Thanks Danny ! Or : Why I still don’t care for lawns.

Today, in an effort to truly (and productively) procrastinate and to pull my (pregnant) weight, I took on the job that no one, since the farm departure of our dear friend Danny, cares for. I got on the ride-on mower and proceeded to butcher our field of dandelions and tall wild grasses.

IMG_20150529_122523742

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am well served by my complete disregard for nice lawns. The first 15 minutes or so were entertaining (mostly because of our substantial terrain slopes and because the speeds on these mowers are indicated by turtles and hares) and then, I was brainstorming a business that would see me traveling about with a herd of small livestock to graze people’s lawns in lieu of mowing. (But I couldn’t come up with an animal that would be happy to graze, consistent enough in its grazing, and that produces small, sufficiently unobstructive poop. The cattle certainly won’t do on the poop front, the pigs would total the lawn (a blessing perhaps?), and the hens have a mind of their own and will always prefer seedlings and cherry tomato buds to lawn.)

It was a humbling experience though as I’ve chuckled at people on ride-on mowers more than once, and because apparently a very pregnant lady with a big sun hat on a mower, plowing through knee-high dandelions, is worth a good stare.

All this to say : big thanks to Danny for mowing and weed wacking all of last summer.

The lawn will surely be exponentially more uneven and unkempt this year.

our second farm spring

Today, I love this seeder as much as I love coffee.

IMG_20150518_162710817

Contending with a third trimester belly, a toddler who’s most likely suffering a UTI, some solid sleeplessness and a long weekend (i.e. farmer spouse keeps farm working, daycare provider has holiday), this thing is as cherished as it is rickety.

In other news, the spinach has come up nicely, the garlic made it through the winter, and the strawberry plants are slowly but surely growing too.

IMG_20150518_163258907 IMG_20150518_163325287 IMG_20150518_163407473

P. found a giant old culvert to replace the one that’s just not cutting it down in the valley, in part because we’re getting rid of the road soon.

IMG_20150516_201700354

Take that erosion and boot mud cakes! Who needs roads when you can have more pasture.

IMG_20150515_171358597

Also, our very handy summer farm help, J., has built three shade and shelter homes for the twenty-four piglets who’ll soon join our ménagerie.

IMG_20150516_201744091IMG_20150516_201804111

To say nothing of this gorgeous feeder.

IMG_20150516_201924538

Sadly, our barn cat problem is alive and well. When moving the last of the hay bales, P. found three kitten nests (which he moved to prevent them being trampled by the bull calves). Not sure how many will make it, and not sure how to solve this ongoing problem. Predictably, my strategy of giving them kibble is not having the desired effect of encouraging them all to relocate (in my defense, it did solve the problem of the sad looking hungry cats all over the place).

IMG_20150429_125936625

It would appear that the heyday of summer and farm work are upon us.

And ha!, juste comme ça, we’ve been living on this farm for a year now.

to be named.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been ranting a fair amount about my general dislike of the Franklin books to any parent of small children who will listen. Now, in all fairness, the story books aren’t that bad — some of them are a bit humourous (« Frankin Snoops, » par exemple), they have plot lines, and the fact that Franklin and his buddies are all different species, from snails to moose, means that there’s a fair amount in there about equity (not spelled out, but still). The boy and girl buddies are also of equal coolness, although the boy buddies far outnumber the girl buddies (à la Smurfette), and the textbook obnoxious know-it-all friend is, of course, a girl (à la Hermione Granger. Although I’ll concede that I might be reading too much into that one as Beaver isn’t called « bossy » in the books, unlike Herminone, who, arguably would be called « a strong leader » instead of « a bossy know-it-all » were she not a girl).

What really irked me about the books, other than the moralistic endings, was that Franklin’s friends don’t have names. They are called Bear, Beaver, Otter and so-on. This might be nice if a kid is just learning animal names, but crappy because the whole world revolves around this turtle, as though his friends don’t have identities of their own and just exist to be the buddies of this Named Turtle. A poor way to teach empathy to kids, I’d argue. How can you put yourself in your buddy’s shoes if your buddy doesn’t have a name? Not to be a stickler about it, but there’s a reason the right to a name is recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 7 : « You have a right to have a name and a nationality. »)

I had decided that my child’s love of this series was really not that huge a deal, and I could overlook its shortcomings to foster his lifelong love of books, so when I was doing my last big city library book run, I picked up some more Franklin books. Lo and behold, the books have been translated into French and our beloved English Franklin is also an adorable French Benjamin. But that’s not all : the characters in the French version all have names! Bear becomes Martin Ours, Snail becomes Arnaud Escargot, Beaver becomes Lili Castor, Badger becomes Odile Blaireau and so on and so forth. After reading the French version to F. for two days (and adopting the French names when reading, and translating, the English), he started talking about the other characters, which hadn’t been the case prior. True story. His race car driver figurine is now called Lili Castor and Arnaud is his « Where’s Waldo » when we’re reading the books.

All this to say that children’s books are sociologically fascinating (as are toddlers), and that if we don’t have a name for something–or someone–we cannot easily conceptualize it, talk or learn about it (think structural racism, think domestic violence, think transphobia, neocolonialism, food sovereignty, you name it. We think about it because it is named.) And there is no place for namelessness in children’s books.