We are reading "Farmer Boy" together as a family for our read-aloud everyday. As I was reading one day, after our trip to Grandmama's and Grandaddy's, I was simple amazed by a part of the story between Almanzo and his Father, a nickel and some lemonade.
Almanzo wanted to have a cup of lemonade at the Independence Day celebration and is dared by his friends to ask his father for a nickel. Almanzo is scared to ask him for money but when he dares ask, this is what his father said, as he was pulling out a round, big silver-half dollar, "Almanzo, do you know what this is?"
"Half a dollar," Almanzo answered.
"Yes. But do you know what half a dollar is?"
Almanzo didn't know it was anything but half a dollar.
"It's work, son," Father said. "That's what money is; it's hard work."
"You know how to raise potatoes, Almanzo?"
"Yes," Almanzo said.
"Say you have a seed potato in the spring, what do you do with it?"
"You cut it up," Almanzo said.
"Go on, son."
"Then you harrow-first you manure the field, and plow it. Then you harrow, and mark the ground. And plant the potatoes, and plow them, and hoe them. You plow and hoe them twice."
"That's right, son. And then?"
"Then you dig them and put them down the cellar."
"Yes. Then you pick them over all winter; you throw out all the little ones and the rotten ones. Come spring, you load them up and haul them here to Malone, and you sell them. And if you get a good price son how much do you get to show for all that work? How much do you get for half a bushel of potatoes?"
"Half a dollar, " said Almanzo
"Yes" said Father. "That's what's in this half-dollar Almanzo. The work that raised half a bushel of potatoes is in it."
Almanzo looked at the round piece of money that Father held up. It looked small, compared with all that work.Father summed up the lesson I want my children to learn. That money comes from work, that the things in life, like lemonade are not what we spend our hard earned money on.
I love our simple life and am content with what we have, my children thrive in our home and on our land, things are peaceful and desires are mildly enticed until we go to the home of those who have everything. Then desires are strongly enticed, attitudes of our life and how we live "change," the common phrase of unfairness is heard, "why can't we have this/that," is called from the backseat, and pools of tear well up in my children's eyes as lusts of material things overtake them. Many times it effects me also, I begin to see my craigslist finds as others' cast-offs and the search for those cast-offs as a never-ending treasure hunt.
I forget about the joy I get from finding great deals, the love I have for searching through junk to find a treasure and the satisfaction I see when my children refuse to buy a new possession, instead wanting to search for a used one.
Corey and I remind ourselves every night that we want to raise our children in simplicity. Teaching that giving is more important then receiving, that we are to be sowers not takers, and blessings to others.
I loved this day, my children loved this day. As we eat potatoes each night, they remember working along side their grandparents, aunt and cousins, siblings and parents, digging through the earth for food that sits on our table. As we pass along bags filled with potatoes to neighbors they learn how to give.
With each bushel that was pulled from the ground that day, my kids were amazed at how many potatoes could be pulled from the earth. How growing your own is healthier, smarter, and better all around. They look at the price of potatoes in the store and realize "look what work gives us." What God intended after the fall, labor and hard work, reaps rewards and benefits.
And they learn family helps family. Not just the ones we see everyday but the ones that came before us and the ones that come after us. The ones that share our blood and the ones that hold our hearts. The ones that we adopt and the ones that God chose for us.
The lessons of potato farming are many.