Friday, April 19, 2013

Spring Break and Child Labor

Happy spring y'all!!! Every year around this time I question whether or not this whole homesteading thing is for me. Every winter I get to be lazy and sit around and read lots of books and knit stuff and be self indulgent. I usually put on a few extra pounds and enjoy doing so! Hmmmm, cheese. And then spring comes; usually it seems to happen over night and I'm never ready to get up off the couch and begin the long haul to harvest. In anticipation of my self imposed pre-spring apathy, Nik took a week off work to help me get the 'stead into shape. The kids also had week off.

We started the week with the arrival of 9 yards of dirt. Now when I look at 9 yards of dirt I think, oh crap that's gonna be a lot of work. When kids look at 9 yards of dirt they think, oh crap! I'm gonna build tunnels and caves and live in that mound for as long as mom'll let me! Which is what Josh, Jason, Stella and about 6 other neighbor kids did. Jason built this crazy awesome tunnel and cave in the center of the mound and proceeded to fill it with snacks, juices and sleeping paraphernalia. And every night he begged me to let him sleep in it. The kicker is that it rained a whole bunch and his boy cave became more of a mud room then the awesome chill zone that he had intended. Throughout the week I'd find random kids, mine and everybody else's, with no shirt or shoes on, wallowing in the mud pile. We're a dirty influence on those nice neighbor kids! Eventually we got all that nice dirt to where it needed to be, namely Nana's yard, to fill all the duck dug holes. We also created this neat little stream and some swales and berms to help direct the water instead of letting it constantly flood us.Whitney Houston (the goat, not the songstress) kept getting out of the Habitat and devouring our neighbors' beautiful food forest, so we had to rebuild about 200 feet of fencing. Before our help arrived, in-laws and kids, Nik and I spent a good two hours "discussing" how we should proceed to put the fence together. I had just finished with an especially witty quip about fencing etiquette when I slipped and fell into the biggest pile of duck poop, EVER! Unfortunalty, the way that I fell encouraged my face to land softly, in said duck poo. I'd rather not gross anyone out, but I have to admit that I ingested enough of my share of duck excrement. Ewww! Needless to say, Nik felt so bad that he let me have my way and the fence got done like I wanted it to. I like to call that feminine prowess.
Half way through the week Nana got an additional 9 yards of gravel to re-gravel the driveway with. I think that I must be innately lazy because looking at that huge pile of gravel and anticipating the work of spreading it, about made me soil myself. Fortunately, Nik and the kids are easy to bribe. The kids required money and Nik's request was adult in nature. Both easily granted! We had some help from my good friend Jess with the gravel but Josh was being such a butt that I think I spent the majority of the time chastising him. He's almost 13 and boy oh boy has he learned to complain! Not from me, I assure you; he probably picked up a few pointers from Nana. At one point I had to threaten to bury the boy up to his neck in compost in order for him to continue to shovel. Not that I would have done it, mind you, but I was tempted! At one point he took the time to research child labor laws and vigorously tried to convince me that I was unlawful in my direction of labor, with regards to him and his brethren. His point was so passionately argued that I consented to offer him a "working" wage, to be redeemed at the end of the week in the guise of a "reward". Their reward was a trip to Wunderland with enough money to see a movie, indulge in some sugary snacks and play the video games.

Because I have given up driving (I'm never ever going to drive again), we had to take the bus with all the kids. Oh man did I get us in over our heads! I often walk or take the bus with my own children and it's usually a pretty laid back experience. We each bring a book and money, each child accountable for themselves, under my direction. We invited the 5 kids that had helped so much during the week and each one of them had a little zip lock baggie containing the money he had earned in addition to bus fare. None of these kids had taken the bus before and they were all excited for the journey to begin. I felt like a mama goose walking her goslings to the water for the first time. It was idyllic, for all of about 10 seconds. One kid would go one way while another went the other, both into an oncoming car or rabid dog or off a cliff. 4 kids lost their bus money and I had to scrounge to find more. One kid tried to hide behind a tree as we herded them onto the bus, in the midst of a temper tantrum. Another tried to sit on a homeless man's lap while his buddy pulled the guys' grayish mustache. The one little guy that was just calming down from his tantrum mode asked an elderly lady if she was an "antique". All the while there's another of my little angels pulling the stop cord over and over and over. And then Nik starts singing "The wheels on the bus", loudly. All on the 8 minute ride into downtown Milwaukie.
    Needless to say, I don't think I'll be attempting this sort of excurs
ion again. The highlights include fights between boys, the mooning of buses, attempted run amuck-ness, picking gum up off the ground and trying to chew it, open viewing of highly intoxicated individuals followed by loudly worded questions. All in all, good times. What really matters is that all the kids had fun and I honestly hope they did, they all deserved it. In essence, spring is chaos, right?