Thursday, May 17, 2012

Issue 12: Nine months later...Baby #2 and a new house!

Having fun in the park for Layla's 8 month pictures!
A few months ago, I attended the Knox County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting with Grant. The guest speakers were two young farm moms that were taking part in the Illinois Farm Families Program. The program works with city moms from Chicago, who they call "field moms," to educate them on farm life, livestock practices, where food comes from, planting and harvesting practices, and everything else in between. With all the myths and false information out there, IL Farm Families is working to bring truth into the homes (and onto the tables) of those who are removed from the farm lifestyle. They had recently visited Chicago to go out to dinner with the city moms to discuss farming and the farming lifestyle. The stories they told about the city moms and questions that were asked made me realize that if I hadn't married Grant, I would have been a city mom, just like the women they were talking about. I remember my first visits on the farm, the questions I asked, and the myths that were dispelled right away (all farms don't smell, grain isn't just wheat, farmers don't wear cowboy hats, a farm is definitely different than a ranch, etc). Now a farm mom myself, I knew that I’d fit right in with the program. I have the experience of growing up in the Chicago suburbs and living in the city, I have almost five years experience of living on a farm with a farmer husband (has it really already been five years?!), and I’m a mom of two beautiful farm babies.

After sending and receiving a few emails, I heard good news: I was invited to write for the IL Farm Families Blog. Along with other farmers, farm moms, and “field moms,” I would write a blog post for their website on anything that has to do with farming, our lives on the farm, my experience as a city turned country girl…you name it. I was notified this week that I was up; it was my turn to write a post, so I got typing. Since we are in the midst of planting season—actually, we are in a lull waiting for the fields to dry after all this rain so Grant can get planting again—I decided to write about our recent trip to visit Daddy in the field. I intended to compare it to visiting my dad at his Labor Hall and how excited I would get to spend a day with my dad, run around his meeting hall, type on the computer, play with the toys he kept in a closet for me, bang on the piano on the stage in the hall, and hang out with his secretary. Unlike my experience visiting my dad, Gavin got to visit his Daddy in the tractor and sit on his lap, pretend to drive, look out the windows at the turning wheels, and try to touch the computer screens and buttons. He had a smile glued on his face the entire time (well, actually, only until we had to stop him from touching the screens and pushing buttons that would make loud noises in return). While my blog post started off with that idea, it quickly changed to “Firsts” on the farm…the things that we are experiencing as a family (like Gavin’s first tractor ride of the season) and what our babies are learning.

Christmas time at our new house
And if you haven’t heard, after this past harvest and Layla’s arrival, we moved off the farm and into a small neighborhood closer to Peoria. We are not in a town, but rather in between two small towns. Our subdivision is located behind a huge horse farm and tucked between corn fields and an IL State Park. So, we are still in the “country,” according to a city person’s definition, but it’s not as far away from Peoria. I have a shorter drive to work, the kid’s babysitter, grocery store, park, shopping, doctor’s office, play dates, etc. Grant now makes the 30 minute commute to the farm, and we try to visit at least once a week either after school or on the weekends. Although I miss the star-filled sky and the peacefulness of living on a farm, I’ve been enjoying our walks throughout our neighborhood, taking care of our new, beautiful house and yard, and meeting neighbors who also have small children. It’s also more convenient for date nights in terms of finding babysitters and the ease of going out to dinner or with friends—I think we’ve been on more dates in the last five months then we did in the almost-five-years of living out on the farm.

Hanging out on the farm...8.5 months old already!
When people heard we moved, they were worried that Farm Notes would come to an end. To that, I respond that Farm Notes will never end! Farming and the farm itself will always be a part of our blood and who we are as a family. One of the reasons that attracted me to Grant was his work ethic, the pride and care he takes in tending to his crops and land, and the dedication he has to feeding families around the world. This is something I am proud to teach my children! While we may not live on the farm anymore, our lives still revolve around farming, and our children will spend countless hours helping Daddy in the tractor, learning about and raising livestock, and I’m sure eventually beg us to spend nights on the farm at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. (More date nights for us!) And hopefully, you’ll be with us along the way, reading about our adventures in life and parenthood that take place out here in farm country.

To read my Illinois Farm Families blog post, click the link or continue to read below…

“Firsts” on the Farm

As we drove by a tractor this fall, my 1-year-old son cried out, “Tractor, Daddy, Papa!” and started crying. He desperately wanted out of his car seat and into the random tractor where he assumed Daddy or Papa would be. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I never imagined that some of my son’s first words would be associated with a farm. Like most children, many of his first words are things he sees on a daily basis, such as a “truck” or “tractor,” even though his new thing is to call every vehicle a “car”—my husband says that’s “his mom rubbing off on him.” (Before I moved to the country, I too called every vehicle a car; I’ve learned over the past five years that cars, SUVs, trucks, and pickups are all vehicles, not simply “cars,” and that I need to distinguish between them if I want to look like I know what I’m talking about…which I admit, sometimes I’m lost when it comes to farming lingo.) My son also knows all his farm animal sounds and recently has started to call every animal he sees in a field “a horse”; we think it’s pretty funny but are quick to correct him and tell him that it’s a cow or a pig instead, which is followed by the correct sound that animal makes.

Gavin's 1st tractor ride of the season
So, when it came time for our son’s first tractor ride this planting season, you can only imagine his excitement. I was also eager for a tractor ride since I hadn’t seen my husband for a few days. There are days and weeks that go by without seeing him due to his early mornings and very late nights. Unless it rains, it could be a week or two where Daddy only comes home to sleep and leaves before the sun is up to get back in the tractor. On those mornings when my son’s first waking word is, “Daddy?” I respond with, “Daddy took his truck to go work in the tractor.” And even when I ask him during the day, “Where’s Daddy?” he answers, “Truck, work, bye bye.” Yes, I know, he’s a smart one! Even though he may not see his Daddy every day during planting or harvest, I am sure to remind him that he is farming—a job that some day he will share with his Daddy, “Papa” (his grandpa), and hopefully, “Gramps” (his great-grandfather).

Lovin' it!
I was sure to capture the “1st Tractor Ride of the Season” on camera and text pictures to my family in the suburbs so they could also see the father-son farming taking place. Although my roots are planted in the suburbs, I’ve sown news ones here in the country, and I enjoy watching my now 1.5-year-old son and 8-month-old daughter grow up around farming. I am proud of my husband and the care he takes when planting and harvesting the land, and I know our years of raising children will be filled with more “firsts” around the farm…for them and for me.

Kristen Strom
Brimfield, IL

1 comment:

  1. Thanks once again my dear Kristen for sharing your stories for my enjoyment, from a Country Girl gone City and misses all the enjoyments of country living. Can't express enough how much I enjoy reading your experiences of Country Life. Love you all and so excited to see everyone this summer.

    Love, Aunt Rhonda