I know. I know! I am a liar and a cheat (name that movie), and a total blog slacker. But I do have a good excuse for the first 10 days of lying. I wasn't planning on going, but a day after I wrote the "Montana Teaser" promising more, I hopped in the motor home with my family for a little 9 day jaunt up the California and Oregon coast. So there's that. But since I've been home from that trip I have struggled to find the motivation to go through the hundreds of Montana pictures, upload and then write about them. Maybe it's knowing that after all these I still have hundreds of newer pictures to sort through and blog about the more recent trip. At any rate, here I am, and here are the (very, VERY narrowed down) highlights of a trip to The Farm.
My parents have a motor home (you know that by now). It is seemingly plenty large (at 36 feet), but please try to imagine thirteen bodies crammed in that amount of space for two solid days. We were a little concerned that we may all go crazy, but really, it didn't seem that bad. We all kinda found our own little space (Grandma and Grandpa in the front seats, Baby G in the other upright seat so he could be strapped in, my mom, Kim, Madeline, Rach, and Ems in the front portion, and the big kids, Ben, Hannah, Josh, and Jake in the back room), and it worked out nicely. Looking at these pictures does make me a little claustrophobic, though.
Mom, Kim, Mady, and I taking a nap.
At least 6 (there may be more hidden in there somewhere) of the kids playing on the back bed.
Pulling into The Farm feels a little bit like going back to your childhood home, equal parts nostalgia and warmth. As I walked through Aunt Sandi and Uncle Tom's house for the first time this trip I just kept thinking about how there is something so comfortable and happy about places that never change and people that manage to seem kinder and sweeter than they were before, though that can't really be possible. They have all always been so good to us. There are a few things about The Farm that really make it "The Farm" for us. I'll highlight some of those things.
There are always 3-5 dogs running around. Sometimes they are the same as the last year we were there, but usually there is at least one new one.
The Farm Dogs-- Jake, Tuffy, Harley, and Sophie
Uncle Rick with the dogs.
Jake the boy laying down with Harley. Jake the dog watching.
Checking the fence
The last couple of years Uncle Rick has taken us on quite the journey to check the condition of the fences on the parts of their land that they cannot get cars or 4-wheelers to. That means the terrain is incredibly rough and steep. We haul equipment with us to fix broken fence posts along the way, and it's always an adventure. Last time Uncle Rick bludgeoned a rattlesnake with a hammer while we all watched in a little bit of horror, and this time Kim brilliantly gave Emma some Benadryl right before we left so that she would be extra sleepy and not want to walk AT ALL. It was pretty exciting.
Kim proudly showing off her farm jeans and shirt.
Most of the crew setting off on the trail.
See the steepness? My 70-something year old grandpa did this with us (he's probably in better shape than some of us). On this particular slope he said, "This is almost as bad as the 17th hole at ValleyView." He's a golfer.
Apparently we have a thing for tie-dye in my family. When I realized how many of us had tie-dyed shirts on that day I decided it needed to be documented.
Josh, Mady, Jake, me, Ben
The real farmer doing the hard work.
The whole group of us at the end. We were tired and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.
We always go to The Farm in the summer. Three of my mom's children celebrate birthdays between July 18th and August 16th. That means that we have all had a birthday at The Farm at some point. I know I have celebrated at least two birthdays there, and I always love being there for my birthday. We always go into town and order an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. So this year when I realized we would be celebrating my son's 2nd birthday on The Farm I was happy that he was going to get that experience (and a little sad that his daddy wouldn't be with us).
2 year old Baby G dancing over his Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake special.
All the people that were there to celebrate with him. He felt so special and kept asking everyone to sing to him again.
When I was young I remember my mom wanting to get pictures of us in the wheat fields. I wanted to get a few pictures of my baby that could only be taken on The Farm. I took a bunch but will only post two. You are welcome.
Playing in front of some hay bales.
On one of the hundreds of red dirt paths surrounded by green fields that don't stop.
Many years back we would spend hours and hours a day on the horses for the Trail Ride. We haven't been there for the Trail Ride for quite sometime, but Uncle Rick still saddles the horses up for us to go for rides.
