Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Greer Farm, We Love You

For 7 weeks I counted down my one and only vacation this summer.
For 7 weeks the children asked daily if it was time to go to the farm.
For about a week before we went I even sent Mr. Greer many emails about what to expect, where to get fresh veggies, what to expect….etc. I am sure he thought I was a little too excited. Haha.
The night before leaving I could not sleep at all. Chad found me at 3 am on the Greer Farm blog. I know he thought I was a little too excited. I suppose I was.
You know when you have high expectations about something only to have those expectations come crashing down? I was a little concerned that would happen.
Quite the opposite. I was blown away, my expectations were nothing compared to what we experienced as a family. So much so, that this blog is going to have chapters. Haha. Yes, I am a bit of a dork….but so many people are waiting to hear about my experience so that they could book a weekend. So I am going to share them in my own Kandi way…details and probably more than you ever wanted to know.
This is for the 5-6 of you who really wanted to know what it was like. You will meet through pictures friends we made, not all human. You will be given trips for your trip. You will be introduced to the little weekend that I discovered once again what happiness is.

Chapter 1: The Drive (this will be short, don’t worry).
I could not get out of the house fast enough. Neither could Andrew considering he woke up way earlier than usual with the first words coming out of his mouth being “Today we go to the farm!!!”. I had prepared a bag for each kid that consisted of a juice box, a sandwich, grapes, paper, markers, and a map drawn by me with the few major towns that we would pass. The map was because children love to ask “when are we going to get there?”
Andrew traced the line between towns with a different color once we hit each new big town. It was a great idea because he got it, he knew when we had a long way to go and when we were getting super close. Jordan tried but she would just rather play with her toys.
3.5 hours later, we arrived. It would have been sooner but we hit construction.

Chapter 2: Our 1st Day

Upon pulling into the driveway, Sid Greer arrived on his golf cart to greet us. Into the house we went to check in. As beautiful as the house was, he was not even a tad bit worried that immediately my kids wanted to investigate the cool stuff that homes over a hundred years old have, like old door knobs that you can peek through and the like. The kids found themselves in the kitchen to be greeted by mounds of different types of tomatoes. Sid (Mr. Greer) decided to load Andrew’s hands up with tomatoes and told him to share.

We were then told to follow him to our cabin. He welcomed the kids when they asked if they could ride with him (and made a witty comment about if he could fit so and so it could fit the two of them. Haha). Andrew was so excited, and as he was getting into the golf cart he asked if he could eat the tomato, I said of course. Like an apple he chowed down and his sister followed his lead (but she waited for salt back at the cabin after a few bites).
The cabin was lovely and honestly not as small as I had expected. A nice sized bathroom. No bath, but a large shower with a high and lower removable shower head. It was just the kids’ size so them taking a shower was no big deal. Now getting sand out of little crevices was a big deal.

While Chad went to the grocery store to get meat and such, the three of us explored. We spotted Eva (Mrs. Greer, Chef Eva) across the lawn with a friend; they were working in the yard. Andrew really wanted to meet her; he had never seen a GIRL chef. Haha. So we headed over and after she said her goodbyes to her lovely friend, she got to know us a bit and walked Andrew around her herb garden. Some herbs he knew and some he didn’t. We all learned something. She told us about her two goats that were their pets. The kids wanted to meet them so we headed over to the barn. After seeing that the kids were completely comfortable with these two goats, and since Eva is obviously a busy woman, she headed back to work and the kids stayed and played with Flopsy and Lightening (Lightening likes to munch on clothes, Flopsy just goes with the flow). After about 15 minutes we said our goodbyes to the goats (and hens, and geese) and walked back to the cabin. Andrew had a few herbs he had picked snuggly in his pocket along with a rock, a leaf and who knows what else.

A couple hours later while we were inside cooling off, we had a knock on the door. Sid was letting us know that it was time to gather eggs and feed the goats. Shoes on and out the door in 5 seconds flat. Another family showed up during this time, so there were 5 kids all wanting to gather eggs. Some wanted to touch the hens yet Jordan did NOT. I have to say that Sid is a patient man. That or he just pretends to be. Those kids were all over the place!

