Parents, you know how hard it is to leave your baby. Even if you know your baby is in capable hands making that break is so hard. It is especially hard for parents who have waited a long time for children or struggled to conceive. Well I am realizing this farm is our baby. It was a struggle to get here and to keep it going and we love love love it. But sometimes breaks are nice. That said Proeun still had to encourage me and remind me, “it will be fine, it won’t fall apart, and you will love it even more when you get back.” I have such a wise husband.
Back in the beginning of the year when my sister and my new brother-in-law announced their engagement and started talking about venues I had another realization–family traditions are real and multigenerational. I always loved the family trips to the North Shore of Lake Superior growing up. We went other places to, but I have many many really fond memories of Duluth and points north. I just didn’t realize how much my sister loved it to. So when she said she was planning a fall wedding at a resort on the North Shore I couldn’t wait.
So this last weekend we headed north to celebrate with my sister and a host of combined family and just have some good old fun.
Proeun and the older children prepare for a bike trip to Gooseberry Falls using the resort’s bikes.
Later we all went to the falls for some preliminary pictures. We clean up pretty good. I was hoping to get some really amazing pictures at the falls but it was raining so we took the children back to wait for the ceremony.
Even though we had to work around the rain we had a beautiful and intensely personal ceremony on the shores of the lake. When the new bride and groom kissed for the first time as husband and wife the sun broke through and shone on them. The girls were the flower girls, Proeun and Two ushers and I did a reading. What a blessing to be able to be part of the day for my baby sister!
The next day was beautiful and perfect for exploring.
We stopped in Duluth and saw a ship leaving harbor. That never gets old. I love when they blow their horns to the lift bridge and it answers back! We took a bike ride that all of us fit in but unfortunately the pictures all turned out blurry. The memory I will have of that is Pray and Effie sitting in the front basket and as we started up turning and looking at each other and getting big old grins on their faces. Love how they love each other and communicate.
Once we actually got away we found vacation can be kind of addicting. All of us would have loved a couple more days, but duty calls. And today when I delivered boxes to the city and got to drive back home to our farm, where we live, I realized how amazing our everyday life actually is.
Last year the children and I read all the way through the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. After moving to a farm the stories had a special meaning to us as we compared our life with hers. One section that really struck me was the depiction of haymaking with her father. Charles Ingalls had no sons that lived so his work was especially hard but Laura was more then willing to step in and help.
When we purchased our farm I was desperate to get on something, anything, but Proeun wanted at least 20 tillable acres. We held out and got luckily. But last year getting cover crop on all that bare land was pretty expensive. And that was a necessary expense we had not counted on. But this year it paid off. Originally we planned on purchasing our own equipment and making our own hay. It couldn’t be as bad as what Laura experienced right? Well luckily reason won out and we decided to list our hay field on Craigslist with payment in hay. It wasn’t long before we started getting calls. So we made arrangements for a local farmer to manage our fields and pay us in hay.
It was baled just in time. It was a little drizzly the next morning when we went out to count the bales and figure our cut. Looks like we will have enough hay to feed the goats all the way through the winter and maybe a horse, not this year but we are hoping next. So yeah the cost last year really paid off. And I love the look of all those bales in our field.
I did not grow up loving the outdoors. It wasn’t until meeting Proeun and having my children that I discovered the amazing restorative power of being outdoors. It is an incredibly amazing thing to dream a dream, work hard for it and achieve it even when it often seemed impossible. It is also amazing to push yourself. That is how we feel about our farm. A year and a half after our move it still feels new to us. But what is even more amazing about having one dream come true is it gives you faith to move on, to dream more and know that it is possible.
I am still on some community forums from our old neighborhood in St. Paul. Recently there has been much talk about senseless crimes, including murders perpetrated by youth. I think the missing component in these youth’s lives is dreams and the belief that hard work will bring them to reality.
But Youthcare knows how to give young people dreams and the ability to achieve them. Camp Sunrise has been bringing campers to our farm throughout the summer. It is great to meet all the young people and work alongside them, but we didn’t really get a chance to see what it was all about until Visitor’s Day.
The camp alternates between boy’s and girl’s week. The youth are often from the inner city and spend a whole week living in tents and pushing themselves. Including a canoe trip for 3 days! Honestly it would push me to the limits and once I visited I was really more impressed.
It was leader week where some of the summer’s campers were invited back for extra fun and leadership training.
While camping the youth get up close and personal with the river. Here they share about how to ensure high water quality for years to come.
Tents the youth stay in.
Family and friends gather to celebrate the summer with campers.
Keep up the great work Camp Sunrise, giving kids dreams and the skills and confidence to achieve them! Look forward to next year.