Chapter 11: Whether or Not it is Clear to You

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"Can we go and see the calfies? Please Christine... oh please, please?" And the other young voices chimed in, "Please... we'll be good," and "Pwee-ee-ze Cwisteen... "

Three eager faces broke into broad grins as I said, "OK kids. But you must go through the paddocks — NOT on the road, OK?"

Three heads nodded vigorously. "Yes, yes, yes... we will. Promise!" Just let us go... NOW! They might not have said those words out loud, but their delighted eyes and tightly grinning mouths said volumes. The smallest hopped from foot to foot as the next biggest rushed off to get jackets and beanies for their great adventure. She was always like a little mother to the boys, fussing over them, reminding them of their manners.

"HANG ON! One more thing." Wrinkled noses, jiggling bodies and several theatrical sighs answered me. Without a stern shake of their Dad's head, and Mum grabbing one firmly by the shoulder, they would have already been on their way.

"Don't forget to leave the gates as you find them." Once again, three heads nodded vigorously, as if pulled by the same invisible string.

"We know, we know — open if they're open and shut if they're shut," their voices clamoured as they hastily kissed Mum and Dad goodbye before a mad scramble to start their journey.

There are valid reasons why certain rules and onerous tasks exist on farms and must be followed without hesitation or question. An unwritten farm law, this one. The gates must be left exactly the way they're found, whether open or shut. If it looks dubious, a quick check with the farmer will answer the question. After all, to err is human. But almost always, gates are exactly as the farmer wants them to be, for a deliberate reason.

We had been enjoying lunch and the best of times, catching up with old friends from the city, On such a glorious sunny day, who could refuse when their children asked to visit the calfies? My questioning glance at their Mum was answered with an almost imperceptible nod of her head. Two of them were old enough to have a small 'adventure' on their own, and both were practiced at taking care of their small brother.

A long time later they returned. We could hear the excited chattering long before they arrived.

"Mum Mum. The calfies all said hallo to us!"

"Mer-r-r, mer-r, mer," bellowed the smallest, making his voice as deep as he could.

"And sucked our fingers SO hard," said the third, spreading out both hands to show how red they were from the suction. The little one stopped moo-ing long enough to stretch his mouth and eyes wide open as he said, "I fort my fingers was gonna fall off.  I'se scared of them little cows."

"Oh-h, you're such a baby." The tallest wrinkled his nose in disgust and shrugged his shoulders. But then he tousled the small boy's hair to show he wasn't really being mean. "You didn't mind playing with them in the yards, did you, little mate?" I smile to myself. A bit different from running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain!

They finally slumped down in tiredness, one on the nearest chair, another on the floor, and the smallest climbing onto his mother's lap. Their shining eyes and bright pink cheeks showed their enthusiasm was undiminished as they continued to entertain us with the tales of their great adventure. The unexpected warmth of the sun had lit up the hearts of kids and calves alike.

Kanute and I smiled at each other. Our hearts felt lighter, too.

All too soon, it was time for them to head home to the city. After they left, Kanute took a long look at the horizon. Heavy clouds were gathering over the faraway sea; the severe overnight weather change that had been forecast looked likely to happen a whole lot sooner rather than later.

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