It is tough to know what will motivate a thirteen year old boy. For our oldest, we have learned, it requires a lightning-strike-blue-moon combination of something he really wants and a task he thinks worthy of his effort. I used to worry that such a mystical thing did not exist. I was wrong.
He will cheerfully do farm work – hours of it – for an iPad.
Prior to our trip to Grandma’s farm, he decided he needed an iPad. We decided he needed to pay for it himself. So Grandma promised to pay him for field labor. He boasted of five-hour days in the hot sun, heavy lifting. Given the state of his room, we were doubtful.
We arrived at midnight on Saturday, and he woke early Sunday ready to get going. But Sunday at Goose Hill Farm is reserved for reading the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. We toured the property – new leases, new projects. We discussed plans for a maple-tapping venture. We met the new baby chickens, ducks and turkeys. Watered the vegetable garden from a bucket and working well. The boys rode the ATVs.
It was a slow, easy morning. But as we walked back to the house for lunch, our son grinned proudly, “only three hours of work to go!”
The concept of “work” clearly had to be redefined. Ten minutes of watering plants? Yes. Two hours riding ATVs across the gorgeous countryside? No.
“Then what can I do?!”
Day Two. Fed the birds. Collected eggs. Watered gardens. Hauled logs. Helped clear fields and put out a very dramatic brush fire. Transported tools. Drove the tractor. Wrote out his invoice. Five hours of real work.
Day Three. Up, dressed and out to the chicken coop while the coffee was still brewing. He is a boy transformed.