There are unspoken rules in the country.
I think it’s one of the reasons my kids love visiting their grandparent’s rural farm. Once we get there, we rarely leave.
The farm is isolated and it’s quite a trip to big city conveniences. They raise beef and have two enormous gardens. The days are planned around four-wheeler rides and huge home-cooked meals.
There are blood-sucking ticks, poisonous copperhead snakes and pond fish the size of small dogs. There is enough dirt to fill a landfill and enough wind to keep a thousand kites in the air. For every person at the farm, there are double the amount of mud-caked boots lining the porch. Of course, they are turned upside down to keep snakes and deadly spiders out.
You could say it’s a little different from our normal life.
If you would have told me fifteen years ago when I was contemplating joining this family that I would enjoy this, I would have laughed. Out loud.
But I do. I even have my own rubber boots for the farm. They are hot pink.
There are many rules at the farm, according to my kids. These guidelines were not taught or studied or even spoken aloud. And yet they stand, firmly, like the bulls in the pasture. You don’t challenge them.
From my kid’s perspective:
- You do not change your clothes because they are dirty, mud-splattered, damp from pond water or smeared with cow manure. It is the farm. It is enjoyed more if you are dirty.
- You haven’t really had a successful trip to the farm unless you have a chigger or black gnat bug bite.
- Coffee and sweet tea are offered to children of all ages, especially infants and toddlers who have never had it before.
- Everyone on the farm participates in a tick check every evening after baths. It is a mandatory requirement. If you are lucky enough to have a blood-sucking vermin attached to your skin, you have had a great day and are patted on the back and offered Grandma’s special itching ointment.
- Petting, holding and kissing un-vaccinated farm cats and dogs is acceptable on the farm.
- Pointy sticks that would poke your eyes out at home are perfectly harmless. Watching the baby of the family use said stick to dip in the dog’s water bowl and then lick, only brings laughter from adults.
- Finding a box turtle, carving your initials in its shell and writing your name on it with a Sharpee marker before letting it go, is better than visiting Disneyworld. Any day.
- Traipsing through muddy ponds in rubber boots, crawling under barbed-wire fences, digging the fruit worms from rotten peaches only heightens your farm experience.
- Eating a raw, unwashed onion from your Grandpa’s garden spade is awesome.
- Your Grandma’s home cooking and baking is so much better than your Mom’s that you mention it at least 4 times at every meal while staying at the farm. You also clean your plate and declare asparagus from the garden to be your new favorite food.
- Your visit to the farm is not complete without discovering a discarded, smelly turtle shell or some other animal carcass (a.k.a farm treasure) to take home and place on your dresser for the next 3 months.
- Sitting still through Sunday church with 37 other country church-goers and 9 special songs is not a problem.
- As you drive away in your dirt-covered car, sobbing, you continue until you see your parents get out their calendar and plan the next visit to the farm.