It’s Hot and There’s Bugs!

by Stefani on 12-May-2008

Farmer Boys

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.

Sweet Spring

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?”

Diggin' Taters

Their Haul

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?”

Berry Fiend

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.

jessica May 12, 2008 at 8:56 pm

Goodness, and we can’t even plant yet up here! Can’t wait!

Lynn May 12, 2008 at 10:26 pm

I had big reservations when my three-year-old requested bright yellow Crocs, but boy, am I happy now!! (It’s killing said three-year-old that our strawberries are taking so long to pop out of the flowers and turn red, bless him!)

Kim May 12, 2008 at 10:51 pm

If we ever manage to live in an agricultural zone again, I will gleefully drag my children off on similar adventures. Heck, we’ll plant our own and I’ll subject them to daily torture. Until then (we live in a concrete city) I will keep your story in mind, and when they’re a little older, I’ll read it to them, in hopes of sparking an interest in berry-picking, potato-digging, and shoe-tossing. Hmmm, maybe not so much the latter…

jean May 13, 2008 at 4:54 am

it IS hard work! and they’ll grow up appreciating it. and comparing berries? what a wise lesson that is. there is nothing as sweet as a berry just picked, still holding its warmth from the sun.

molly May 13, 2008 at 5:04 am

my california berries are white inside while my locals are sweet and red all the way through.

the throwing the croc across the rows of berries had me laughing (all alone, sitting in front of my computer screen…) I love that kind of emotion, especially b/c I see it all day around here…you know what I’m going to say next, don’t you? about the blueyonder boys and the mollycoddle girls, right??

Mama Urchin May 13, 2008 at 5:05 am

It’s a rite of passage don’t you think, the indentured servitude of childhood. My mom and I were just saying we need to start planning for cherry picking in June.

Sugar Creek Farm May 13, 2008 at 5:41 am

Hee hee, reminds me of what I’d say to my girls when they’d complain about having their hair combed… “Beauty isn’t pretty!”

Tracy May 13, 2008 at 6:06 am

I remember strawberry picking with my grandmother when I was little. It was miserable. I complained too. Hot, sweaty, bugs, all of the same. But I loved it.

Sarah May 13, 2008 at 6:16 am

LOL Sounds just like Jack, refuse to do it, then love it when it is over.

melmo May 13, 2008 at 6:23 am

I love the portrayal, the honesty in the grumbles, your patience in waiting them out, and then their coming around in the end. May I learn from your example.

Amy May 13, 2008 at 8:29 am

I was just like your kids. Hating it and loving it at the same time. I try to remind myself of that as I haul a screaming child home from the park.

PS Now I understand why you were cutting so many strawberries.

erin May 13, 2008 at 8:40 am

sounds like our berry picking excursions! it’s hot. i love taking kate, though. she doesn’t eat the berries so she’s the best picker by far.

Jennifer May 13, 2008 at 8:46 am

I was always told that the small berries are the sweetest. We love Sweet Berry Farm, don’t those boxes look smaller outside? They seem bottomless when you bring them in to wash and freeze them.

marisa May 13, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Oh, it is so refreshing to hear that someone else’s kids complain when they try to have a fun outing!

YayaOrchid May 13, 2008 at 4:36 pm

What a great post! Very good illustration of how wonderful the outdoors is for kids, and how farm livin’ is healthy living! Sure wish I could buy berries like that here. Yumm!!

Kristy May 13, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Yeah, what’s up with the beautiful, BIG berries that are white and tasteless on the inside? It’s cruel trickery, I’m telling you.

Thought #2:

My goodness gracious you write well.

michelle May 14, 2008 at 4:04 am

I’m terrible at picking berries—I pick for the bucket, but mostly for my mouth! Then I feel terrible and usually have to tell the person weighing the berries ‘yeah, um so I ate at LEAST this many (gesturing to incredibily large bucket) so you might want to ring me up double for these because I simply cannot resist sun warmed berries.’

I’ve been rung up double and laughed off and told don’t worry about it, that they fully expect that to happen. I’m afraid to bring my family along because I don’t want to have to say ‘yeah, um so we ate at LEAST three buckets worth….’

I’d love to dig potatoes though! I’ve always wondered…when you dig them up is the plant then destroyed? Do you have to cut the potato off? Or does it sort of just ‘fall’ off???

Maria May 14, 2008 at 1:26 pm

Beautiful photos..and what they said (above)…I esp. love the last photo as it looks the same as my dd’s strawberries after she’s ate them…strawberry season will be a while for us up here in the NE US! Can’t wait!

ernabeytut May 15, 2008 at 3:51 pm

lovely story…
can’t wait till our berries turn red..

Patty Thomas May 15, 2008 at 9:56 pm

There is a difference between grocery store california berries and the local stand berries. From someone that lives in Cali we prefer the ones from the local fields too. Much better! The big growers produce the firmer berries so they survive shipping all over the US. The varieties we like that are fresh from the smaller fields are too tender for that.

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