Thursday, August 31, 2023

Quad erratic

I have visited my aunt and uncle's farm several times over the course of my life and, being raised in a manner that many would consider to be "rural" (though I know my cousins would consider being quite metropolitan), I feel like I understand that farming is quite a lot of work! My mom would sometimes end me to the farm for weeks at a time in the summer, where I'd do rock picking and weeding and plowing and other simple (but backbreaking) chores. So I know it's not all fun and games.

However, it's also true that when city slicker cousins were visiting (for the record, our town had a population of about 7000 people at the time, but my cousins would tease me about being a city slicker) my cousins got to play more. Uncle LeRon (and the older kids, to be honest) would be busy, busy, busy all summer long, but Eric and Michelle and I had a lot of fun exploring the farm together. 

We'd go for rides on the quad (which otherwise was strictly for farm chores, not joyriding), float down the canal, jump on the trampoline, eat popsicles until we were sticky little messes, play with kittens, and just enjoy being on the farm...when we weren't out in the field making piles of rocks. 

When we were visiting the farm this time, however, it was Eric who was busy in the fields, while Uncle LeRon could take some time off to play (since he's technically retired; Michael, Craig, and Eric run the farm together now). This was quite a fun turnabouts!

On Monday morning, Uncle LeRon pulled the quads out of the quonset and taught Miriam and Zoë how to ride them. Here's Miriam on the littlest quad—this one is rather old (the same one that I used to ride when I was her age!):

Here she is zipping around the yard by herself:

And here's Uncle LeRon teaching Zoë how to ride on one of the bigger, newer machines:

Both of these quads (or 4-wheelers or ATVs or whatever you'd like to call them) have thumb throttles, which Uncle LeRon told me he likes for kids because their little thumbs get tired of pressing the throttle, so they're less likely to go too fast or ride for too long.

We sped all around the farmyard, taking a few breaks to learn how to drive a tractor and explore the grain silos and things like that (which I'll write about separately). Miriam enjoyed herself, but I think understood the power and danger of the vehicle. Zoë was having the time of her life. She kept saying, "I'm eight! I'm too young to drive! But look at me! I'm driving! And I'm only eight!"

She really wanted to drive alone, but Uncle LeRon wasn't too sure about that (given that she was only eight). He thought she could use some more practice driving first, so he had her mow the lawn (using the ride-on mower) and taught her how to drive a little clutch truck. She basically spent the whole day driving and loved every second of it!

Here she is just posing on the quad (before she'd been allowed to ride it by herself):

Miriam had a bit of a scare going over the big truck scale in the yard. She was using the one quad with the twist throttle and as she rounded the corner to get up on the scale (we were playing a bit of follow-the-leader around the yard with Uncle LeRon and Zoë in the front, Miriam in the middle, and me in the back) she accidentally accelerated because she was pulling so hard on the handlebars...and twisted the throttle.

She hit the curb of the scale, which set her off balance and she wobbled back and forth a bit before getting all four tires back on the ground. It was scary for me to watch, but was scarier for Miriam to experience, I'm sure!

She drove straight to the quonset, parked the quad, and rushed to the house. 

I parked my quad and followed her. And Zoë came in soon after that. 

Luckily Eric's kids had come over to play by then, so it was a good distraction. We visited with Jocelyn (Eric's wife) and held baby Isla and played in the sandbox with Weston and Parker and Payton. Then we helped get lunch ready and played some more. 

Eric's kids had to leave to go to a family function on Jocelyn's side of the family, so that's when Zoë got to mow the lawn with Uncle LeRon. She was so proud of herself! 

After she finished mowing the lawn, Zoë asked to ride the quads again, so Uncle LeRon pulled them all out again, put Zoë on the smallest one and let her have at it!

She did a pretty good job managing it on her own. 

You can hear Phoebe begging, "Do! Do! Do!" in the video (for a while she was even saying "Me do!" but I didn't catch that), and then Uncle LeRon asks Miriam if she'd like to ride as well.

Miriam only wanted to ride if she could ride the smallest one (that Zoë was riding on) because she didn't want to use the twist throttle again, which meant Zoë was stuck with the twit throttle because Uncle LeRon didn't want her driving the biggest quad on her own (it takes quite a bit more effort to steer than the littler machines).

Let's's a picture of me and Phoebe from earlier in the day (on the twist-throttle quad):

And here we are waiting on one quad or another while Uncle LeRon gave instructions to Miriam about how to use whichever quad she was on:

Phoebe loved riding around!

Anyway, Miriam was still shaken up from getting a little tipsy earlier in the day and so she said she would only ride if she could use a thumb throttle, so Uncle LeRon decided to teach Zoë how to use the twist throttle.

I only wish I had the camera going!!

He was standing beside her, showing her how to change the gears from neutral into drive, and had just explained that rather than using her thumb she would simply twist the handle to accelerate when Zoë said, "Like this?" and twisted the handlebar, zooming off full-throttle!

Thinking quickly, Uncle LeRon (who is seventy years old, mind you) thought he'd better go down with the ship. He leapt to catch the rail on the back, tried—and failed—to pull/wrestle the vehicle to a stop and ended up being dragged down the gravel road while he shouted at Zoë to just "Let go!!" so the vehicle would stop. 

It was quite the sight to see!

Zoë lacked the instinct to just...stop twisting the handle. She was holding on for dear was Uncle LeRon!

They must have communicated something though, because the quad eventually came to a stop and Uncle LeRon climbed on behind Zoë (which was his plan all along, since it's harder to steer the twist throttle quads than the thumb throttle ones). 

But, no harm, no foul! We were just glad Uncle LeRon was wearing his steel-toe boots!

Visiting the farm was clearly Zoë's favourite part of our trip. Uncle LeRon told her that she was welcome to come back to visit anytime and so she...looked up how old you have to be to fly internationally (it's age 12 according to Air Canada's rules, so long as there are no connections) and she is hatching some plans!

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