Tag Archiv: boys

March Buzz

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You can see at least a few of the bodies here.

 

The business of bees nags at my brain. I want a sugar alternative, I want kids on fire for living things, and I like us learning whenever possible. People tell you to expect nothing for honey harvest in year one, while simultaneously telling you how much honey their uncle Harold, neighbor Frieda, and son, Billy, got their first years. We did not become a story like Billy; our first year we got zero.

I discovered in early January that the winterizing of the hives had not been done properly. Exits and ventilation are as important for bees as they are for people. One hive seemed ok. The other had both entrances inadvertently sealed. I removed hundreds of dead bodies and ice and settled into hopelessness. I mentally pronounced hive A dead and the hive B potentially terminal.

February broke all kinds of weather records for average cold, most consecutive cold days . . . This past weekend saw warmer temperatures. Despite the sunshine, I walked with heavy steps through snow higher than my boots (or knees) to make myself look at the hives.

“Good news!” I told my husband afterwards. “There were dead bodies all over the snow.”

I had hoped to see a bee or two fly out into the sunshine (they use the warm days to relieve themselves). I didn’t see that, but I did see a lone bee fly. Granted, she flew straight to the snow and committed frozen harakari . . . but before that she flew.

“It’s kind of weird,” said my husband, “when you say, ‘good news,’ because you discovered dead bodies and witnessed a suicide.”

But good news it is. Dead bodies on the ground mean the girls inside are alive and cleaning house. Should the buzz continue into spring, I’ve made some resolutions in celebration of hope’s resurrection:

  1. We’ll buy better bee protection. Winterizing would have been done better if we weren’t so sick of getting stung.
  2. I’ll give up expecting the boys to own the bee project. We all find the bees exciting. The boys are willing to work and willing to get stung. For the foreseeable future, they aren’t going to carry the emotional burden, initiate anything, or wake in the night with what they’ve forgotten to do. I can own the project or we can quit. I can be bitter about what my bee men aren’t doing or be happy for what they are.

With dreams of project watching gone, I am officially the project manager. May the eventual honey sweeten the gaps in working style among the partnership. I’ve got the ability to make myself do what I don’t feel like doing at a particular moment because it needs to be done and the notion that the pursuit of ongoing knowledge is required.  The boys are actually much more comfortable handling the bees than I am. We could do worse for a combined skill set.

Buster and Boys

I took the picture of Buster eating this year's Christmas tree two weeks ago. He has it down to a trunk with little six inch nubs now.

Buster eating this year’s Christmas tree two weeks ago. He has it down to a trunk with little six inch nubs now.

Boy one came in from the barn Friday night to ask for help. Buster had gotten into one of the stalls in the barn. When Boy one tried to shoo him out, Buster went the other direction and tried to jump the divider into the next stall.

I arrived to find Buster oddly tipped on his front legs, his back hooves not quite touching the ground and the weight of his back end held up by the two-by four running underneath him tight up against the his haunches. Slaps and pokes were useless. Boy one tried a screw driver to take down the rail. I tried to shove a bale of straw up to where Buster could put his back feet on it and finish the ill planned leap, but he just couldn’t do it.

We solved it with Boy talking to Buster while I sawed through the rail, wondering if he’d be able to walk properly after all that hanging around in the air while we tried to figure things out. The board finally gave way. Buster got his feet back and went to find his mother.

In my experience, boys find it important to share these kinds of things with their mother.

Boy two found me alone recently.

I licked the tractor again, he said.

It’s -20°C, I said.

I know, he said. I lost a taste bud and my tongue hurts. I don’t know why I do it, but sometimes I just have to.

 

He often serves on the altar at our church. After a service a few weeks ago he caught me.

I have this idea, he said. I think they should have the ALT OLYMPICS, like altar server, get it?

I pictured earnest children evaluated by adults with checklists for attention to detail, surprised at Boy two’s enthusiasm. Was he beginning to value the importance of being careful despite the tedious nature of details?

For the opening ceremonies, he said, everyone comes out in the robes from their church. Then for the competitions, everyone does the fifty yard dash but they have to hold candles while they run. For the hurdles, they have to jump over pews instead. I haven’t figured out all the events yet. Maybe they could throw an incense boat or something for shot put, I don’t know.

Obviously, we are headed for great things.

Boy one cannot begin his work until he has had a proper amount of time to talk about it. Saturday he was inspired (while reclining) towards a future business endeavor.

