Saturday, May 30, 2009

Does a body good

Early this morning, Jack and I ran up to the Liberty Farmers Market on the town square to buy some honey from the nearby Mennonites. We’d been out of it for a couple days and Leslie uses it in the apple cider vinegar that she drinks each day. (Blecch!) Sure, we could’ve gone to the brand new grocery store just two minutes away!! but it’s a fun experience and hopefully the locally produced honey might help my allergies a bit.

But even better than our new jar of natural sweetness, was who we ran in to on the sidewalk: two longtime family friends from my hometown in Nebraska! (They were in the area visiting their daughters and grandchildren for the weekend.) The husband was actually one of my dad’s pallbearers 17 years ago, and gave me a big bear hug as soon as he saw me. It was a thrill to see them, chat for a bit and catch up on our families. Jackson was impressed that they knew Grandma Nancy, Cici Ninny, Uncle Lance and Aunt Laurie — and amazed that they knew Grandpa Lowell before he was in heaven. Of course, this husband and wife said that both Jack and I look like Dad, and reiterated what a great man he was. They made my day, and it wasn’t even 8 a.m.

* * *

Next up, Leslie had plans to spend the day with her college roommates, so Jack, Landon and I continued to have an awesome “guy day” together. First we went to Jack’s T-ball game at 11 a.m., and his team did really well; I can tell that they’re all improving.

(Don’t think that I’m slacking by not posting any action shots, but when Jack’s team is up to bat, I serve as the batting coach at home plate; and when they’re in the field I was taking care of Landon.)

* * *

I previously had asked Jack what he wanted to do in the afternoon, and he said, “Go to the Shatto place.” So that’s what we did.

Shatto Milk Company is a family owned and operated dairy farm about 30 minutes north of Liberty, that’s gotten really popular for bottling its milk in glass bottles. And for not using bovine growth hormone. And for getting milk from the cow to the store in as little as 12 hours. And for the gourmet taste of all its products like flavored milks, butter, ice cream and now cheese curds. And the list goes on.

I still remember the only other time I’ve taken Jack there, in September 2007. As we got close to the farm and pulled into its parking lot, I rolled down the car windows. Jack took in the fresh air and said, “Mmmm, cows! It smells like I want to eat them!”

Then, after getting out of the car, we walked toward the pasture to get a closer look. Right away Jack declared, “I want to milk a cow.” Unsure of its likeliness, I tried to downplay that possibility by thinking of the employees in the gift shop and barn and saying, “Well ... we’ll have to ask them first.” So Jack suddenly yelled to the cows, “CAN I MILK YOU?!?”

But here are some pics from today.

Mrs. & Mr. (Look closely and you can see the ring in the bull’s nose on the right.)

She's a beaut.

Jack didn’t even have time to make it to the nearest tree.

Photography by Jack.

We planned ahead, and Jack picked out Hostess Cup Cakes to bring with us. So when we were ready to cool off, we both picked out some milk in the country store and devoured it all on the deck. The ultimate snack time!

Shatto’s root beer milk (Jack’s favorite) tastes just like a root beer float.

See the translucent moon in the lower right?

Then it was off to the barn.

Jack spoke right up and asked the farmer if he could milk a cow, and the man was really nice. You could tell he was used to kids and how to help them get comfortable with the livestock.

After lots of practicing together, Jack decided he was ready to try milking her on his own. I was really proud of him for wanting to do it without any help, but just as he prepared to get in position, “Patches” moved her feet slightly ... and Jack quickly changed his mind. Oh well, there’s always next time.

* * *

Wow, what a day. Memories from the past and memories in the making. Though I never would have chosen to get laid off, it’s been an opportunity — that I wouldn’t have had otherwise — to spend extra time with Landon while he’s so little, and with Jack at a stage when he needs some extra guidance.

Before we left Shatto, a woman saw me feeding Landon a bottle (of his kind of milk) and looking after Jackson on my own, without a wife/their mom around. She commented, “Oh, babysitting today, huh?” I looked her straight in the eye and replied, “Nope. Just parenting.”

Just. Parenting.

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