Ah, farm life. Fresh air, plenty of room for children to run and play safely with a kind of freedom that is not possible in modern cities. Our children played more like children of generations past, building forts, scooping up minnows, catching tiny tree frogs and jumping in the hay loft. There were negative aspects to this idyllic life, things I had never even dreamed of before we moved our crew out into the country. One of the more daunting aspects of rural life is the mud.
Our garden was massive, with rows that were 75 feet long. The sheer volume of produce we grew was our insurance that the raccoons, groundhogs, rabbits, deer, mice and bears would not eat it all. We also grew enough vegetables to barter with neighbouring farmers, sold some on the road side or simply gave our surplus to our generous family and friends.
I usually recruited the older children to pull vegetables for dinner every afternoon.
Of course the toddlers and preschoolers always jumped at the opportunity to tag along. It was an adventure to walk through our jungle of a vegetable garden because a tiny person could lose themselves among the tall plants and weeds . This transformed the daily ritual of picking vegetables into an exciting adventure.
Rain had poured down for days, soaking our heavy clay soil, so this particular day, everyone trooped out into the garden wearing rain or barn boots which were soon coated with sticky clumps of clay. As David struggled to pull out a huge carrot, his boots sank so deeply into the mud that he couldn’t lift his feet.
Everyone began giggling as Matthew struggled to extricate his younger brother. David was finally set free but left a boot behind.
Of course, as he stood on one foot, attempting to free his boot, he fell, landing in the mud. Matt was laughing too hard to help again.
Of course, the next rescuer slipped and landed on their bottom with their feet straight out and their bodies coated in sticky clumps of clay.
It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what happened next. The result was a bunch of laughing kids, covered from head to toe with mud.
They startled me when they came to the door and even I had to laugh while I shook my head and tried to figure out what to do with all of them. Since it was hot enough, we started the clean-up outside. I peeled off ruined outer clothing, washed feet and legs in a bucket of warm water and then kids ran inside one by one, to shower or bathe.
I did add, ” Remember, only one mud bath per year!” It actually did become a yearly tradition.