A group of us spent the day with Father K (who used to be the assistant priest at St. Agnes before heading off to greener pastures) visiting his family farm, a nearby dairy farm and some wind mills. It was a great day, the kids had a wonderful time and they were thoroughly exhausted before we even made it out of town. My 83 year-old aunt was along for the ride and even she had a good day on the farm.
My mother was raised on a farm and I grew up visiting the farm quite often. I never anticipated that there would come a day when there wasn't a farm in the family. But, farming is not an easy way of life in some respects, even though my aunt and I agreed it provides for a close family since you typically are with each other most of the day, take all your meals together, pray together and are there for each other through thick and thin. Granted, a little too much togetherness isn't good, but my mother's family, like Father K's, is very close and I am blessed to have been raised in this atmosphere.
Over the weekend, I spent a good deal of time with my MIL and then my PIL came to the Fall Festival at St. Agnes to get some of the booya (when I lived in Washington, no one knew what booya was -- it's kind of like a stew). I know I bash my poor MIL, but having spent the weekend with her and then spending the day with my aunt and Father K's family, it was quite a contrast.
Father K and his family were so gracious to share their day and their farms with us and to provide us with a wonderful meal. Mrs. K is so warm and welcoming, and was so happy to provide a lovely, warm dinner for about 40 strangers. Her joy was infectious and aside from the fun of seeing the farms and sharing the experiences with my children, the thing I took away from the day is how she was truly happy serving others.
This really boosted my spirits after a weekend of political grumblings between my husband and my MIL. My MIL plans to vote for Obama because of his stand on abortion, saying as a justification, "Not everyone has had the opportunities that you have had." I was so weary of the discussions by the end of the weekend, thoughts of not wanting my kids to be around her were flitting through my head. I know staying away from her isn't the solution and I didn't like feeling this way...just illustrating my complete frustration and utter dismay and sadness at her position.
I said to my husband that my MIL should spend just one hour with Mrs. K and I think she would, at least, see a little bit of the joy that was so evident in Mrs. K's life, a mother of nine who couldn't do enough to go out of her way for others.
A breakdown of the day
I had to get the kids up early to get on the road and head to southern Minnesota with a few other homeschooling families. We first stopped at a dairy farm and learned a little about the operation: 1000 cows milked three times a day, 365 days a year. Aside from the owners and some of their adult children, they have 20 other farm hands that help milk the cows all day long in three shifts. ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. I remind my husband of this every time he gets the romantic notion to become a farmer. We also got to see a bunch of cows in their feeding area and go through the calf barn and see two calves that had just been born that morning. Pretty amazing.
Next was Mass at the church where Father K was baptised and grew up attending. Then to his parents' house for a lunch of ham, au gratin potatoes, baked beans, etc., etc., etc., and oodles of cookies and treats. Such hospitality and graciousness!
Almost lost the kids when Father K took us downstairs to show us the chapel. The kids were all outside in the backyard playing. When we were done with the tour, I returned outside to find my kids as our group was packing up to head to the pig farm. My kids weren't playing with the other large group of kids any longer. They were no where. There was a wooden bridge over a small creek in the well wooded backyard and that's the only place I figured my kids would've gone. Just as a search party was about to be deployed to look for my kids, other moms realized some of their children were missing and then someone mentioned that the saintly Mrs. K had taken some of the children on a nature hike into the woods. All returned safely and we were off to the pig farm.
First, we stopped at one of the MANY wind mills in the area for a closer look. My husband is very interested in wind energy and keeps looking into getting a wind mill for our cabin. Can't imagine we could ever get a permit for such a monstrosity...shucks. But, the real kicker is the farmer across the road from the wind mill saw our group out in the field looking at the wind mill and happened to have a key. He came over and let us all into the base of the wind mill, which I knew would make hubby jealous that he wasn't there to experience it.
Then we were off to the pig farm where our noses were assaulted by the smell of pigs. We saw a few new mothers with their babies and my kids got to hold one of the piglets. Then onto the older pig barn and then the really big pig barn. All so stinky that it gave me a slight head ache. And, my husband said he could smell it in my son's hair when he was putting him into bed!
Then the kids got a tour of the farm and some of the equipment, and then got to ride in a combine and a tractor as they made a very long pass through the corn.
My son was asleep as soon as he got in the car and my daughter was asleep as soon as we drove out of town. We skipped the group dinner at a restaurant because it was getting late and my kids were completely exhausted. Waking them up to stop for dinner wouldn't have been a wise or prudent course of action considering how tired they were! Made it home around 8:30pm, just in time to get the kids into bed.
Thoroughly enjoyable and thoroughly exhausting. It was a beautiful day with good friends and gracious hosts. My son has asked me at least three times when are we going to go back!