A Christmas adventure

We have a lot of family and friends who follow us on this website. So please indulge me while I share something that is pretty much a family story but obviously wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t farm and farm the way we do. Plus folks seem to enjoy more than just pictures of cows so here is some behind the scenes views of what we do on Christmas here at Ninja Cow Farm.

Not long after Wildflower was born, our neighbor Dustin came up with an idea for a Christmas present from him that would be for all the kids. He decided to keep all his pocket change over the year, and then wrap it up as a treasure for the kids. But just giving them a box of coins was kind of boring, so he decided that the kids could find the treasure on a treasure hunt. This was a hugely successful idea as what is better for little kids than having a big pile of loot to sort through, and a fun adventure to go and find the treasure made it all the more special. The fact that is was pennies and nickels mattered not one bit.

The first few years, the kids were way little so the entire event consisted of a treasure map created by Uncle Dustin, and a treasure “hidden” right behind the house, under a bush, etc. You know, kind of like an Easter egg hunt where the eggs are pretty much just laying on the grass so the little kids can just walk up and find them? Yeah, like that.

The treasure maps were a thing of beauty though. Dustin has an art background and he’d draw them, scorch the edges, have funny sayings on them, etc. They really were over the top. To this day, I believe every single map is hanging in one or the other kids rooms for every year we’ve done this.

Like most things, the event grows over time. In 2016, the kids had gotten old enough that we felt that the adventure could get a little more, say, challenging. I checked in with SWMBO, who is in charge of safety and the kids well being (I’d dangle them by their ankles over alligators, safely of course but you know, dads and whatnot.)  She was ok with ramping things up!

Dustin and I set about building some items for the adventure that were beyond the norm. I went in the shop and built a grappling hook, and Dustin and I built a fire trough from some metal channel and a model rocket igniter we had laying around. Dustin turned his treasure map into a treasure journal and we turned the simple Christmas adventure into an hour long trek around the farm.

To give you some idea of what I am talking about, here is the family video we sent out to our friends and family from 2016.

Last years adventure was a huge hit. The kids were scared, excited, and had a grand time marching around the farm following clues and tackling the challenges. The Christmas adventure has now become a solid part of our tradition and a welcome part of Christmas day.

The way we schedule Christmas is to split it into three parts. One, we get up and open stockings and a couple of presents. Wildflower and I would start at 5am. SWMBO would start at 9am. We compromise and start about 7:30am. Then usually about 9am or so, we pause Christmas and Spork and I go and feed the animals. There are no days off on a farm.

When we get back, we meet Uncle Dustin, usually at our front door, and he delivers the Christmas map/book/journal/clue/whatever. Then the entire family treks off on our adventure for an hour or so.

When we get back, we get something to eat, then continue with the rest of our Christmas. It ends up taking nearly all day and we move at a very sedate pace, opening a few presents and letting the kids play with them before we move on. At this point, I cannot imagine a more enjoyable Christmas day, unless maybe it was this.

Christmas on a sailboat
But only if we still have a treasure hunt, just in shorts and flip-flops.

Since last year went so well, SWMBO allowed that we could step up the level of difficulty again for the kids this year. Instead of small fires, we were thinking explosions and whatnot. Several nights of planning (read drinking) went into this years plans and both Dustin and I spent several days working on projects. And the result? Well, before you can watch the video, I need to explain a few things.

One, I need to explain who Bill is. I don’t know how it started. At some point Spork was doing something, and I made the comment about his older brother. I’m always messing with the kids, telling them things that aren’t true, mainly as a source of humor to them and to me, but also for a lesson on occasion. For example, how many times have you witnessed a parent scold children who were misbehaving in public? When my kids get rowdy in public, assuming I’m not the ring leader of the misbehaving (it happens) then I’ll say in a bad stage whisper, “Hey, we are in public. Remember to pretend you are normal!” Being home schooled they are very aware that we are different from “normal” people. They smile, quiet down, and behave for at least several minutes. It gets the point across, but with some self-deprecating humor instead of a red faced parent yelling.

So back to Spork misbehaving. Spork looks at me innocently and asks, “Older brother?”

“Oh yes, your older brother…..Bill.”

Now my oldest brother was named Bill, maybe that’s where the name came from. Who knows why I picked that name, it was just random.

“I have an older brother?”

“Oh yes. Had actually. He’s not…..here…anymore. And he was bad. Actually he was doing just what you were doing just now…and that was the end of him. That’s why we don’t talk about him anymore.” A smile to let him know I’m kidding. And a crazy look in my eye to make him question if I actually was.

Message delivered.

Over the years, Bill has been killed in numerous way. Not cleaning up your room, dating girls, giving your mother lip, hitting your sister. Every way you can imagine, Bill has met his untimely demise. It has become a running joke over the years and Bill quickly became like Kenny. You know, this guy?

However, I can mention Bill, and the kids get the point quickly. Better straighten up. Well after all of our planning, we thought that this year’s adventure should be the search for their long lost brother Bill.

Also, being the mean ogre that I am, I’ve made it very clear that I don’t like our dog Ruby. I try to give her away constantly to customers, threaten to eat her, you know, the normal stuff. In the second part of our adventure, Spork has to shoot a target with a rifle, which explodes. What isn’t explained in the video is that we’d put an effigy of Ruby in a cage. She could only be “released” by a shot on target, which of course Spork had to perform.

Except the target was an explosive that blew Ruby up. That’s why you see The Princess carrying around a stuffed dog for the rest of the video. That was the blown and up and rescued Ruby dog. When we got home, and Christmas was over, the girls raided my boo boo box and had a few days of pretend vet hospital time getting the stuffed dog back to full health. I’m happy to say the stuffed dog has made a full recovery and now resides in Wildflower’s expansive collection of stuffed animals, living the high life.

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Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he’s a farmer.

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