Friday, October 29, 2021

Home Renovation: Part 1

We’ve begun a small home renovation project.

Long story short, I got tired of wearing mud boots and waders to the farmhouse basement to begin a load of laundry, then praying I didn’t get electrocuted when I pushed the start button. Cody got tired of reading the Angus Journal in his recliner with a February wind blowing through the living room. Caroline got tired of sharing a 7’ x 10’ bedroom with a little brother who has no respect for toy horses. And Cyrus was just ready to see someone else tear the house down and not get reprimanded.

We’re early in the process.

The renovation is taking place feet from the kids’ playset in the backyard. They’ve spent hours swinging and asking questions. If the builder doesn’t finish on time, it won’t be due to delay in supplies or lack of labor; it will be because Cyrus questions their every move and he’s got a bit of a speech barrier. It takes the little guy a full minute to ask the question, three minutes for the workers to translate it, and five minutes for them to explain the work to him. The crew gave him a hat and a foremen’s pencil, so Cyrus is working his way up the management ladder, which is a pretty big deal for a kid who still wears Velcro shoes.

Caroline has shed many tears about this renovation. She doesn’t understand why we would want to make changes to a homestead such as this. She appreciates having carpet so worn out and stained that when she often forgets to take off her chore boots - and tracks (who knows what) across the house - her muddy prints can barely be seen. She loves that she can load her horse trailer in the kitchen and the floors are so uneven that it will roll on its own to the living room. She looks forward to  helping me load the washer in the basement and watch frogs jump across her boots. She adores the fact that when the north winter wind blows in, the windows open on their own and offer her fresh air in her bedroom. She is an eternal optimist who sees the beauty of every situation…except home renovations which threaten familiarity.

County records indicate that our house was built in 1920. Six weeks into the project, a postcard dated 1885 was found in the northeast wall. No wonder the basement floods! This place was built on Miami soil and dinosaur bones. The hand-hewn beams and wooden pegs have withstood many weathering years atop this hill, bearing witness to change, very few family names, and a whole lot of livestock. Today, we’re making a couple improvements to more so enjoy the place we call home.

Thus far we’ve explained in great detail septic tanks, wet t-shirts on grown men (it’s been a warm fall), and when it’s appropriate to hammer through a wall, versus when it is not (CYRUS!!). Caroline is currently in hysterics over the project because she came home to find windows gone and plywood in their place.

“You can’t even look out these new windows! They gave us wood windows!” She is five. I have little hope age fifteen will offer less passion and emotion.

We were so close to getting Cyrus completely potty-trained, then this renovation project began and now he just can’t take care of business while there’s men walking and talking on the roof above the commode.

Can you blame the kid? Stay tuned. We’re just getting started.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Bike Race

We were vaccinating steers and heifers on Saturday morning when an unfamiliar truck with Ohio plates pulled into the driveway. A couple got out and I suddenly realized it was beef customers from Hamilton, Ohio. They buy freezer beef from us annually and make it a point to drop off the payment in-person. I always enjoy the brief visit; they often have many good questions about farm life. 

They mentioned that there was a bike race going on just down the road and it looked like quite an ordeal. I hadn’t left the farm yet that day, so I didn’t know what they were referencing. I did mention that Highway 35 isn’t necessarily a road bicyclists should be traveling! They went on to say the entire road was blocked off to traffic


After they left, we finished our vaccination work and turned everything back out to their respective lots. I mentioned the apparent bike race to Cody and we decided to go see what all the commotion is about. We loaded up into the ranger and drove to the intersection of Highway 35 and  State Road 1. 


A “bike race” might have been an understatement. 


The shoulder was lined with vehicles with out-of-state plates. There were hundreds of bicyclists passing through the intersection as bystanders cheered them on. There were countless American flags and collegiate flags being waved. “The Eye of the Tiger” was blaring from some far-off place and there was a tent with dozens of workers passing out water. 


“What in the world is going on here?” I asked as all four of us watched with our mouths open. It was quite the event in northwestern Wayne County!


“What are they doing?” Caroline asked. 


“I guess they’re racing their bikes,” I responded, though not totally sold on my answer as the bike traffic was moving both directions.


“Why dey do dat?” Cyrus asked in his broken speech. 


“Because they’re nuts,” I told him


I got out of the ranger and walked over to a couple sitting in lawn chairs, holding encouragement signsand eating donuts. I asked them about the spectacle. 


“Do you know what this is all about?” I asked. “We farm just down the road and we drove down to see what all the excitement was about,” I explained. 


The man began, “It’s a triathlon today.”


And the lady next to him quickly followed up with more impressive details. “This is the Iron Man!” she exclaimed. “Swim, bike and run all in the same day.”


A lady next to her, wearing an Ohio State sweatshirt,finished the details explaining, “They already did a 2.4-mile swim at the reservoirthis is the 112-mile bicycle ride, and they finish with a 26.22-mile run.”


I almost passed out this trying to process this information. 


I thought we were doing pretty good, having already had breakfast, chored and processed 25 head of cattle in a morning. These hundreds of strangers were pushing their body to the max in the name of personal health and apparent enjoyment of pain


We sat and watched the event for a long time, in awe of the bikes, attire and cheering clubs. 


“I think if I was going to swim across a lake and then ride my bike for a hundred miles, the last thing I’d want to see is my family eating a box of donuts in a lawn chair with my face on their sweatshirt,” Cody said, still in disbelief of what we were witnessing. 


There was not a single person that appeared to be tired. If I was in the race I’d have to pull over and pretend to check the air pressure in my bike tires every five miles just so I could catch my breath. 


And don’t even ask me to swim in a reservoir. I get nervous in the bathtub. 


The sun went behind clouds, and it began to get dark. Caroline became instantly worried about the bikers who were about to get rained on. 


“Can you even think about riding a bike in the rain?” she asked. 


“Sis, I think the rain might feel good on them. They’ve got to be hot doing all of this exercise,” I tried to calm her concern. 


“Check the radar,” Cody said as we drove up the hill, heading back home.


“Are you worried about the bikers, too, Daddy?” I asked. 


I was more worried about if you and I can still grill out tonight.”


Folks, those are words of affirmation.