Farming can have its moments of drudgery: mucking barns, cleaning chicken coops, weeding the garden, mulching the potato patch—the sorts of projects that make our summer interns grumble and groan. And then there are the tastefully unpleasant tasks, like picking through the odiferous rotting potatoes in the basement. But farming is far from all muck and grime, with a constant supply of transitions and seasonal changes that help to keep the agrarian lifestyle sprinkled with joy.
These little moments are seldom planned—you are going to have fun NOW, so you better enjoy it! It might be bursting into a Broadway number in the middle of the weed patch with slightly altered lyrics to voice your plight beneath the hot summer sun. It might be dancing in the kitchen while the fiddle plays in the dining hall during a Harvest Dinner and Concert night, despite the days of meticulous preparation and beeping timers announcing their need for culinary attention.
It might be a random bedding fight after cleaning the lamb barn, irresistibly crunching through the autumn leaf piles raked up in the yard, or making up voices for baby chicks as they explore their new world, “Ohh, what’s this over here? It’s shiny. Should I peck it?” Having a good laugh, despite all the pressures and mounting to-do list, can be the best joy therapy amidst the rigors of farm living.
This holiday season, with all the family that journeyed across the country to come and stay at the farm, we took several days off from the usual Creamery & Café schedule to relax by the fire, share stories, play games, and laugh. There’s the worn-out old Sorry game and beloved card games, but this year I shared a new game relayed by a friend. You’re welcome to try it with your family too. Having a group of five or more people makes this much more fun.
You don’t need a board, dice, or an hour glass. What you need are pens or pencils and folded strips of paper. Just like the kid’s game of telephone (where a phrase is whispered from ear to ear until it reaches the original speaker, usually altered), Telephone Pictionary involves passing along a message that flip-flops from text to image and back to text as it circles the room.
The first person writes a simple sentence on the piece of paper. This sentence could be anything from “The squirrel ran up the tree” to “My dog likes to eat treats.” Keep the ideas fairly simple and straightforward. Then pass the paper onto the next person in the circle. This person reads the sentence, folds the paper over so that the text is hidden, and draws their pictorial rendition of that sentence. This is then passed onto the third person, who observed the picture, folds the paper again, and writes what she believes is the sentence that the picture represents. The fourth person then gets to draw the new sentence.
Keep passing the piece along until it returns to the original sentence writer or you run out of paper. You can even play, as we did, where everyone starts with a piece of paper and their own sentence, so that multiple Telephone Pictionary threads are circling at the same time. As the project progresses, bellylaughs are sure to ensue—especially when you unfold the thread and see how the sentences and pictures changed as they were passed along! Who cares if you think you can’t draw; the point is to have a good time with friends and family, enjoying the little moments together.
Sometimes life can try to tear you down or leave you discouraged in your hopes and endeavors, but it’s always good to take a step back and find joy in the little moments—the smell of baking holiday cookies, the antics of the family dog or cat, or the flitting eagerness of little birds at the feeder outside the window.
The New Year is soon upon us, and with it the promise of a fresh start, new projects, and plans for another growing season. This holiday, and throughout the year, take time to find joy in the little moments and share them with others. Best wishes for you and yours in the coming year, and maybe we’ll see you down on the farm sometime.
Laura Berlage is a co-owner of North Star Homestead Farms, LLC and Farmstead Creamery & Café. 715-462-3453 www.northstarhomestead.com