It was a long day so we decided to explore (and try our hand at fishing) some more then start talking about dinner since it was already 6 o’clock. Hot dogs and s’mores were featured.

Chapter 3: Day two-The Best Day

After a yummy breakfast of farm fresh eggs and sausage, we were ready to start our long day.
Jordan wanted to pick berries, and I was pretty pumped about it too. I knew, though, that I shouldn’t expect too much. It was hot and Jordan tends to get grumpy in heat. She and I got our sunglasses and off we went. The guys were getting ready to head up to the house to reserve a boat for the morning and then to try their hand at fishing.
A small walk up the road and we were there ready to pick berries. We grabbed a wagon and some buckets and started out adventure. Blueberries first. It was so much fun. Seriously. Jordan and I talked, bonded, oohed and awed over berries. And most of the time Jordan had more berries going in her mouth than in her bucket. We complimented each other’s berry picking skills and how lovely the day was. Lot’s of proper conversation with sentences ending with dahling and dear. The blackberries were beautiful and stained Jordan’s teeth quite nicely. I also saw why they had gloves up front, I had no idea that blackberry stems had thorns. So make a note when you plan your trip to maybe bring gloves for little hands. Jordan did fine though, and we had an agreement that I got the hard to get berries and she got the safe ones. After an hour she was not ready to leave yet, so we stayed a bit longer but had to stop. I still had to walk with her and the berries that we picked back up to the house to be weighed. All 7 pounds! I saw some people picking more, but Jordan and I were very proud of what we got and even more proud of what a great time we had bonding. I get teary eyed typing this, she made me so proud that morning.

We saw the guys off in the distance fishing as we walked up to the farmhouse. Upon ringing the doorbell, Mr. Greer weighed our farm booty (that’s me trying to be funny) and Mrs. Greer called from inside to have me take some photos of her table setting that she was preparing for a dinner party that evening (I wonder how that went?). So Jordan and I headed into the house. We talked as I took a few pictures (wish I had my other lens with me, but I worked with what I had).

Mrs. Greer asked where Andrew was because she wanted his help making blackberry limeade (she knows that he wants to be a chef one day). He was fishing so she asked Jordan. Jordan’s job was to juice the limes, and she juiced MANY! While Jordan was juicing and munching on the berries in front of her, Mr. Greer invited me to look at some photos that were taken recently on the farm. Awesome awesome photos. I don’t know if I can give details about them so I won’t. But So cool. Then back to the kitchen where J was still juicing.
Let me stop to say something (ok, I know I have said so much already…hush). The Greers are incredible people. From what I have read, they have a pretty cool and cultured history. They have done and seen so much. They know about other cultures and foods and people. So to have them invite my family into their home and take that time means more than words can say. From the outside you think simple small town farm people. But there is so much more wisdom and history there that they are more than what could ever be described. Talking with them I wanted to in the beginning I guess….impress them? Maybe not impress but maybe prove myself. When finally, standing there in the kitchen I decided to just shut up and listen. Not try to know everything but to step back and be quiet for once and learn, listen, watch, and absorb the moment. Observe my almost 4 year old daughter being so serious in juicing her limes, and her berry stained mouth. To observe this kitchen I was standing in and the people coming and going. Take in everything, this moment. Because as simple as it may seem to others to stay on a farm (they would much rather do something for extravagant), this was in itself a reason to make me slow down. Learn. Appreciate. Ok…back to my story.
In the kitchen I learned how to make blackberry limeade, tasted blackberry cobbler and was introduced to tomato pie that really made me happy (I have made two pies already!). Soon it was time to go, Mrs. Greer had to finish prepping for that evening and we wanted to let the guys know that we were alive. We said our goodbyes.

The boys had caught a fish! Yeah! A little one but we were proud! It was almost 11:30 and had only half an hour left on the boat, so Jordan and I headed out to use the paddle boat. We paddled, were yelled at by the geese and after a while Andrew joined us. Lunch time.