Listen to this, he said. In University, I’m going to get some other guys and we’ll start a company. Man Maids. We’ll clean for people, watch their kids, whatever. I bet we’ll have so much business. They’ll hire us because the name is cool and because we’ll look so muscular.

Indeed.

Boy Man

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Tucked in among the surprises of the past week was a gift from Boy one. Bold, cocky boy with the never ending words was quiet, almost bashful coming into the room.

I made something for you, he said.

The last thing he made me was a sign for Christmas two years ago. Somehow in the chaos of Christmas, it was lost before it ever made it to my door. I’m  not a thing person really, but over that I could still cry.

Here, he said. He handed me a string of beads on a piece of yarn. On one end I detected a lopsided cross. I twisted it around seeing how to make the cross lie flat and wondered if my head would fit inside the circle.

It’s a rosary, he said looking down. I made it for you, then I kept it for a while but I thought today maybe I should give it to you. I don’t make things very much. Not like the other kids.

I looked with curiosity through plastic beads to the boy. Sometimes with pride, sometimes with frustration, still for months upon months I have been seeing a young man in his gangly limbs and brooding eyes. All that wing flapping and splashing makes it hard to remember the boy inside it all, but I touched the beads and there he was. The boy he always has been. The boy we all are.

We visited my mother’s grave a few days ago. We took things the kids had made and decorated it. Sang a song, said some prayers, and had a snack. The kids didn’t like it that we undecorated before we left. My explanations about cemetery rules didn’t satisfy so I switched to theories about time.

Really smart people say it doesn’t exist, I said. Not like we think it does with past, present and future. If your treasures were here as a gift today, they’re always here now, even if we take them.

Maybe this is how we grow old without ever ceasing to be the child we were. However it works, I have translucent beads on multicoloured yarn between crooked knots from the boy who is taller than me, to remind me that it’s true. That for all our dreams of manhood, we pray and hope and love with the heart of a child.

In my pocket my fingers touch the beads softly. If I could hold on to the gift of this picture, with what gentleness could I see the world?

And if not that, at least the grace to hold this imageof my son.

 

Happy Men

First real hive inspection a week after the bees arrived.

First real hive inspection a week after the bees arrived.

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The book you can’t see the top of is “Bee Keeping for Dummies.” :)

 

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We don't know what we're doing but they know more than I do. Time will tell if we're meant to stay beekeepers or not but to date we have no regrets. The boys are very happy talking bees.

We don’t know what we’re doing but they know more than I do. I enjoy their fearless lack of worry about all the things they don’t know.

 

 

Mercy made known

Yesterday, the first day back from Christmas holidays, was a snow day. More accurately a rain and freezing day. The thought of a quiet house had grown to full blown longing when we saw the notice that the busses weren’t running. Alas.

Monday was also death day. I love the farm. I believe in animals that are happy and well cared for. It matters to us to know where the meat on our kids plates came from and what kind of quality of life those animals had. That doesn’t make the day the lambs go to the butcher any easier.

Everything about the send off was complicated on the icy narrow path that is our driveway at present. It wasn’t possible to get a truck out to the barn like usual. It wasn’t possible to do it all while the kids were at school. We worked together to make the driveway navigable. We worked together to get the sheep in the trailer. And we hissed and spat and growled at each other.

Afterwards I went to my room to plan boy one’s execution and to figure out how to get the house partitioned so that none of us had to live together. Eventually common sense and mercy found a crack large enough to get through. None of us had handled it perfectly, but we weren’t mad, we were sad. The first time I remember figuring this out, I was 18. It was a strange revelation. I felt like someone had struck me dumb. Sssso nnnnow what? I wanted to stammer. If it’s not sarcasm and rage that’s dying to get out, what then? If I’m sad and not mad, exactly am I supposed to do? Just sit here and cry?

Well, yeah.

I thought I’d already learned that lesson, but yesterday I learned it again . . . and helped my son figure it out too. Naming things correctly doesn’t change them, except it does. Understanding what I’m dealing with changes how I treat the people in my life, including me. Understanding what’s underneath somebody else’s mad, changes how I feel about them.

Sometimes being sad means you don’t do anything except let yourself be it for a little while. It feels like getting out of prison again.

