We have two kids: Bridget, who is 4.5, and Finn, who is just a year. Farming with children has always been an adventure and a challenge – I wish I could go back and pat sweet, naïve 2015 me on the shoulder, she had no idea what she was in for – but the pandemic put the kibosh on our very-part-time childcare situation and now it’s all babies, all the time around here.
It has been interesting. We don’t live where we farm, so there’s no taking the kids inside for lunch or a nap. And believe me, these kids need their naps! But toting them along with us is also giving them the opportunity to develop their independent play skills. They get to see us working hard at something that matters to us, and Bridget gets to help out as often as we can manage to come up with tasks for her.
Last week, for example, we planted potatoes. Cian dug the holes, and I carried the bucket of seed potatoes in my hands and the baby on my back. Bridget walked between us, dropping the seed potatoes and patting down the soil around them. We could have gotten it done a lot faster with just the two of us – heck, one of use could have gotten it done faster working alone. But for about 15 minutes, Bridget was engaged and learning about plants and insects and what it takes to feed a community; we felt proud, in that moment, to be growing little citizens right alongside your vegetables.
Then she ran off to pick dandelions, but that, too, is the work of childhood.