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January 14, 2018
Getting Kids Outside
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Every now and then the Farmer and I wax philosophic. Sometimes we talk about the future of the farm, or we discuss politics, our parents, the neurosis of our dog and of course the weather. But more often than not we talk about our kids. This morning as the rays of the sun began to reach through the trees, crossing the meadow to land on our pillows we cuddled, avoiding the inevitable bone-chilling shock of getting out of bed.
Even though the temperature this morning was ten degrees, the cloudless sky still begs for us to spend time outdoors. That’s when we started to talk about our kids. And how hard it is to get them outside, even though we live on 90 acres. Well, that’s not entirely true, our 7 year old leaps outside any chance she gets, but she doesn’t have a smartphone or access to any device whatsoever including a TV, except at bedtime.
The teen boy is another story. In fact, ever since he started reading, his outdoor leisure time dwindled dramatically. Adding a smartphone to his life a year ago seemed to make the indoors more appealing, even though he has no social media apps, no web browsing and no gaming on his phone. Spotify, texting and email still possesses his attention at the expense of the cultivation of creativity that comes when a youthful imagination has only nature as it’s medium, or maybe paper, pencil and paint.
In the middle of this conversation, when my own smartphone delivered an article on the subject of smartphones and kids to my inbox, I couldn’t but help acknowledge the irony of the phone in my hand, at an early hour, delivering a message agreeing with our discussion that smartphones are owning our attention spans, for better and for worse.
Here are some highlights from the Wall Street Journal article: Parents’ Dilemma: When to Give Children Smartphones:
Almost 75% of teens, age 13-18 have access to smartphones, according to a 2015 study by Pew Research Center.
Average time spent staring at their screens? 9 hours per day, not counting school hours or homework. Yikes! Can you imagine how proficient these kids would be at a musical instrument if they spent half that time practicing each day?
The average number of times they unlock their phones is 95/day. How much time is spent per year in the simple act of unlocking our phones?
Tech companies are investing big bucks in the effort to lure kids (and adults of course) into spending more time in front of screens glued to their favorite apps. Stock prices rise as our kids get more and more invested, and possibly addicted to their screens.
Of course their are many benefits to the mobile phone, that may or may not outweigh the drawbacks. More time and data is needed to accurately assess the value vs damage of the smartphone on the education of our children.
No matter what, phones are here to stay. It is up to parents to help their children find balance, and to be brave about saying no. Perhaps the simplest answer is to take our children outside, as a family, to go into the woods, or work in a garden, go skiing, throw ball, raise pigs or hike a mountain. Nature strengthens the will, relieves the spirit and feeds the soul. Engaging with our kids in the outdoors, with all phones left in the house might push a giant reset button for the entire family and provide a much-needed break from the attention grabbing ghouls of the internet. I'm grateful that our farm provides such easy access to nature.
Connect to nature and join a CSA grown by a local farm.
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March 24, 2016
Wild Goose Party
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Photo used with permission from Microsoft.
If you notice dark circles around the Farmer’s eyes these days, or his Wife’s, I can tell you why.
Many urban-dwellers grow accustomed to night time noises, such as sirens, people yelling and traffic. Here in the country, sleep time is usually more serene. Crickets, the hoot of an owl or a yap of a coyote become akin to a sleep machine for us. But lately, there’s been a racket that permeates the dreams of even the soundest sleeper. Across the street from us lies a lovely small pond. It’s fresh waters attract all sorts of wild-life. We’ve seen migrating osprey dive at blinding speed to it’s surface and snatch up dinner. Kingfishers perch on the telephone wires that stretch across the field there, keeping a constant watch on potential opportunities for food. Deer pause to drink. It’s all very picturesque.
Then the waterfowl return to nest, notably the Canada goose. Most of the time, they spend daylight hours honking their courtship messages at each other. Most birds, owls and mockingbirds excepted, are instantly asleep when the sun goes down. You can walk right up and pluck one from it’s nest, as long as its dark. Inspired, or fooled, by the moony-ful brilliance however, these rambunctious geese start to party.
Last night as I lay in bed, eyes wide open, listening to their racket, I gazed outside. Indeed I could see every detail of the barn and grounds, not quite as bright as day, but clear enough that I could imagine the geese decided to waste no time. Honking and splashing, there could've been a thousand of them for all the noise they made. At dawn this morning, the usual time for birdsong, the pond was silent. The partiers had either completely worn themselves out, or they had finally accomplished their mission. As proof, we soon will see them proudly swimming in circles around the little pond, followed by a trail of fuzzy, lemon-gray little darlings. And that makes the lost sleep all worth while!
Spring is truly here. The birds and beasts know it and so does the Farmer. Our tractors are in full use already, whereas last year at this time they were snowed in, or close to it. We guess you are starting to fantasize about tender young fresh things (vegetables, that is, not goslings) on your plates. We have plenty of space in both our Spring Share and Main Season, so please keep spouting good things to your friends and relations! I also want to say a personal "thank you!" to Dish Works for their recent blog post, "Weekly Pick: A Farm Blog with Character," featuring Notes from the Farmer's Wife! Nice to get a little encouragement to keep at it! And thanks to all of you who take the time to read these notes...its nice to know someone is out there!
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December 29, 2014
Into the Light
A Note from the Farmer
We are passing through the darkest days of the year, a time that for many is difficult and trying. The short days, the grey skies and the cold can bring people’s spirits to a low ebb. And yet the hope of the coming year swells around us.
It starts with a few extra minutes of light each day, a promise of things to come. Shortly, despite January snow and ice, the change will begin to be apparent, the sun higher and stronger and the earth beginning to awaken. This from what is of course just a dozing sleep rather than a deep slumber, for even now in the depths of the dark days, we can hear bird song and catch the scent of earth in the air. Life is moving, working, sustaining us even in this time of rest.

Here at the farm our lives mirror this process. As we find time for rest and family during these grey days of winter, we already turn our faces to the coming season. We do, because we must. Preparation for spring planting already demands our attention. Cleaning and organizing tools, ordering and restocking supplies, planning and researching new strategies, a lengthy ‘to do’ list requires our attention throughout the short weeks before greenhouse heaters are turned on and the planting begins again.
Not only necessity inspires us to persist. The continuity builds strength. We rest, but we also keep going, like the biological processes on the farm itself, slowed but continuous. We have time to reflect, but we don’t lose ourselves in reflection. We have time to plan and dream, but we remember the needs of the present. It is a persistence born of the knowledge that spring is coming, with its renewal, its demands and its opportunity. This time of rest is also a time of preparation and of readiness. January will roll into February and March, and the sun will begin to loosen winter’s grip. The day will come, some years sooner, some years later, when a handful of earth crumbles between the fingers, no longer sticky mud, letting us know it is time to plow. We will be ready, with tools cleaned, plans made and energy renewed.
We wish you peace and strength as we all pass into this new year. May the promise of spring sustain you, keeping the hearth embers aglow in the assurance that the sun’s warmth and light will return, as it always has.
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