Decisions on Hair

Long narrow face with long hair

Long narrow face with long hair

The kids haven’t had a haircut since before school started. It’s been two months since my last hair cut. It’s not a movement. I’ve been feeling cheap, and they’ve been wanting shaggy. Hair is not something I have a lot of opinions about. In fact, very few of my hopes and dreams have involved hair. Only one really. I wanted to grow my hair quite badly once in order to be a real Indian brave. My mother pointed out that I was only qualified to be a squaw. The fact that I am a girl has at times proved troublesome to me, but I ignored her narrow vision of my possibilities. In my dreams, I was already running barefoot in my long hair and loin cloth, bow and arrows in hand.

I have a grade four picture to prove that by the times I was nine, my hair had grown at least a little bit below my shoulders. When I was ten, my mother met a woman who had once been a model. I have since realized that this kind of person can be dangerous. My mother saw stars and a woman with qualifications.

Fifty-Something former model declared that my hair was all wrong for my face. There was a formula. My face was long and narrow. I needed short hair. My grade five school picture notes the change. Sometimes I would look and the mirror and try to see my face the way she saw it. This thing now bearing a description seemed deserving of inspection.

The next summer my face spoke to Fifty Something again. Straight hair did not suit. She could hear my long and narrow face saying, “permanent.”  All school pictures from there on are identical give or take an inch. I did not change my hair again until I was in my thirties, at which point I finally stopped getting permanents.

My girls admire extremely long hair. The only strong opinion I have about hair is that it shouldn’t be in your food when you are eating. I have therefore kept them in bangs against their wishes, until now. My boys have grown tired of the tidy cuts I like. So yes, my children’s hair desires landed in lock step with my budget cut backs this fall. We are all looking a little shaggy.

“I’m taking everybody in this week for a cut,” I finally say.

“Mom, please, no . . .please, please, please . . .”

“It’s cheaper this way,” whispers my wallet.

Their hair has been bugging me for weeks now. Friday, I finally snapped, but not the snapped where we finally get our hair cut.

We’re not going to the hair dresser. Any of us. The guy with a job can see his barber. The rest of us are growing our hair.

I expect mine in particular will look fairly awful, but I would rather have tried it than not. Before I cut it short again, maybe I’ll stuff a few marshmellows in my cheeks and see if it makes any difference.

 

The Misty saga

We don’t get things for the farm that we can’t eat. Pigs not fun anymore? The freezer awaits. We aren’t in France, so horses have been out. Until this year. Somehow a burning desire to give kids a great birthday equalled Misty. You really haven’t lived until you have picked up kids from school, driven them home and sent them to the barn to meet the horse they thought they were never getting.

Besides in-edibility, I didn’t want a horse because they’re scary. My research said that our kids would be able care for the horse themselves, so I put this aside. Even more compelling is the common knowledge that pioneer children raised ponies unaided from the age of 6 or 7, but I didn’t depend on history. I did research.

Here’s what the research did  and did not mention . . .

1. Thirteen year olds can take care of horses . . . if they have grown up with horses, understand them, and are comfortable taking authority when the horse disagrees.

2. Ten year olds can do a lot . . . if they don’t develop sudden onset terror of horses and refuse to leave the house on threat of torture or a trip to Goodwill to donate all their Lego.

3. You’d be surprised what an eight year old can do. . . you’d be surprised too, how contagious that sudden onset stuff is.

4. Five year olds can’t do much. I agree.

We had a choice. Give up on the best birthday present ever or get re-enforcements. This is how it stopped working that I only saw the horse from the kitchen sink.

Learning and working with thirteen year old is showing me a new side of him. We’ve never done anything like this together. We listen to advice from horse people, then try to apply it with Misty. He needs me, but he can do things I can’t. There’s nothing to argue about because we’re on the same team. More than anyone else, it is he and I that are spending the hours. Seven or eight extra hours in a week is a sacrifice for me, but it is for him too, and he isn’t complaining, so neither am I.

Eight year old was back on board the second I got involved. And she can do more than you’d think. Ten year old was delivered grumbling to mandatory horse lesson this weekend. Yesterday he helped with Misty for twenty minutes. This equals previous compliance times ten.

The hardest part, I tell my husband, is leading team horse, when I’m still afraid of horses.

You’re afraid of Misty? That’s so funny. She doesn’t bother me at all.

Says the man who only has to look at her in the field from fifty feet away because we need his time to do other things.

Originally, that was supposed to be my job.