Photo by Kristy Rammel
“Jacked up” can be defined as being full of excitement and nervousness or being overly stimulated, but on our homestead, it’s a term of endearment used to describe the qualities of my foreman, Jack. Standing a mere 3 feet tall, he’s 40 pounds of energy and vigor. He’s also an independent, challenging, strong-willed walking hazard!
Jack-Jack, as he’s also known, is No. 4 in the child line-up, and by the time he arrived, I was an old pro. I could change diapers in the dark, one-handed, while simultaneously making a bottle with the other. I knew what every infant cry meant, how to child-proof a house and was a self-proclaimed expert on all things baby. Oh, how I laugh at myself now.
Entire volumes can be written about my Jack-Jack, and someday I probably will. He’s managed to break every rule regarding child rearing, (as well as most of my tools, glasses and electronics), but as my foreman, he possesses the qualities required to get farm jobs done.
Regardless of what time your work day actually begins, at some point, we all fall victim to distractions. Whether we’re list makers, Post-it professionals or organizational gurus, we try to find ways to streamline our day and be more productive, but at some point, we get sucked into the black hole of the Internet, jerked into the office-gossip vortex, or squander away hours searching for misplaced items. Luckily my foreman is capable of seeing these times of chaos and provides solutions.
“Jack-Jack, did you glue Mommy’s garden gloves to the shovel?”
“’Cause you keep losing your gloves!”
How can you argue with that type of logic? He’s right. I do often misplace my gloves. Actually, he usually misplaces my gloves, but I digress. Increase production—check!
Demanding Respect from Subordinates
This past spring we purchased 25 to 30 quail. They were only a few days old and had to be kept in the only draft-free, child-free room in the house: my bathroom.
Because the quail were so tiny and fragile, we installed a latch at the top of the door to keep our little “helpers” out! One day, when my husband was at work and the older kids in school, Jack and I were outside watering plants. Jack made an excuse to “run inside for just a minute” to grab something. I waited right outside as one minute rolled into two, and two minutes started to become three.
“Jack!” I hollered as I walked through the back door.
“I’m here, Momma,” he responds from the general direction of my bedroom. “But don’t come in!”
Oh OK! Like that’s gonna happen!
As I enter my bedroom, I see a pile of pillows and toys stacked in front of my bathroom door, which is now unlocked! How long had he been planning this? Genius! Bad, but truly genius!
In the bathroom I see a small box on the floor containing three baby quail.
“What are you doing Jack?” I ask him. “I’ve told you not to play with the quail; they’re too little! You could hurt them!”
“Oh noooooo Momma! Those babies were being mean, not me!” he exclaims as he points to the box-o-quail. “So I put them in time out!”
A Blueprint for Future Growth
Finally, Jack has successfully proven himself in the areas of farm planning and expansion by implementing his own planting schedule.
As the end of the year is rapidly approaching, most of us have harvested our summer gardens and planted our winter ones. I, too, harvested any remains from summer’s bounty and planted my winter treats months ago, but I was not alone when I did this. Therefore now, in mid-November, I have a lone cucumber plant yielding the most beautiful fruit. Of course, because it was planted by my foreman, it’s taking up residence in the middle of a garden path. Garden planning and expansion—check and check!
The sudden clatter outside and a quick glimpse out the window suggests my time with you must come to an end. It would appear Jack is, once again, “disciplining” the roosters for being “mean” to the hens—I guess this would fall under “animal population control” in his job description.
But before I take the roosters out of time out, let me leave you with this thought: Everything is a matter of perspective. For today, just outside a tiny town, on a tiny homestead, lives a tiny cucumber plant. Although it’s growing out of season, in the middle of a path, it was planted with a lot of love, and tonight we will have garden fresh cucumbers in our salad. Now that is “Jacked up!”