Up With the Chickens

Raising children and chickens on a little buffalo farm

An Open Letter to My Son’s Teacher…

Dear _________,

First of all, good luck.  Your job is to spark the imagination and hold the attention of a room full of kids, many of whom have been electronically stimulated since the womb and others who are jacked up on the 32 oz. Dr. Pepper they had for breakfast or who are in the process of crashing from it.  They have never really learned to spell (thank you, Auto-correct) and they can’t do math in their head because they carry a calculator at all times (thank you, smart phone).

I can’t speak to the issues and difficulties of every child in your classes, and I know there are those whose needs will be far greater than my own son’s. I consider my boy to be a pretty average teenager.  As such, he will seem bored in your class.  Oh how I wish that he would come home and ramble on and on about what you’re reading or the experiments you’re conducting or the formulas you’re solving.  But he won’t.  When I ask what he learned at school today, he’ll say, “Nothing.”  I’ll make you a deal.  I won’t believe him when he says he did nothing in your class, if you will believe me when I tell you that I did not raise him to drink a giant Dr. Pepper for breakfast.

I adore this boy, and I believe he is a pretty good kid, but I’m not the kind of mother who thinks her child can do no wrong.  Please never hesitate to tell me if he misbehaves, disrespects you, or steps out of line in any way.  However, do not feel like you need to report to me if he misses an assignment or makes a bad grade on a test. I will not be checking his grades online on a weekly basis.  He knows our expectations.  We trust him to be responsible for his grades and to maintain a high GPA. If he is struggling in your class we will encourage him to meet with you.  If necessary we will meet with you to discuss how we can help him at home.  But it’s his job to tell us if he’s struggling, and he knows this. It isn’t your job.  You have enough to do. And it isn’t our job to constantly check up on him – nor does this do him any favors. No one will hover over him in college or in his career someday to make sure he doesn’t mess up, and we aren’t going to do that now.

Fortunately, he’s a pretty good student.  At the least, he’ll do what he has to do to get by – that is to make the grades his father and I expect.  Sadly, he’s not likely to go to go far above and beyond.  So please, make A’s and B’s hard to get.  He won’t work hard on his own, so you’ll have to set the bar high.  If your expectations are low, I can assure you he will live up to them.

It’s not that he’s lazy.  You should see him work on his old Jeep or practice his favorite sports.  He just doesn’t really like school. Sorry. However, please don’t assume that his lack of interest means your efforts are wasted on him. They aren’t.  Years ago, when he was small, we prepared the soil of his mind and soul to be fertile ground for learning and spiritual growth.  We limited television.  We read to him religiously.  We engaged him in conversation often and about important things.  Now we are counting on you to plant the seeds in that soil.  It’s possible that Macbeth or cellular mitosis or World War I will capture his imagination and these seeds will begin to sprout right away. I’ve seen it happen before.  But it’s also possible you will never see the fruits of your labor. Labor anyway. Please.

He isn’t on fire with a love of learning, so he’ll be less fun to teach than the kid who can’t wait to get to your class each day.  He isn’t struggling to get by in school or in life, so you’re heart might not automatically go out to him like it will to the kid with no friends or whose dad took off last week, but my average teenage boy has as much potential as the kid who reads the Complete Works of Shakespeare for for fun.  And at times, because being a teenager is just plain hard, he will have heartaches and difficulties just like the lonely kid with the bad home life.  In other words, my average kid is special too. Don’t coddle him.  Just please don’t overlook him.

Be assured that you will be in our prayers as you touch the life of our boy and so many others.


The Boy’s Mom


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Bee Not Afraid…

      We have a new addition to the farm.  Bees!  I’ve actually had them a while, but I got sidelined writing about it because I could not land on just the right bee pun for my title. Here were some of the ones I came up with:

It’s Unbeelievable!

A Beeutiful New Addition…

Well, I’ll Bee…

Okay, you get the idea.  Bee Not Afraid is somewhat of an ironic title  – because I am.  So, for now, I’m leaving the bee feeding up to Big Hal.  A few years ago when I was nursing babies, I decided that all potentially harmful or life threatening tasks (like tasting the chicken salad to see if it’s still good or dealing with thousands of angry stinging bees) should default to Big Hal.  That might seem harsh, but did I mention that I was pregnant and/or nursing for over 10 years and two of the babies were 10 pounds?  So, I think I’ve earned a free pass. Anyway, He wears protective gear – not a real bee suit, but some sort of turkey hunting garb he has that includes a veil.  If the hive (and Hal) survive through the winter, we will invest in a bee keeper’s suit this spring.

Most of the real bee keeping is actually being taken care of by  a friend of ours who has years of experience.  We hope to learn a lot from him and be able to tend to them all by ourselves someday.  We also hope to have a honey by fall.  I’m already planning a honey themed harvesting party!

In the meantime, we are already seeing positive results from having bees on the farm.  A peach tree which has never yielded fruit, did this year. With the bee population on the decline, I hope that our bee keeping will contribute positively to the local environment, and I hope to see more people raising their own hives in the future.  My father says that when he was growing up, everyone had a hive or two.

As a bee keeping newbie, I don’t have any advice to offer, but I do want to share some links.   It might seem strange for a big scaredy cat like me to be encouraging others to raise bees, but keep in mind my fears are mostly irrational and stem from a wasp in my hair incident in 2nd grade.  Yes, my bees scare me, but I will overcome my fear, and learn to feed the bees myself – someday.   Perhaps some of you other farmers and farmer wannabees, might like to give bee keeping a try too!