What’s this? A farmer on the beach on June 1st!!!


Imagine you’re the project manager of a company-wide software roll-out and then you schedule week-long vacation the week it goes “live”. That’s kind of what we did this spring. Instead of software, it was the start of our meat chicken season and in the midst of farmers market season.  (What farmer does that?)

Logan Square Farmers Market
Logan Square Farmers Market


Beth had been asked to do some work to do for the USDA in Washington DC the first week of June. Normally, we wouldn’t schedule to be away from the farm at this time of year, but we’d been talking about taking the boys to see the D.C. for a while. So, back in March, we decided to take the whole family to D.C. To get away at a very busy time of year on the farm required planning, creative calendar juggling, and some terrific help. First we needed to line up our help. We found two local teenagers interested in sharing the task. Unfortunately, the graduating senior with the polished resume, backed out a week before our departure. Stress….

Fortunately, the other teen, a young man who’s been home-schooled this past year, stepped up to the challenge. With a flexible school schedule, Ben was able to come to the farm for extensive training before we left. We delayed the arrival of our first group of chicks a couple of weeks so that they would still be contained in the brooder while we were gone instead of needing daily moves in the field. We made some adjustments to our butchering schedules and coaches and theater directors  were notified of missed games and rehearsals (we have a club soccer player and our younger boys are performing in two productions this summer).

Next up was what to do about our Logan Square Farmers Market. We’ve been vendors at this Chicago market for 10 seasons and have not missed a market in all that time – a rare family vacation wasn’t going to break our streak – we’re like Cal Ripken that way. I would work the market the day of our departure, and we lined up a member volunteer to work the market the following week (I’d be able to help with the latter half of the market – I’ll tell that part of the story further along in this post). On May 29th (2 days before departure), our member/volunteer had to back out due to severe allergies and asthma attacks. Stress…


Enter farmer/superhero, Molly Breslin, Molly and Tractor who answered our emergency call for help to drive the market van to the city and work the market on June 7th for us. Whew! The streak would live on.

While I was at the market, Beth and the boys were at home finishing our packing, picking up a rental mini-van, and making it possible for us to leave the farm for a week in late spring. I drove home, prepped the van and market supplies for Molly, ate supper, left final instructions for Ben, and got in the van for a 12-hour drive to the Chesapeake Bay. Beth took the first shift while I slept.

Six states and a few bathroom stops later we pulled into SERC the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. This gem of a site is right along the banks of an inter-tidal river where we proceeded to seine with the boys for a couple of hours. fish seine

It was a great opportunity to get out and move and learn about the beauty and environmental challenges of the Chesapeake Bay. On the recommendation of the Smithsonian staff, we ate lunch at Mike’s Crabhouse for some local seafood. YUM!

Next up was a visit to the beach!

Jody Richard Jack at beach
Jody, Richard, and Jack at the beach. Sandy Point, Md.

For the next three days, I took the boys around DC while Beth worked at the USDA. The capital tour was a big hit.

Photo with boys during our Capitol tour.
Photo with boys during our Capitol tour.

Beth took a long lunch from the USDA to join us on the Capitol tour.

Beth Duncan Jack at Capitol
Beth, Duncan, and Jack at the Capitol Building

Richard got a bit of a private tour with one of Senator Durbin’s interns as he had to retrieve his phone from the Capitol Theater. That’s why he’s missing from these pictures.

Old Supreme Court Room in the Capitol Building
Old Supreme Court Room in the Capitol Building

I can only imagine the arguments in front of these early justices. It was fun to see history up close and personal.

It was, also, heartening to hear that congress was fractious and bellicose in the past, yet was able to move and do some pretty great things. It gives me hope that the current intractable partisanship is merely a blip rather than the new normal.



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