One of the challenges that I’d never really thought much about that we would face as our family grew was that we would have choices to be made about what sorts of things we would say yes to outside the things we do at home. Not that we spend our days here in a bubble not engaging with the outside world. Not at all so. We love having a steady stream of people here for one thing or another.
Some of our friends are highly involved and committed to year around sports. While for certain families this works great, it also has the potential to fragment the family quite a bit. Dinners together are the exception instead of the rule. The costs for kids who move beyond recreation-level sports are into the many hundreds of dollars per season. However, even for just 6 weeks of YMCA level, “for fun” soccer for our kids it would have cost us almost $500.
When one child excels in a sport, it’s easy to get excited and put others on the sidelines (literally and figuratively). We’ve watched this play out just this past year in fact. It is harder than I’d have guessed to find things that a family with several children can be involved in together.
Two years ago this fall we happened upon a county wide 4-H meeting near us. We stopped and talked with each club leader for any animals we were interested in. The commitment levels varied a great deal. The personality and “feel” of the groups did as well. We still lived in our tiny rambler with our five children, mostly quite happily. We had chickens and a dog and a cat. We were far from anything that resembled any sort of country, agricultural life. But we signed up anyway. Figuring we could just learn about animals, make some friends and have some fun.
We had no idea what we were in for. We spent that first year learning all sorts of interesting things about dairy goats. But better than that we made some great friends. Grown up ones as well as kid ones. Each of our children were challenged to give presentations to the group. Learning to stand up in front of your peers and share about something is such a helpful lifelong skill.
When we had the opportunity to move part way through that year we found ourselves living at the end of an unmaintained county road with a small pasture already in place. And it happened to be just about kidding season. Three baby goats quickly found their way to our little family farm and into our hearts.
Of course fair season is the culmination of the 4-H year. We didn’t really “get” that the first year. Last year we showed up at one small community fair and had a ball. This year we did the same fair (pictures below!) but had anticipated all year long that we would do the Big One. The full Monty of the fair world around these parts. But it requires its own post which I promise to work on this week. For now, here are some snapshots of us enjoying our time at Silvana together. Even just a one-day, all day event for seven people isn’t a small affair….but it was insanely fun for all of us. Finn included!