Leaving the Farm, Milking Cows, & Vinegar Baths

My mother and father in-law have finally sold their farm! This is great news since the farm chores are getting to be a little much for them to handle. They are both in their late sixties and are still trying to manage the chickens, cows, gardens, guineas, and all the fences, barns, and equipment that goes with all of that. I think the farm began managing them at some point and it’s not a very good at giving them time off. The only slight hiccup is that they don’t really have a place to move to and the new owners want them out this week. So we’ve been moving long forgotten stacks of furniture and knick-knacks to various relative’s basements and barns. With any luck we’ll forget where we put half of it and we won’t have to deal with it again (don’t tell the relatives that).

We will miss the farm, though. It’s traditional to drive up to Michigan every Sunday and hang out by a huge fire while eating popcorn and jalapeño poppers. The Detweiler’s lived at the farm for 25 years and have a huge garden with seven different kinds of grapes, kohlrabi, peppers, popcorn, pear trees, apple trees, raspberries, corn, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, regular potatoes, asparagus, peas, and other veggies I forgot or never knew existed.

One day on the farm I wandered out to one of the many barns littering the farm and found Mama Detweiler milking a cow. It occurred to me I never milked a cow before so I asked if I could try it.

“Sure,” Clara said, “Just start squeezing at the top of the teat and then go down like this.” She squirted a stream of milk into the pail.

“Sure, that looks easy.” I gingerly positioned my butt in the middle of the rickety wooden stool and balanced myself by leaning my head against the cow’s thick, wooly hide. Then I grabbed that dangling, fleshy udder and squeezed as hard as I could. A little drop plinked into the bucket. “Hmm.” I tried again. And then again. I milked that cow for all it’s worth. My hands were sore and I was puffing from being doubled over and balancing on the stool between the cow patties. “There, I think I got all of it.” I gave the udder another tug. Yup. Nothing there. I gave Clara her stool back so she could double check that I got it all.

Clara sat down and got quickly filled up another half a pail with milk. If watching the Madagascar movies taught me anything, it’s never underestimate little old ladies.

Because of the manpower needed to move so many mountains of debris, relatives have been showing up to help. Erleen, Janice’s sister, has come in from Pennsylvania and Steph, who is married to Janice’s brother, is flying up from South Carolina and will stay for several days in our extra room.

“You know, it’s nice having down-to-earth relatives who don’t care about how clean our house is,” I casually remark to Janice as I watch Adi carve a path of destruction across the living room.

“Yea it is.” Janice sighs and then hands me a detailed list, “Here’s what needs to be done before I get back the airport.” Janice was leaving to pick up Steph at the South Bend airport. “I think you should be able to get to item 108 or so before I get back.”

I glance at the list.

1. Give Adi a bath.

2. Brush the carpet in the living room from north to south.

3. Scrub the underside of the bottom pantry shelf with a toothbrush.

4. Swap out cheap toilet paper with good toilet paper…

“You hid the good toilet paper? Oh come on!” We usually get the Econo-Poop brand of toilet paper that evaporates if you pull on it too hard. It comes in 100 count crates but can have as many as 8 bonus rolls stuck in it. They stick the bonus rolls in there because if the bag isn’t sealed properly, a couple rolls will have disintegrated from the humidity before you can use them.

I think Janice feels like she has to keep up with friends on Instagram. Steph has one of those fancy filters on Instagram that makes your children look happy, your dogs look clean, and your house look organized. Where do you get that filter anyway? I can’t seem to find the “Eternal Happiness” filter on my phone.

I look at the list again. 1. Give Adi a bath.

Janice was helping at the farm earlier in the day and Mama Detweiler told her that if you put a little apple cider vinegar in Adi’s bath water, it will help Adi sleep. Since Janice left to pick up Steph that means that I’m in charge of giving Adi her night time bath. Sometimes I’m a little dubious of these quack doctor-ish, African jungle doctor remedies but admittedly I am pretty open to anything when it comes to helping Adi sleep more often and more efficiently.

Janice had told me where the apple cider vinegar was but I completely forgot. Well, I didn’t exactly forget because I never was listening in the first place. My mind was on a YouTube video where people were trying to drive high dollar ATVs up cliffs which was disastrous and hilarious at the same time. They would go blasting up the hill then flip over backwards and come bouncing down. Pretty fun stuff but a terrible waste of money.

Where was I?

Oh yea, apple cider vinegar. I called Janice sixty seconds after she went out the front door.

“Where did you say the apple cider vinegar was?”

“On the top shelf of the refrigerator door, just like I told you.”

“Oh yea. Haha.” I quietly try to shut the squeaky pantry door so she can’t tell I was looking in entirely the wrong place. I had looked in about seven other wrong places already. I knew it was the top shelf of somewhere.

Adi, go upstairs! Lets give you a bath!” Adi makes a beeline for the stairs. She loves baths and I don’t mind giving her baths because she’s confined to the tub. It buys me ten minutes or more where I can do other things, like write blogs.

I was given vague instructions to put half a cup or so of vinegar in the bath water. I let several glugs out of the bottle. Then I realize I didn’t have the drain closed which meant the vinegar went straight down the drain. I put a couple more glugs in the bathtub for good measure. When I get Adi out, she smells like she rolled around in a bucket of French fries at the county fair. Maybe I should sprinkle her with Epsom salts yet. Hey, she can smell like skunk farts as long as I can sleep soundly and undisturbed in the other room.

I pull Adi out of tub and dry her off. She immediately begins clawing the walls and swinging from our cheap light fixtures. Cheap light fixtures don’t handle swinging toddlers well so I try to intercept her. It’s like trying to catch a rubber bouncy ball fired out of a cannon. You have to calculate the angle of ricochet before it occurs and then place yourself in the path of the toddler, trapping her with a towel so her feet get tangled up and forward momentum stops. Then you have to wrestle a pamper and a sleeper over her flailing limbs while having a something like a fire siren blasting intermittently in your ear. For some reason Adi always fights back when you try to put clothes on her.

Half an hour later, Adi is sleeping! That’s nothing short of a miracle. It’s not unusual for her to lay there for two hours before falling asleep. She insists on holding my hand the whole time. Sometimes, in a desperate attempt to free up my hands to do other things, I stick my foot between the crib slats and hope she thinks my toes are fingers.

“Hold daddy’s hand,” I whisper.

I feel a finger wrap around my big toe. “AAAAAAAAAA!” She catches on to that pretty fast so I give my hand back to her, sigh, then hold my phone with my other hand and watch more YouTube videos of ATVs tumbling down cliffs to pass the time until she falls asleep.



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