When we showed up at my brother's house for Thanksgiving, we knew exactly where to go. We were expected inside the house and understood that the front door is the assumptive way in which guests should enter. Arrive on the farm, and confusion sets in.
William all gussied up for Thanksgiving - guy cleans up nice!
It took us a long time to get our farm store customers accustomed to parking in front of the barn and not blocking the driveways. But, this isn't about parking, it's to explain a little about how visiting or entering a farm is entirely different from the city. That assumptive front door and parking on the curb next to the house, doesn't even exist out here. I can see why it's so confusing.
This dilemma is most clear when new delivery trucks or city guests arrive. Neither know where to go or what to do. We've found packages in the strangest places on the farm. Bill's house does have a front door (not on the road side of the house) that he never uses, so imagine my surprise to find delivery boxes tucked into the brambles of an overgrown thorny barberry that blocks the steps to this door. Other times, packages have been lost at the door to the basement (also never used to enter the home) and often, they show up outside other random doors on the farm. The UPS driver, who knows country and farm life, knows exactly where the boxes will be best seen - right inside the shop door. She understands that if William Brenner's name is on the package, it will likely never be a thing that goes into the house. It will likely be a part or piece of machinery destined for the shop anyway. And, she knows exactly which door leads to "The Shop" even though it's not labeled as such.
How do you find anyone on the farm if 1) there's no front door and 2) nobody's in the house anyway? Well, that depends on your gender. Let me explain. When men arrive on the farm, usually their purpose is to see Bill. They might have a question, they might need some help, they might need a part or a tool, or they might want to catch up on the gossip and have a beer. Men who know Bill know where the shop door is, and they head directly there. If the shop is empty, they'll text or call him to see what he's doing. He responds/answers immediately all the time. If he's preparing food in the kitchen, close friends will head to the house for a visit or ask a quick question, but most choose to come back later because they don't want to go inside. Dudes out here follow an unsaid rule that men shouldn't be in the house during the day. They are working outside or "working" in the shop! They only come inside during daylight to eat then to shower and sleep after dark. This time of year, when it gets dark early, Bill spends more time working in the shop and still wouldn't consider coming inside before 7:30 or 8:00 pm. In the summer, he typically comes in around 10:00 pm. Yes, long days of work in the summer.
Since Bill's mom passed away and I don't technically live at his farm, not many women just show up unannounced except for a few neighbors who know the ropes. They know it's unlikely that anyone will be in the house, so they listen for tractors running or pop into the shop to see if the farmer is around. The ladies who need help, typically text Bill their questions because they know finding him can be difficult, and they're not looking for a long chitchat over an icy beer. Women tend to be a little more business and less likely to just hang out like the guys. I suppose that makes sense on many levels... messy shop, they have too much work to do, and there are no comfy chairs. When the men hang out in the shop it's often like that picture above. They stand around telling jokes and sharing gossip while sipping on some sort of light beer. We ladies prefer to sit in a well-designed decorative environment while we visit;)
Yesterday we hosted my dad and uncle for lunch. They've been on the farm a few times and understand Bill's world a little bit, but it threw him for a minute when they arrived and started walking towards the house. He's accustomed to staying outside or hanging in the shop for a bit, so felt a little uneasy going inside even though it was freezing cold and we were going to have lunch together. Fortunately, he recognized his hesitation, the cultural conundrum, and quickly switched gears. I arrived a few minutes later - the segue for hosting city guests on his farm and making it ok for dudes to be in the house for lunch! It's a different world out here in Western Wisconsin.
Universal wonkiness has come to an end and peace is at last on our doorstep as Mr. Christmas Cactus is back to normal blooming for Thanksgiving and not Halloween like last year!
The farm store is OPEN through December 24th. We'll take a few weeks off when it gets too cold to keep the little store heated on a regular basis.
Have you tried my Harissa on roasted potatoes? Have you seen all the cool new boiled wool hats I have? Have you enjoyed one of my cookies lately? Hop to!
Sending love from the farm,