Have you ever experienced life on a farm? Me either. But, I got to experience a day in the life of a farm-life kind of family. Enter the Exleys.
Nathan Exley, another intern I work with, invited us to come see his “farm” and Apiary ( he is a Beekeeper!).
When I first got there I was immediately greeted by the cutest 10 year old boy with a grin the size of New Hampshire, surely. He introduced himself kindly, and then we got to meet yet another Exley brother. There are 4 brothers in the Exley home, but one was at a summer camp.
First thing we got to do was look at the animals. Chickens. Check. Goats. Check. Chinese Multi-color Pheasant. Say what?! Yup. They had them all, and then some. I got to catch a few critters; I caught the “Big Brama” Hen and held her and met Goliath, the tiny rooster (who is actually quite old!). Paul and Andrew explained the different types of chickens and what kind of eggs they lay: there are brown, white, and even green eggs! “My name is Sam, I like green eggs and ham.” comes to mind…
Next thing we got to discover was the garden. Cue epic music. Mrs. Exley, AKA Mama Exley in my book, took us to the garden and let us try fresh cow peas right off the vines. Very tasty. I can imagine them in a good stew with some oregano and parsley. But let me tell you– they grew it all, practically! Spaghetti squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, bell peppers, and I think I saw even a few marigolds. I think you could have a garden salad in your fist by the time you finish taking the tour.
We went inside and the Exleys divvied up the garden spoils and offered to send us home with some. Yes, please, and thank you! This led to us trying some homemade dill and sweet-and-crunchy pickles! I am so glad I gave up being a picky eater, because even though I used to not like the sweet pickles, these were an amazing treat! Next wonder in sight was of course the honey. You cannot imagine how flavorful and magical honey fresh off the press is. So to speak. I was told to try it with some of the wax-honeycomb. It was like chewing gum, almost, ‘cept you got to spit out the wax. Doable, and delicious!
The whole day, I kept saying I wanted to see the bees. We almost didn’t get to because it was hot, but they made it work. I got to try on the Beekeeper helmet and see where the bees live! The Exleys are so brave… they didn’t even use a smoker on them when they opened the lid. Check it out:
Next on the checklist (there really wasn’t one but let’s say there was for the sake of the story) was to see the boys’ beds. They were hand-carved cherry or maple wood, sanded and primed to perfection. Excellent craftsmanship– or should I say, Exley-lent? (Let us have a moment of silence for that bad pun) Anyways! They are fine craftsmen in many ways– they hewed their own wooden swords as well as arrows for their bows. Did I mention they do archery as well?
After a rousing few turns of archery and shooting arrows into funky places, the lovely lads of the household played the fiddle and guitar for me. It was some wonderful music, let me tell ya: Lord of the Rings theme song, a few danceable folk tunes, and then some classic worship songs. By “classic”, I mean Rich Mullins was involved, and of course, “I’ll Fly Away” ended the medley of melodies.
By that time it was dinner, and the Exleys invited me to stay a bit for supper. I was floored. The kindness and generosity of this family blew me away, and I was very thankful indeed to learn so much about a farm and its facets in a family-friendly lifestyle. I am forever thankful for this excursion, and I implore you as you read this, to pray for this lovely family as they head out to Belize August 4th.
Thank you, Exleys, and cheerio!