Loving the farm and countryside
Why the countryside?
Yes, it is in the middle of nowhere but it is also the center of it all. The countryside is where our food comes from and it is where we can run away to seek refuge from our stressful lives. It is food for both the soul and stomach.
More than 25 years ago, my dad brought the family for a vacation on a farm in rural South Australia. A little Singaporean city boy who knew nothing but a concrete jungle all his life was suddenly staying in a little cottage on a piece of land so vast he could see the nothing but fields stretching all the way to the horizon. I was ecstatic that I was free to run around (and not sweat because it was winter), sit around a fire and go shoot hares at night with the big boys. Yes, it was dusty, muddy, cold and we battled the houseflies. Those were worthy inconveniences for the liberation I felt. My love for the countryside deepened even further during my last stint in the UK.
Now that we're back, I try my best to do the same for my family. We jump into our little hatchback and drive out of our village into the country or farm when the weather gods are happy to bestow us a precious dry and sunny winter's day. We were so blessed to have one of those days at Stonehurst farm in Mountsorrel (A village north of Leicester City near Loughborough) yesterday.
COURAGE, KNOWLEDGE AND HEART RATE
Those who have stuck with us for the past 6 years would know that Hiro & Jack are the names of our late guinea pigs. They lived long lives (5 and 8 years) and we loved them to bits. Our human kids literally learned how to walk by holding themselves up with the guinea pig cage. They talked to the guinea pigs, stroked them and fed them. But somehow they became very fearful of animals after the piggies passed on and after two years of the pandemic madness.
We've been trying our best to help them overcome that fear. They did pick up courage to stroke cats/dogs while we traveled last year. This visit to the farm surprised us at what being outdoors can do to the confidence in kids.
We also took the opportunity to explain our relationship with animals to the kids. I think it is important to let the kids know that some of these animals work for us and others are our food. It is important that we raise, work and slaughter them humanely. It is easy in our city lives to be completely disconnected from these realities because all we see are chicken nuggets and fish fingers. People should understand that they should never waste food because the farmers work really hard and we take lives of animals to put food on the table.
A visit outdoors won't be complete without getting the heart rate up! Mine went up when I saw the amount of sand/hay stuck on their clothes and shoes (which means it will find its away into my car and house....)
Growing up in a home and city that's compulsively cleaned, it is hard to do otherwise. Keeping up obsessively with cleaning/tidying can be anxiety inducing and very unhealthy. Being in the countryside teaches me to be less compulsive with desiring a perfectly clean house and car. The cold air and calm natural surroundings takes my anxiety away. Nature teaches me that it is okay to have some mess.
THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY
A few weeks back, we took the kids on a very exciting first farm visit in the UK. Meteorological service said that there was no chance of rain or snow. The sky outside looked sunny and we decided to give it a go. We headed to Windmill farm located in the south of Leicestershire between Leicester and Market Harborough. When we arrived at the farm and checked out a few animals, it started drizzling. Oh! This is as British as it can get! So we thought....
Without warning....this happened....
Tiny little balls of ice (Hail) started making a ruckus over the metal sheds. The kids were most amused to see tiny balls of ice fall from the sky. Almost as suddenly as it started, it went all silent. Sleet started floating down on the ground. (Sleet is like frozen rain that's slightly melted and wet). A strange calm descended upon the farm, that same calm I've experienced with every snowfall. True enough....
People living in the tropics will ask, what's the difference between snowfall and sleet falling? Snow is frozen ice crystal, it falls as a flake or in clumps of flakes. Sleet is kinda wet and partially melted. There are many different forms of snow and it falls in a number of ways. We were so blessed to have experienced 3 in a row!
We were all smiles but it was getting colder and so we headed inside to warm up by coffee, hot chocolate and soft-play.
Once we've warmed up, we headed back out to see the animals in the barn. I like farms because we get to be up close with the animals. I even managed to observe different parenting styles among the sheep and their lambs. Some just eye-balled their lambs when the little ones walk away from them. Some just follow at a distance. It was hilarious I even managed to observe a helicopter parent sheep that made sure she followed her child's every step and pushed others out of the way to protect the lamb.
What's a visit to the farm without stepping out in the fields right? Only this time the field was rather frozen, snowy and muddy. We had a long, mindful, quiet and relaxing stroll around the fields. All we could hear was the crunching of snow and ice under our boots. Just look at how beautiful it is...
What is the farm and countryside effect you may ask? In a world of instant gratification via endless scrolling on our screens, looking beyond ourselves is a very important exercise. It really helps to have wholesome experiences out there in the fields and farms that ground us and reconnect us to nature and ourselves. Feeling stressed lately? Kids addicted to their devices? Try the countryside, nature reserve, seaside and great outdoors today!
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.
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