Maybe Idaho is the burr in the saddle that makes my children want to leave home in the summer. A few years ago, Kent and I decided that farm work would be good for our kids, so we sent them all up to live and work with our Idaho cousins for two weeks. (All except #2, who adamantly refused and signed a contract to be my personal assistant for the summer because she couldn't stand the thought of hard manual labor.) The other four of them tended chickens and goats, weeded a massive garden for the weekend farmer's market, cleaned out the cat barn, moved irrigation pipe, and did any number of other farm jobs needing attention. They also played Rambo and other night games, went to a rodeo, camped in Yellowstone, and took a sailboat out on the water while there. They all seemed to have a great time. Yet fewer of my children go back every year.
The first year was so good for their work ethic that we, their parents, enacted a new summertime standard: if our kids don't find another good work option for themselves, they get sent to Idaho. This summer, all our girls found other options. #1 has a work-from-home, paying job, and also paid to spend next week in Mexico with one of ACHF's work project groups. #2 is putting in many hours at Mooyah's to earn moolah for her choir trip to New York. #3 made a run for the border. #4, who eschews hard labor, signed a personal contract to develop her YouTube editing skills and enter some video contests.
#5, however, likes hard work and LOVES being with the cousins on their farm in Idaho. Last week, I took him shopping for jeans, boots, and work gloves, and then drove through a pelting rain storm to meet up with the cousins who were visiting Salt Lake for the weekend. The exchange in the downpour from one car to the other was so hurried that I forgot to give him a hug goodbye. That boy is such a tender heart that I worried about him getting homesick. Luckily, the farm is way too fun.
In our phone chats every other night, #5 tells me he misses the family, but he is having a great time. His daily chores include cleaning the house, caring for turkeys, and weeding two rows of the oversized garden. Then he gets paid $8 per hour to help with a major landscaping project. He already earned enough to buy a semi-automatic airsoft rifle. His summer mom, Elan, assures me that their kids wear goggles, long sleeves, and gloves for their evening airsoft battles. So far, I've received no reports of injuries, only of adventures from my cheerful farm boy.