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The similarities are in the differences

Posted 2/7/2016 7:02am by Samantha Klinck.

So I went shopping with some of my kids the other day. Well, I wasn’t shopping, but I took them to shop. Our two eldest kids had some Christmas and Birthday money from their grandparents burning a hole in their pocket, and they wanted to go to the big city to spend it.

Usually, they would ask to go to Goodwill in Brockville, but it’s recently been closed, so they got it in their heads that Bayshore Shopping Centre would be the place to go. I’ve only been to Bayshore a handful of times in the last two decades, and most of my memories of that mall are when it had only two floors for your shopping pleasure. It’s radically different, and yet so similar to when I went there as a kid.  

Now, you have to understand, I don’t spend time in the city. I do take care of our CSA drop off frequently, which is in Ottawa, but I drive in drop off the totes, and head home. The closest I come to shopping is when I gas up the vehicle or stop in at a Canadian Tire. Where in Kanata incidentally, people will hand you their Canadian Tire money if you are dressed in your farming clothes.  

I took an hour to myself whilst my two girls and one of their friends wandered the mall at the end of the day to sit in a lounge. It was a big spacious, quiet room with sofa’s and comfortable chairs and a few places for kids to play up on the third floor.  

I wrote our weekly farm update as I was sat there, and then got to thinking about the similarities that are in the differences between farm life and country life.  

There are things I saw the kids do today when they got to the mall that I see city kids do all the time when they arrive at our farm. We all think the two places, country and city are so different, but there are so many similarities in the differences.  

As our farm kids get closer to the city, they ask about the smell, they say it smells like school bus. It’s car exhaust, I say, smells like school bus to you because when all your buses park at school, the smell of the exhaust builds up. I tell them it’s like that in the city because there are so many cars out and about at the same time.  

When people arrive to the farm and I ask how the drive was, the parents and kids often say there was no traffic at all! Before you know it, they are wandering about the farm and experiencing all sorts of smells. Compost piles, manure piles, sour milk in slop pails. Both farm and city have their fair share of smells.  

When my country mouse kids enter the mall, their eyes open wide! The place is so big compared to anything near our farm, there is so much selection, variety, a million things to capture their attention. For the first few minutes, it’s like letting loose kids in a candy store. They want to see, touch and buy everything. Stay together, I admonish them, this is the city, we have to be careful! They calm down a bit but I can still see they are awestruck by much of what they see.

When city mouse kids arrive on the farm, it’s often the same. Their eyes open wide when they see the fluffy farm dogs lope up to see them, brown chickens pecking about, and it’s not unusual for dairy cows to be in the front yard.  There is a barn stacked with hay bales just screaming to be climbed, and a pond perfect for throwing pebbles into. Most kids immediately want to run from place to place, shouting and grabbing at everything and anything they can.  

I remember once when friends of our from the city came to visit, it was a family of 5 that lived in a small one bedroom apartment high off the ground, and due to many reasons, they were not able to get out any where very often. When faced with the wide spaces, their kids lost their minds for a few moments, a similar but different kid in a candy store moment that my kids experienced.  

Within moments, most parents are giving their kids comparable warnings to what I gave mine upon entering the mall: Stay close, you are on a farm, you have to be careful!  

I found it fascinating and surprising that in the middle of a big city, in a big mall, I was able to find this huge, empty quiet space. Many people that come to the farm are often shocked when they realize how loud it can be here, when they are expecting peace and quite. The ducks can quack up a storm so loud you can’t hear yourself think, when the cows get it in mind that they need to bellow, it’s quite a racket, and at night the crickets, peepers, coyotes and barking dogs make quite a cacophony.  

So often people tell us they could never do what we do, and when I spend time in the city, I feel that I couldn’t manage there. City and farm are different, and we all have our places in this world where we belong. Yet the similarities are there, if you look for them.