How many of you country folks have had your big-city, urban relatives or friends come out for weekend visit? Or (gasp), even worse, an entire week! Now I’m not referring to those folks who were raised in a rural setting and are looking to reconnect with their roots. No, I’m talking about those individuals who have always lived in a big city and who know nothing about farm life but think spending a little time in the country will give them a taste of what it’s all about.
Many years ago a cousin from Toronto decided to spend a few days at our farm. As we sat on the deck, sipping our cool drinks, enjoying the warm sun and the gentle afternoon breeze, she suddenly spouted, “This is the life! I really think I could live here.”
I almost choked on my beverage, but managed a weak, artificial smile as I sarcastically thought, “Sure you could!”
I wasn’t sure how she would survive without her coffee shops, theatres, night clubs and restaurants, but that was only half the problem. She didn’t know a combine from a tractor, a steer from a cow, or a canola crop from a field of wheat. But so what? Did she really need to know these things to enjoy country living. Maybe not, but did she have any idea what demands came with life on the farm?
After all, from her perspective life in rural Saskatchewan meant leisurely morning coffees, afternoon walks followed by a pre-dinner drink and a lovely barbeque, and then an inviting campfire in the evening. She had no inkling of the hours that had gone into getting the farmyard looking fit for company. There was grass to mow, trees to trim, weeds to pick and flowers to water. Fences needed mending, buildings required painting and windows demanded washing from the constant onslaught of bugs. (And we aren’t even bona fide farmers, just farm dwellers.)
I remember another visit from an aunt who made her annual pilgrimage to rural Saskatchewan from eastern Canada and always stopped at our place for a visit (and her yearly inspection). On this particular occasion, she wandered out to the garden (Why must visitors always want to check out the garden where, in my case, the portulaca weed reigns supreme?) and quickly returned demanding to know what had happened to the raspberry patch. When I explained that we had worked it under, she was aghast and wondered why I would do such a thing.
Why? Why? Well, maybe if she had to crawl on her hands and knees to clean out the scratchy canes each spring, she would understand why. But I had destroyed her vision of the perfect, idyllic farm, not to mention she didn’t get a feed of some hot, juicy raspberries. (Okay, now that I mentioned it, I have to admit that I do sort of miss those tasty berries.)
I have also had my city friends come for visits. They love farm life, that is, until a horde of mosquitos come dive-bombing in looking for fresh blood. But funnier still is the panic that ensues when a group of coyotes set up a chorus. Late one night we were sitting in the outdoor hot tub, when suddenly a nearby coyote howled. (It sounded much closer than it actually was, but she didn’t know that.) My friend jumped up and wondered why it was so close.
She didn’t think it was very funny when I quipped, “Well, he probably thinks that soup’s on.”
Ahhh! Yes, life on the farm can be demanding, but also very entertaining, especially when city dudes come to visit.
Mowing the grass in our big farmyard.