By Rosanna Bauman
Editor’s Note: Rosanna, 25, is Old German Baptist Brethren. Like the Amish, the Brethren are a “Plain” church but they do use more modern conveniences and worship in church meetinghouses.
May used to be my favorite month,because all the best things happened in May. My only sister was born in May, and school let out for the summer. All of nature seemed to rejoice with me. The wildflowers began to bloom in profusion, the wild strawberries ripened, the ponds warmed just barely enough to go swimming, all sorts of baby animals arrived at the farm, and a we got to take a family weekend getaway.
While I still honor May as my favorite month, it has become such a hectic month at the farm that I can hardly enjoy the things I like best about May. This May has been especially hectic. The late season pushed several of April’s planting activities to the next month, as well as the usual influx of baby chicks, farmers market, beef wrangling and polutry processing.
On top of it all my Grandpa Nead fell and broke his hip. Now we are short a vital person during the seasonal rush as Mom has to sit in the hospital with Grandpa for a couple of weeks. We are already short of a couple of employees due to weddings, so I suddenly find myself responsible for completing the work of three people.
And into this fray my friend Joanna from California calls to tell me that she will be in the area for a relative’s wedding and has scheduled several days open to come and visit me. Company’s coming? In May? It’s a good thing that Joanna is an old friend because she already knows that she’ll be treated like family here. She just didn’t realize that this is the time of year that our family works like pack horses.
Because we are farmers, we can’t drastically alter our schedules when friends come to visit. Thus they have the choice of trailing behind us as we do our chores or assisting with the dirty tasks. My friends all know that a visit to Rosanna’s includes packing some everyday clothes that you can get dirty and stained because you never know what the Bauman family will put you to work on. I’ve lost track of how many friends that I’ve pressed into service in the dressing plant. Enduring a day in the chicken dressing shed has got to be one of the most unique tests of friendship. While I’m sure this experience hasn’t been ranked as anyone’s top life experience, neither has it sent any of my friends packing.
Nearly every friend that visits me can count on having a chance to go running on the trails at the lake. Kansas’s beauty gets overlooked so often, so I make sure I introduce my friends to the wild beauty in my backyard. Unfortunately even my essential visitor’s experience had to be forgone. It seemed like a crime not to visit the lake but there was no opportunity. I also like to engage in the cooking and baking of special meals while I am hosting using the opportunity to try new recipes. However my friend Joanna was served whatever kind of meal that we could whip together in 15 to 30 minutes. You don’t normally serve your guests sauerkraut but we did.
The most relaxing and recreational thing Joanna and I did was spending an afternoon in the blazing sun planting tomato and pepper seedlings in the garden. Most of our days were spent dressing chickens, about 1200 birds. The time that was left we spent washing, packaging and grading 350 dozen eggs. And since my mother was sitting in the hospital with grandpa, we squeezed in her duties of laundry dishes, and 3 daily meals for six people. Poor Joanna was putting in 18 hour days and she was my guest! When was the last time you were a guest and you worked harder than if you were at home?
If you show up at our farm at the right time, you may get to join us for supper, fold the laundry, or gut a chicken. The Bauman version of hospitality means a warm welcome at any time of day, and an immediate incorporation of the visitor into the day’s activities. At our farm, true guests are rare, but we get friends stopping by all the time. I treat my visitors as I would want to be treated. You learn so much more about a person when you can be with them in their “natural habitat.” My character is chiefly comprised of who I am at home, the everyday me. Sure, the “Social Rosanna” and the “Sunday Rosanna” are still facets of my character but they have been built off the Workday Rosanna. When I invite a friend to take a part in my everyday experiences, I am not abusing our friendship; I am deepening it, because I have just given them a window into my soul.