This picture is so classicly "Farm" to me. The old trucks in the foreground, the skies that go on for miles, and some of us on horses on the horizon.
Baby G was pretty happy to be on the horse.
Chasing (or checking) the cows
One of the very best things about The Farm is going to check cows. I love that Uncle Tom will come running into the house saying that a cow got out somewhere and we all hop onto 4 wheelers or load up in the back of the pick-up and race over to find it (or not find it, whatever the case may be). Watching the dogs move the cows to the right pasture is really a sight to behold. We love checking (and chasing) the cows.
A classic cow checking picture.
Uncle Rick being brave and getting the cows to turn the other way.
Uncle Rick wasn't nearly as effective in getting the cows to move as the dogs were. It is amazing to watch those dogs herd the cattle.
Sophie looking very fox-like chasing the cows.
I love this one of Jake biting this bull's hooves to get him moving.
If you look closely you can see three of the dogs chasing the cows up the hill.
Baby G had fun riding in the Gator while we were checking cows one of the times.
Aunt Sandi makes the most delicious food. One of the very best things about The Farm is how well we eat there. Steak Rice and Carmel Rolls are two of the things we request every year and Aunt Sandi never disappoints. It was so much fun this year to help cook and to learn how to make some of the delicious things that I usually only get on The Farm.
Aunt Tami, Kim, Mom and Grandma cooking up some goods. Aunt Sandi isn't in this picture which is really sad because she is the brain behind all the deliciousness.
Aunt Sandi pouring the ooey goodness on the dough for Carmel Rolls.
All of my Farm memories include nights of staying up late playing cards around the kitchen table. Oh how I love that tradition.
This was actually the first year we have gone to Cain's Grove. It is near The Farm and is filled with all kinds of rock formations and caves and cool looking stone. We had fun exploring and making the adults (I know that I am technically an adult, but I am considering myself among the children here) nervous by jumping off of big rocks.
Hannah and I catching some air up on a tall rock.
Josh and Jake are competing in the 2012 Olympics in synchronized rock jumping.
Many yoga poses were struck on high rock formations.
All of us almost falling off. Scary, huh?Only at The Farm...
...can the little girls wake up, run outside and immediately busy themselves making mud pies for hours
...can we catch large garter snakes and scare the pants off Aunt Sandi.
...can we make ourselves feel like dorks when we realize that while attempting to close the fence behind us we locked Kim on the other side. We like to pretend we're real farmers, but clearly we're not. I love how hard Kim is laughing upon realizing what they had just done and I love Uncle Tom in the background chuckling to himself about these city folk on his Farm.
...can you get this classic picture of your son with wheat in his mouth, and hands in his pockets. Little farm boy. Cracks me right up.
...can a junky old truck look so good. My grandpa is a handsome farmer.
...can you look out the window and see the boys and men on the roof of the old chicken coop putting tin on it.
...can you experience the elation that comes with rain (no irrigation here-- the crops depend on precipitation and it is a happy day when some comes), followed by the anxiety of hail that could potentially destroy the crops.
The following pictures show some of the beauty and serenity that surrounds us on The Farm. It is truly one of the most picturesque places on the earth.
The old Sunday School building where my Great Grandma is buried.
Farm truck and farm dog. One of my favorite pictures of the week.
Farmer out by a pick up. Love this of Uncle Tom.
Horses, hay bales, sky, land. So beautiful.
Windmill blowing strong in front of farm house.
The memories I have of The Farm are precious to me, and I am so grateful to have a place like that to escape to once in awhile. I am now so grateful that I can continue to share this magnificent place with my family. It was a picture perfect week on The Farm, and we are already planning our next visit.
The only hard part about it is the looong drive back. The drive there is more manageable because you have The Farm to look forward to, but going home is always a long drive. But this year Baby G and I got so, SO lucky. At the last moment we were able to steal a buddy pass from my very generous Grandma and hop on a plane. We were home in an hour and a half. I think it may have been one of the happiest moments of my life when I got on that plane. Thanks again, Grandma.