The yard around our house in Virginia often had bare patches where we never could get grass to grow. Here in PNG, we have opposite problem. Grass quickly fills in any available spot—often faster than we can keep up with. I’m sure the local people must shake their heads at us in wonder as we routinely pull the grass out of our rock sidewalks and driveways. The aviation department even has to scrape it off the runway.
There is a vacant house up the hill from us whose yard we walk through just about every day. We were starting to need a bush knife (machete) to hack our way through it though since it hadn’t been mown in about a month. I notified the appropriate authorities and a crew of men came with mower, weed-whacker and bush knives. When it was done it looked like mowed hay, and I commented to the kids that Chaco would probably love it.
Chaco is our neighbor. Actually he is our neighbor’s steer, but he’s a very sociable cow and the kids love him almost as much as our cat…and probably more than the dog we were watching. The day our neighbors turn Chaco into mince and round steak will be a heartrending one for our family.
With Chaco next door, chickens in the coop, cats on the porch, and dogs around the house, Claire and Isaiah fancy themselves on a farm. Naturally they couldn’t let all that fresh grass go to waste, so they decided to play “farm chores” and haul it to Chaco by the bucket-full.
Chaco by now knows to come close to the fence whenever the kids are outside. Carrots might be involved afterall. He enjoys watching Claire and Isaiah play kickball and will sometimes run to first base alongside the kicker. Once a stray ball landed on his side of the fence and he obligingly nosed it back to where the kids could reach it. So he was quite willing to participate in this new game.
Together the kids provided Chaco with lots to chew on, but Isaiah gave up the game long before Claire was ready. She even coerced Daddy into helping her when he got home from work. The next day, Claire composed the following for her home school writing assignment.
When I am 39 years old I want to live on Grandpa K’s farm. I will live there with my husband, 3 daughters, 1 son, 3 adorable puddies [as in puddy-tat] and 2 wonderful dogs. My job will be to raise work horses, cats that catch mice and sheep dogs. When I’m not busy I’ll ride my horses and do different kinds of arts and crafts. I can’t wait to grow up so I can do these things on my farm.
By Claire (age 8)
I noticed cows didn’t figure into her future farm. I initially thought she discovered cows were too much work, but then I realized chickens weren’t on her future farm either. Most likely, she doesn’t want to deal with animals as food and the attachment issues that might arise. <smile>