My oldest was just over a year old when we first took him to Sweet Berry Farm. We have been every year since, and every year it’s the same… red fingers and faces, sweaty brows and grubby legs, sore backs and thighs, mental notes of things to remember next year (note to self: sun screen, bottled water, a cooler for the berries’ long ride home, cold wet rags for cooling necks and faces), and the same refrain, “It’s hot, and there’s bugs!”
My children (with gobs full of berries, mind you) like to make it known how miserable they are, how cruel I am to make them work so hard, how much they despise farm life.
Ryder told me, in the field, that this was his “worst day ever!” He promptly took off his camouflage crocks and hurled them across rows of berries – his version of a labor strike. It took five people FOREVER to find one of those shoes. (Another note to self: never buy camo shoes again, red, or blue, but not camo!). Nana even resorted to offering up a cash prize to the boy who found Ryder’s shoe. Unfortunately for them, she was the one who found it.
When we filled all our berry buckets, and I suggested we do something new and exciting – dig potatoes – they all moaned and groaned and followed me down the row as though I were leading them to certain death.
But they dug, and they were earnestly impressed with real live produce under the dirt – for a few seconds they were impressed, before the bellyaching began anew. “You’re going to wash them before we eat them, right? Do we HAVE to eat them?”
For all that complaining though, after we got home, and cooled off, drank a gallon a piece of water, peeled off sweaty clothes and stood under cool showers for far too long, do you know what I heard?
“When will the blackberries be ready for picking Mama?”
“Yeah Mama, and when will the peaches and blueberries be ready?”
They can’t wait to go back.
They talk endlessly over the dinner table about how “we dug those potatoes Daddy! Right out of the dirt! They’re really good, huh?”
They’ve been playing “farmer”, discussing just what they would plant and who would do the picking. Both of these things are under ongoing negotiation, but one fact is clear – the chickens are relegated to “bug patrol”.
When my guys, in all their farm planning, need a snack, they run in and out of the kitchen for handfuls of berries to carry outside, hollering as they run off “Aren’t these the sweetest berries ever?”
And it’s true, they are. We bought a basket of California berries at the store today, just to do a taste test, and while those were bigger and prettier than ours, our little berries packed WAY more taste.
That’s kind of the moral of the story I guess – you have to endure a little ugly, to get to the sweet.