for the love

In my generation, there are 4 Sebecks able to carry on the family name… my brother Dan(ny), my cousin Jere (who’s both my 1st and my 3rd cousin- figure that one out. It’s perfectly legal.), my 2nd cousin Joey, and his brother Jeff(y). All are handsome devils who will have or have had no trouble charming the bobby socks off a nice country girl and starting a family. If they all do as well as Dan did with Sarah Ball, we Sebecks may be able to take over the world.

Joe(y) and Jeff(y) and Janay belong to Nancy and Joe. Joe’s dad and my grandpa were brothers. Savvy? Dad and Joe grew up together- hunting and schoolin’ and farmin’ and apparently causing all sorts of trouble, though it’s hard to look at Joe and see a mischievious sort. I rather my father was the trouble and Joe was the hitch. He is the only man that can set my father in his place- no small feat for a Sebeck. If you’ve met any of us (perhaps especially the girls) you’ll quickly notice you can’t tell any of us anything because we know everything about anything already. You’re grinning because you know it’s true. And also because you love me.

In common tradition, there’s Big Joe and Lil’ Joe and Big Dan and Lil’ Dan. Though both Lil’s have far surpassed their fathers in height- and perhaps even strength- by now. Lil’ Joe is old enough to drop the lil’ now, but it’ll never happen. Joe and Joey work the farm… a small dairy farm on leased property behind their house. Big Joe has done this every day for more than 30 years. There are no vacations on a farm, as the animals don’t really care if there’s a $99 special to New York for the weekend. You cannot be sick when there’s only 2 of you to milk 40 cows twice a day- every day. Seems like there isn’t even time to shave, if Joe’s whiskers are any indication. I asked him if he was turning Amish on us and he said, “Nah. This is just cheaper than blades.” And grinned. Punk.

My strongest memories of being ‘home’ in Pennsylvania in the summers between overseas moves involve my father’s huge and ornry and hard-working family. There was always Dairy Queen the first night… and then a trip out the Farm where Danny and I would be let loose in the sheds to ride the lawn mowers and turn the keys and ride on fenders of big tractors while the boys talked about life. How hard it was. How things were changing. How things weren’t changing. How Dad ruined a hunting patch for them 20 years ago. How Nance made Mary introduce her to Joe. How all those girls were trouble. How milk prices were going up and how that meant things were ok for now and better than they’d been in years. And laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. Curt loves to be with these people and talks about them long after we’ve left… about how they love to laugh and how easy it is to like them. I’ve always thought so, too.

That #43 is a friendly sort of gal… she kissed me without even smelling my breath.

Joe(y) will take the farm someday, I am sure. He is the kindest boy- man, I suppose now, at 22- that I have ever met next to his father. He would be a good teacher if he’d be a bit more specific about where ‘there’ is when he’s talking about throwing feed. ‘Down there,’ to me, implies below me… but I was wrong. “It’s ok,” he said, “They’re not picky ’bout where they eat.” But I guarantee you I’ll hear about it the time time we show up to help. And the next time and the next time. Janay is headed to college after graduation this year- and, girl, I absolutely adore you. If I’d ever had a younger sister you’d have been the best there could be. Jeff(y), at 19, is mysteriously absent most of the time… hiding from the ribbing, I’m sure, that comes with people knowing you since you were in diapers.

Curt and Dad milked in the morning 3 times while we are home- up at 5:30am for work at 6am. I have never seen Curt(y) so satisfied. There is something to the simplicity of farm work- you know what you have to do. You know you have to do it. You know it will be that way forever. It’s certainly not for everyone. And it certainly wears on the soul… all that quiet. All those hard years. Wondering if the kids will love it or want to leave. Hoping Kate doesn’t waste a bucket of feed by throwing it under the cows. And, while we are grateful for our lives and our work here, we love and support that life and that kind of heart. It has reaffirmed our desire to be simple, to be honest, to work hard, and to love well.

So, thank you for loving on us this Christmas… for pizza and books and stories and breakfast after milking. For your work and your family and the way to do it all the best you can every day… in and out. We love you and we’ll see you soon.

I think I’ll go have a glass of milk… and daydream about farm animals.
If I could be a farm animal, I’d be a duck. A white one waddlin’ around quackin’ as I please.


