July 11, 2008

Time for a visit

Whew. What a week - my family visited the farm! This visit was preceded by a family vacation. I wasn't very homesick to begin with, but, needless to say, I got my fill of family time for a while. Two weeks ago, I took my first few days off from the farm to leave for vacation at Fox Lake – a small lake near Welcome, MN. Since my aunt and uncle have a house on the lake, we were able to take the boat out during the evening on the fourth of July and watch fireworks all around. It was most relaxing – drinking wine and cuddling with my nieces and nephews out on the boat while we watched the lights glitter in the sky.

A few low-points of the occasion was playing volleyball (against the ‘in-laws’ of the family, to whom we lost 5 times) and mealtime. Mealtime was a chore not because the food was bad, but I had to constantly defend myself as my dietary decisions have changed after having lived on a vegetable farm for a few months. I’m in the wrong family to not be eating meat – they weren’t too excited about the whole thing. But I made it through the weekend. (So did my veggie-filled salads and entrees that I brought - I may have been the only one who ate a substantial amount of them!)

Although vacation was good, I couldn’t help myself from leaving early to go to Wiscoy’s fourth of July celebration (on the 5th.) Just as the weekend was exciting, it was even more exciting that some of my family decided to visit for a week after the lake-weekend.

As my parents, sister, and two nieces trekked down County Road 19 to Wiscoy Valley I could sense their amazement. It brought me back to the sensation I got when I first came in April- one of anxiousness and curiosity. The topography here is unlike anything we see in southwestern Minnesota. Even though this was their 'vacation,' they wanted to be put to work. So I honored their request and picked up some barn paint at Fleet Farm for them to repaint my cabin. That, and picking peas with us, kept them busy for a few days. They were even able to help out with preparing and packing the CSA boxes. The last two days of their trip we left the farm to go to Lanesboro, Harmony (to Niagra Cave), and La Crosse.

It was so fun for me to see them interacting with my co-workers, the various Zephyr members and the Wiscoyotes, and to see them gaining knowledge about and respect for organic vegetable farms during their visit. Despite my niece's exclamation that 'she wants a big steak when she gets home', I knew they had a valuable experience after my sister inquired about organic vegetable farms near her hometown and when she told me that she was going to be more adventurous in the produce aisle now. I (slightly) felt bad that I deprived them from their normal farm-fare, but I did let them break-down midweek and order fried-chicken from Rushford Foods, which was part of a picnic we ate with plastic knives because of a mix-up with the leftover plastic-ware from the lake vacation. And, every night (with exception of Friday) we did get ice cream.

Overall, their visit was very pleasant and I feel more connected to both the farm community and my family after having the two interact. It's almost like discovering how two foods, that you love so dearly by themselves, are more interesting and enjoyable together as you discover different characteristics of each when they are contrasted and complemented by the flavors and textures of the other. For me, that's toasted pecans and dates, or sugar snap peas and strawberries, or beets and oranges, etc. I saw that my family is a little more adventurous and accepting than I gave them credit for, and that the farm community is very adaptable, accommodating, and flexible. It makes me smile that, because of this experience, my nieces are quite possibly one of the few in their classes who know that kale is a vegetable, not just a boy's name. Small things like that, are what made this week wonderful.

That, and the extra hands we had getting work done on the farm :)

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