Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

Yellow Suns May 10, 2013

Last week, I took the boys to Charlottesville, while I went to Polyface Farm. It was kind of a long car trip, and without another adult in the car, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I always think it’s fine to travel with them on an airplane because I’m not actually driving the device hurtling through space at high speeds and can attend to their needs. In the car, I have to focus. I pulled some CDs to take along, including at toddler music CD and on a whim, I added The Beatles Revolver. They each picked out a book and a friend to bring along. I didn’t bring any snacks, figuring on a potty and crackers stop at some time.

Long, boring story short, they were great in the car. We had traffic and minimal whining. When The Beatles came on, they wanted to change it at first, but I told them it was my music and we were going to listen to it for a change. Then I said, “Maybe you’ll find a song you like on here too.” It wasn’t long before they figured out that Gilbert liked “Yellow Submarine” (or as they call it, number 6) and Seamus liked “Good Day, Sunshine” (number 8). It’s too bad I’m not a huge fan of “She Said” because, as number 7, it gets played a lot now too. Or at least the opening bars do. I’m pleased that they enjoy the songs. Seamus had been acting a little strange lately, moody, unhappy, cranky, etc, and I was already convinced he had childhood depression, but then when he chose “Good Day, Sunshine” for his song, I figured he was just in a 4 year old funk–no can pick that one if they’re depressed. It was pretty exciting to have a road trip with them in which they were fully entertained by their books, music, friends, and the scenery.

After I dropped them off with Nana and PopPop, I headed over to Polyface Farm, a beyond organic farm in western VA. They’re the ones featured on Food, Inc. Our tour guide, Brie, took us around and talked about the different sustainable practices they use on the farm. While I enjoyed seeing the animals and thought they were living a humane existence, I still found myself pretty glad to be a vegetarian. I was intrigued by the mobile hen house for the laying hens. The take it from field to field, following three days behind the cows so that the hens can scratch in the cow pies and eat the fly larvae before it develops. As Brie said, “On most farms you notice the smell and the flies, and this system cuts down on both of those problems.” I was kind of tired, so I wasn’t thinking particularly clearly, otherwise I would have picked up some  bacon or something as a thank you for Nana and PopPop. The farm has an open-door policy, so we could always go back. The other interesting thing is they have this big nocturnal dog whose job is to protect the fowl. He is bred and trained to kill predators, yet he loves people and hangs out whenever there’s a tour.

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