in Illinois put hedgeballs in their basements to repel mice. I think the Baby lugged a hedgeball to show and tell in Idaho. He let her name cats. Well, sort of. Their cats tend to be orangish, and my sister-in-law was calling one little guy “Ritz”, because he was the exact shade of the cracker. My brother thought that was a stupid name, so he told the Baby she could name it. After exchanging a sly look with her aunt, the Baby ruminated and told him she thought the cat looked like a “Princess Snowflake”. Sooooo. Ritz, it was.

I love visiting the farm. I love my family. In fact, should Armageddon arrive, I have informed them that we will be making our way to Illinois so we can move in with them and live off the land. Right now my brother is checking into solar energy so he can get off the grid. I told you he was a genius.


One Response to “Visiting the Farm”

  1. PQ Sister Says:

    What a good brother. You should mention the copper rose as he is artist as well as genius.

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