Tag Archives: farm

Apples, Apples, Who Has the Apples?

“Sometimes, if you listen carefully as you take a big bite of a crisp apple
picked from one of Johnny’s trees, you may just hear the story of
Johnny Appleseed carried by the voice of a cool autumn breeze.”
from The Story of John Chapman, adapted by Amy Friedman

When I was young and full of energy and impossible dreams, I started my profession as an educator in a public elementary school. As the new kid on the block I was named Student Council advisor. It was my job to herd 12 fifth graders as they ‘lead’ the school’s student body (kindergartners and all).

The first big task of the year was to coordinate ‘The Big Bite’. This was an annual event celebrating Johnny Appleseed’s birthday. Each man, woman and child in our school received an apple, then headed to the playground as they listened to Johnny’s story and counted down to the Big Bite that would rock our city with crisp loudness.

I must say I was overwhelmed. It was difficult enough to start a new job, but now I was meeting with students before school, during my prep time and after school to coordinate this event. Johnny Appleseed’s birthday is on September 26th so we had little time to make posters, communicate with teachers, write speeches for the daily announcements, organize a master of ceremonies for the event and figure out how we were going to distribute 450 apples to everyone in the school.

All too soon the big day arrived. I was so proud. The students and I had worked hard and everything was ready. At about 10:00 in the morning the principal walked into my room and asked me, “Where are the apples?” I stared at her with a stupefied expression and thought, “Apples?” I went to my clipboard to refer to my list. Master of Ceremonies…check. Schedule to teachers about the event… check. Students to distribute apples at 2:45… check. Apples. Apples? No apples on the list.

Seems I forgot all about the apples.

I looked at my principal and said, “The apples have not been delivered yet.” What I didn’t say to her was, “The apples have not been ordered…yet.”

Sometimes you are faced with challenges which prove you should have stayed in bed that day. Then I heard my dad’s voice in my head, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Great. My survival at this point was definitely questionable.

I went to a phone book and started calling grocery stores. I could purchase 5 pound bags of apples (with about 12 to 14 apples per bag for $2.99). This avenue would take me over my $37.50 budget but at this point I was ready to do anything to get those apples. Then I remembered, we live in an area with apple orchards. I called a local apple farm and the conversation went something like this:

Apple Farm:  “Hello”
Me: “Hi. I am representing an elementary school and we would like to purchase 450 apples for an event at school. Could you give me some prices.”
Apple Farm: “What size apples?”
Me: “Small, very small.”
Apple Farm: “That would be $40.00.”
Me: “Great! I will take them.”
Apple Farm: “When do you need the apples by?”
Me: “I need them by noon today. You see, I am in charge of Johnny Appleseeds birthday at our school and I forgot to order the apples. I know, it is ridiculous, but I could use any help you can give me.”
Apple Farm: {Long pause…}”I think we can manage that.”

How lucky am I? I was able to use my 30 minute lunch period to race to the orchard, load the apples in my car and transport them back to school before my students arrived in my room from recess.

The big bite went off without a hitch that day. As the students and staff ate their apples I thought about the day, my life and the help of strangers. We are better together.


Don’t Take this Bull by the Horns

My little brother is a businessman by day and farmer/budding cowboy by night. Why does this make me smile? Growing up we were the quintessential big city kids.

Every summer he anticipated our trip to the prairies where he could explore his western roots. Those visits were an all inclusive vacation package for him. He loved farm food, farm hours, farm chores with the side benefit of tractors, horses, guns, dogs, barn cats, cattle, cowboy boots and overalls. Manure was the smell of money or so he told me. I thought it was the smell of p and u.

Living his dream he moved his family into the country. Now he does morning chores before the sun rises, drives to the office for a full day of work then comes home to evening chores after the sun sets. He has dogs, cats, chickens, horses, a small herd of cattle and in particular, this one bull.

He didn’t always have a bull. When he first purchased his cattle his daughters and wife named them. They were so little and cute. Every night after work, he would enter the pasture and shake a bucket of grain. The cows, hearing this, would come over to feed. As the days passed they grew in size. One night he was shaking the bucket when a small stampede started and he survived the bovine assault by completing a perfect Fosbury Flop over the barbed wire fence. He called to tell me he survived the fall, he would have won the state track meet with that jump and that the grain shaking practice had been eliminated.

Many years later, he is getting quite experienced. With hunting season approaching he decided to move his bull to a neighbor’s pasture because his farm is adjacent a county highway and on occasion hunters have mistaken his cattle for deer…or so they have said. I think they were just irritated because this bull looks you in the eye as if challenging you to do something stupid.

On the day of the big move, he enticed his bull into a pen closing the gate behind. When all looked calm he climbed over the gate, entered the pen and proceeded quickly to the other side. He told me running with the bulls has taken on a whole new meaning for him.