Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

(When we last left our hero he was in the front yard gussying up the place for his front yard wedding)

Good morning from Grandin Village. I had the honor and privilege of waking up every hour last night for reasons unbeknownst to me. Was it the rigorous workout in the front yard yesterday? Or perhaps the allergy pill I took? Maybe the chocolate I ate right before bed? I suppose the cause matters little to my tired old body this morning. If the reason for my insomnia was the rigorous workout I had yesterday, then I will happily suffer through a lazy Sunday to have had the opportunity to spend the day working with my 12 year old grandson, Ryan.

The little fella is of slight build-weighing in at a paltry 80 pounds. But he is at that age where he still likes to come and hang around at Papa and Nana's house because there's always something going on. He helped me plant my green beans last year. With a little help from me, he turned over the soil with a shovel, raked the area smooth and used a hoe to scratch out a furrow where he then laid the bean seeds. After carefully covering them with soil and tamping down the dirt on top of them, he opened the garden gate to leave and was promptly run over by three adult boxer dogs as they stampeded into the garden area which is forbidden ground for canines.

Lilly, Casey and Cody began a doggie romp through the garden that did not end until they had trampled the four rows of freshly planted beans. Weeks later, when the seedlings emerged, it looked as if a drunken sailor had planted them. There was no resemblance of the straight rows that Ryan had so carefully planted but rather a cacophony of bean plants sprouting up at will wherever the 12 paws of the dogs had moved them to in what is now referred to as 'the great stampede of 2011'.

Yesterday's work was a much more quiet episode as the dogs were restricted to watching the goings on from the front window with their already flat faces pressed sadly against the glass, unable to take part in what looked to them like great fun. They watched jealously as Ryan and I dug several deep holes in the front lawn to plant two more posts in concrete for our now famous picket fence project. They, no doubt, wondered why it was okay for us to dig in the front yard while they received severe scoldings for doing the exact same thing in the back yard. We worked for about 5 hours together, talking about school, his step-brothers and sisters, his recent birthday party-and I sprinkled in some post hole digging and post setting instruction as we talked. It was a happy day for me as the young sprite indulged me by listening to my ramblings about the good old days of my youth baling hay on a dairy farm back in New Jersey when I was scarcely older than he is now.

The day was a classic moment in the history of the McNeish family as I passed down a bit of outdoor wisdom to my grandson. Pulling the young lad away from his ipod and earbuds long enough to teach him to work with a digging bar and a set of post hole diggers will hopefully be among the precious childhood memories that he will conjure up after I am long gone and he is reminiscing one day in his 50's. I hope to pass on to him the connection with the earth that I have held dear my whole life-a connection that, sadly, is mostly lost to this new generation who loves their video games and electronic gadgets.

I hope to sound down this simple fact into the heart and soul of my modern grandchildren: 'Despite all of the technological advances of this modern age, we still owe our existence to six inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains'.
Until next time, keep your hands in the dirt and your heart in the garden.

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