About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

11 responses to “for the love

  • diane

    Yep. Yep. Yep. This got me a bit teary-eyed. I lived on a farm ’til I was 14. And you hit the nail on the head, Katiekate.

    It’s good stuff. Good people. A good life.

  • thekooiet

    Jeff’s reading this great book right now about some guy who lives in NC off the land (I forget the title, and I’m too lazy to yell at him downstairs to ask what it is.)

    But the whole gist of it is that our men today (very generally speaking) don’t really know what it means to work and they don’t know how and what to pass on to their own boys.

    We live in our cities and towns with our cubicle jobs sitting in front of computers all day. We don’t get dirty, we don’t build our homes with our hands, we don’t plow the earth for our grain, we don’t slaughter our own animal for our dinner, and we don’t milk our own cow for our drink.

    This book is helping Jeff think differently, especially about what he’s passing on to Seth. He wants Seth to be a man…to see the fruits of his labor. To know what it means to work.

    Man we are missing so much.

    You and Curt are teaching me Kate. I am so blessed by you.

  • thekooiet


    I want to be a worker too. I want to tend to a beautiful garden. I want to teach my daughters how to be good women. To be good wives. Do I sound old fashioned? I want to sew, knit, cook, mend,….

    I want things to be simpler.

  • KatieKate

    Lovely… both of you. Lovely. This could be the start of a beautiful conversation.

    It is rare these days for kids to learn to build… the change oil, the take apart toasters, to fix fencing, to save tupperware. While I love the advances we’ve made (*ahem* blogging), I do hope to pass on the basics to our kids. Cooking at home, chores, actual non-internet money, sewing buttons on, playing an instrument, reading at night before bed time, etc. We don’t plant to lose that around here… because we don’t want to lose the heart behind that kind of work. The ‘earn it’ type of work. And the ‘oh my gosh I love that because I DID IT’ kind of work.

    It’s so very possible. It just takes a bit more intention these days… intention instead of necessity.

  • Becky Swann

    I’d want to be a goat, I would prance around in the field, eat everything, and head-butt whoever I wanted!

  • jimmy

    Oh soo true, I love what you have said with your words and between the lines. We all need to think of ways we can enjoy our technology but we also need to understand the basics of life; the where and how, so we can use technology wisely. We joined a local land conservency, for several reasons, good work providing good products and good friends, but also to help Rose and others to understand the basics of where our food comes from and what it takes to get it to the table as well as what can happen when we do not repect the land and the people on it etc… Sorry you started it. You have a great family, don’t you.
    By the way Rose found the Library this weekend and has not come up yet. David C is next for her…

  • OurMrsMikrut

    Barn cat. I like the idea of lazily lying up on some perch, watching all the goings-on.

    Bless you, bless you for your calling to the hands-in-the-earth life. I love it. I am, however, perfectly okay with a life a little more suburban…though it is time to start knowing where our food comes from. One of these days we’ll have a garden, shop at the farmer’s market, and go in on a cow with some neighbors. (Note to self: buy a chest freezer.) (Note to self: obtain housing large enough for placement of chest freezer.)

  • sunday

    do you want to adopt Worth because he is all about everything you said. he wants chickens and cows and to bring home food that he killed. i always wanted a cow, but only b/c they are cute. i don’t think that you would want to be a duck around worth as that is his hunting sport of choice right now although his aim is a little off so you probably will survive! i think i know the book/man that your friend is talking about. he does not live too far from us now. he would come to atlanta and speak to us in school. his name might be “yoesef” of course i spelled that wrong and that is also Appalachian’s mascot. go mountaineers!

  • thekooiet

    I asked Jeff when he came up from the dungeon….

    The guy’s name is Eustace Conway.

    Sunday, how far away from you is Nebo, NC? My grandma lives there…it’s so beautiful in the mountians!!

  • the bantam menace

    good, good stuff. my mom grew up on a farm, but as far back as I can remember grandpa was no longer working it; couldn’t by himself. but we still got to play around in the barns and all over the fields and woods. and he still had a ginormous john deere monstrosity.

    I would be a sheep. someday I’ll perform for you my sheep impression of a british sheep.

  • the dicocco gang

    I would like to see your impression of a british sheep.

    and Kate, I would like to see you waddle.

    Laura and I will be lazy and watch everyone from our cozy space in the one warm spot of sunshine in the barn.

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