It’s 11:30 at night and I’m still sitting at my desk almost four hours after I said I was going upstairs to take a bath. I’m wearing Muck Boots and yoga pants (It’s a fantastic look.) and I’m covered in grime and itchy bits of sheep wool. It’s farm fair week for our family–the week my kids anxiously anticipate all summer. The week when you can guarantee the hottest and most humid days of the summer. The week when all the work of the past year and the past several months culminates in hot, sticky, sweaty work and fun and chaos and tears and learning opportunities.
Tuesday morning, we packed up the 4-H lambs in the back of the truck, crossed everything off the giant 3-page list taped to the kitchen refrigerator, gathered up photographs and crafts and baskets and baked goods and coolers stocked with sandwiches and cookies and fruit and snacks, and made our way to the fairgrounds.
But tonight sort of feels like a night to catch my breath. All the girls’ home arts projects have been entered and are on lock-down in the exhibit hall while they are judged and ribbons awarded. Birdy (too young for 4-H) and I (too old for 4-H) have entered our artwork and ceramics (Birdy) and photographs (me), in the open classes. All the lambs have been weighed and are eligible to be showed. All of them have been sheared. And now, the most-anticipated part–the show–is ahead.
Tomorrow the girls will volunteer in the 4-H snowball stand. We’ll wash the lambs one last time and put them in their silly little spandex “jackets” to keep them clean until the show Friday morning. We’ll clean out ears and dirty lamb armpits (Oh yes, we do.), and fluff up and trim woolly legs, and have a few practice turns around the show ring.
It’s the week of the summer where you know there will be so much work and so much sweat and so much fun. And you’ll come home every evening tired and dirty–and someone will be crying about something. And someone will be fighting about nothing and anything. But after all that, it’s still one of the best parts of the summer. And one of the best gifts you give your kids year after year.