After lunch I wanted to try to read one of the 3 books I had brought from the library, so while the kids watched their one movie of the weekend and Chad chilled…I headed outside with my book. But you know what? I got sidetracked by a little caterpillar trying to make his way through the forest we call grass. Then I stopped to smell the outdoors. Nope, I wasn’t going to read a book. I was going to savor this weekend. So I lay in the grass looking at the lake, listening to the birds, watching the random bugs and animals passing by. I did get some reading done after a while, the cabins are filled with cool magazines like Texas Monthly and the like. So I read an article on King Ranch. Pretty interesting history there.
Mr. Greer had told us about a local market to pick up fresh produce, and since we needed a few things for burgers that night, we headed out. Efurd Orchards was not too far up the road. Totally worth it for a taste of their homemade peach ice cream. Oh yum. After picking up a few essentials, we headed back to the cabin. Time for more play! We headed across the little lake to the beach side. Daddy and Andrew fished while J and I played in the water. It was then that Andrew caught his first fish! You should have seen his smile. He was pretty darn proud of himself. I was proud too.

I also haven’t mentioned a very special friend we made. Tux. He is the Greer’s dog who likes to play with the guests. And every day around 5 or 6, Mr. Greer comes driving by in his golf cart looking for Tux. He takes him back for a rinse off (Tux likes to lay in the shallow part of the lake) and Tux is right back that night with stick in mouth. He drops the stick, you throw it, he gets it, drops it, you throw it, etc.
This night Tux wanted to hang with us. So the kids played with him outside while Chad and I were getting the fire ready and burger patties made. We ate dinner outside (yummy greasy burgers too) and listened to music, danced, talked, laughed….just enjoyed each other. I made a delicious and easy dessert for that night. Simple canned flaky biscuits separated to thin biscuits patted with butter and sugar and baked until crisp. Then a simple blueberry topping (butter, sugar, blueberries heated until syrupy)…but we needed something else. Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice-cream. Yum. I think I gained a few pounds this weekend.
Time for bed. Tux made his way up on our porch.

Chapter 4: Day 3 Our Departure
Wanting to have some alone time and watch the sun rise, at 5:20am I got dressed and grabbed my camera for a morning walk. It was still dark, so when I opened the door I heard a noise on the front porch. I just KNEW it was a crazy raccoon about to jump on me. But it was Tux. With his stick. He dropped it in front of me and I threw it…haha. You get it. So Tux and I walked and walked. We sat and watched the sun rise, we told the other animals good morning…and after about an hour, we headed back to the cabin.

No one was expected to be at our cabin until Tuesday, so Mr. Greer let us know that we could stay as late as we wanted. So we all headed out to pick berries again, this time for Mrs. Greer who Jordan overheard that she never has time to pick them herself.

It was hot already, so were there for a short time. We had also reserved a boat for the morning but after 20 minutes on the paddle boat we drenched with sweat. Everyone was ready to get inside. The kids missed their own dog, so we decided to head out anyway. We loaded up, went to the house to return the key and pay for our boat rentals.
I wanted to give Sid a big ol’ hug, but I realized that not everyone is as touchy as me, so I just said thank you and goodbye.
In closing, this goes out to The Greer’s and everyone else that makes the Greer Farm what it is.
Thank you. Thank you for your hospitality. Thank you for sharing your land. Thank you for making my one weekend I had open completely worth it. Chad even told me on our last day, as he hugged me, “thank you for planning this weekend. We as a family really needed this. I can’t wait to come back”. Chad is a man of few words, so this melted my heart. Thank you, and a big virtual hug to Sid and Eva.. Oh, and we owe you for the berries. Once in the car I realized we didn’t pay you for Saturday’s picking. We will pay you for them.
Now off to whiten my berry stained teeth


Andi said...

WOW, Kandice, this trip sounds awesome! I am so glad you were able to take the time for a vacation with your all deserve it!

Rhonda said...

Looks like a great time. Beautiful pictures!

Tasha said...

What a beautiful trip!! I'm so glad ya'll had a wonderful time!!