As month five of pregnancy on the farm sets in, I’ve found myself doing what so many pregnant women find themselves doing throughout their pregnancies: Obsessively cleaning and nesting before baby is born.
Like many farm wives, Farmer Dan and I moved onto the farm and into his childhood home when his mom decided to move to town in 2013. During this transition, I found that while there are numerous benefits to moving into your husband’s childhood home, you run the very real risk of inheriting every piece of childhood memorabilia that inevitably accumulates over the course of two decades.
Some of it, like the toy tractors, classic children’s books and animal figures, are cherished mementos that we can’t wait to pass along to the next generation. There are well-worn quilts from grandma that are perfect for snuggling up in at the end of the day, and old threadbare sheets that no longer have a place on the bed, but are ideal to lay down when the farm dog, Bodie, looks longingly through the window and you just can’t resist bringing him inside, dirty paws and all.
Then there’s everything else: The massive collection of misshapen pottery your farmer made in art class, the old mini trampoline that couldn’t possibly pass any of today’s safety ratings, and hundreds of pages of old tests, essays and scribbles that were lovingly kept and stored over the years.
Picking out what to keep and what to discard from childhood was difficult but manageable. What was surprisingly even more challenging was my recent nesting challenge of cleaning out the old farm closet. Full of hand-me-downs and worn work wear, my attempts to purge were repeatedly blocked as I faced indignant protests from my farmer.
Holding up a high school football shirt stained with grease and paint and holes from snagging barbed wire, I started to move toward the rag pile when I was interrupted with a dismayed, “But I wear that every week!”
In response, I held up a clean Carhartt t-shirt that looked suspiciously like it had never been worn. “Well, how about you start wearing this one instead?”
He gave me a wounded look. “But this one is perfectly worn in.” He paused. “But don’t get rid of either of them. I might wear them both – someday.”
This turned out to be a common theme as I moved through baskets of work jeans, long johns, t-shirts, coats, gloves and socks. We eventually came to the agreement that any socks with holes could be made into rags (which took some negotiating on my part) and in return, I would turn a blind eye to his beloved, perfectly worn-in t-shirts. Unexpectedly, I had better luck digging through the tub of free hats from seed companies, banks and sale barns. I’m not sure if it was the late hour or the fact that seed hats are a dime a dozen to a farmer (who, as it turns out, will only wear about three of his favorite hats a year, regardless of how many he owns). Either way, I was able to whittle it down to a mere dozen hats, including a Toby’s Chicken trucker hat that will likely never be worn, but one even I agreed deserved a place of honor in his collection.
My impulsive urge to organize (thanks, pregnancy hormones!) reminded me that you can tell a lot about a person by the things they keep. Going through that old farm closet, I saw proof of what I already knew: I had married a hard-working, loyal farmer who is frugal with himself but generous with others. While we can’t choose which traits we pass down to the next generation, I can only hope these are qualities that our little one picks up – even if that means more holey socks for mom.