Catapult to feed the Chickens

There are rarely days when Ben is not dressed as some sort of Knight.

This is Ben helping in the garden. It had been a quiet couple of hours in the garden weeding. Already, I had pulled several buckets full of weeds to fill an entire wheelbarrow. It’s been raining in Southern Oregon, so everything is blooming, most dramatically – the weeds. I love how quiet and peaceful it is in the garden early in the morning, before anyone else is awake. There are the cows in the field near me munching on grasses, there is the sound of the water lines slowly dribbling water droplets to nearly each and every plant, and there is literally the sound of life stretching into being in the garden. It is not a sound that is easy to describe, but tomato plants are standing tall and full, strawberries are bushing out and starting to show baby plants, the peas are blooming, and corn stalks make noise just sitting there they are growing so fast. I meander from row to row pulling up weeds, checking on the health of all the plants, moving the hose around to the different mounds of squash. I am feeling accomplished and whole. Gardening is centering and deeply fulfilling to this beginning gardener.

Then Ben arrives. He is eight-years old and bursting at every seam with energy. He races into the middle of the garden, arriving out of breath he’s in such a hurry, and starts talking a mile a minute about how he’s here to help, because he loves gardening so much, and he can pull weeds, or he can grab a shovel and dig something up for me if I want, or what about a rake to move some of these chips? “And you know what I was thinking?” And it doesn’t really have an end in sight. The day has begun, and Ben has lots to say. Serenity is gone in a flood of words spoken at high volume, in a rush, tumbling over one another to get out. I love that he has so much he wants to share with me. I love that he is eager to help. There is no way I want to stop him. I just wish we could come to an agreement on the rate, pace, pitch or volume. It’s time for me to speed up my ability to hear, and be ready to be attentive.

He asks if he can take the wheelbarrow of weeds over to feed them to the chickens, and I say yes, to give myself just one or two more rows of quiet weeding before going in for a rowdy, crazy, non-stop words breakfast with the family.

As I come around the corner of the house, I see Ben in the Chicken Coop with an over-sized shovel. The chickens are scurrying around frazzled. Bean is on the outside cheering his brother on, and Ben is howling about what a brilliant idea this was to feed the chickens by creating a catapult out of a shovel and the wheelbarrow. He has been trying to fling the weeds up and over the chicken coop fencing. He wants to be a knight. He wants to joust and sword fight. He is scaring my chickens into a frenzy. It’s all good. I get him out and scatter some of the juicy, succulent weeds as tasty snacks for my chickens, and Ben and Bean and I go in for some Blackberry filled pancakes made by daddy. We are ready for our day!

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