Friday, March 28, 2014
Spring is Sprung
And not a moment too soon. Winter came in early and hard, then showed signs of leaving early. It’s been nice for the last week or so now. Spring might be here, but the population of FAR Manor has continued to grow even before we’ve had a chance to start planting. Besides Kim and Serena, Guillermo and his family are the newest inmates at the free-range insane asylum. He and his son Rene came walking up the driveway one rainy afternoon last week. The kid acted as translator; Guillermo can carry on limited conversations in English, but didn’t want a misunderstanding (and I’m sure there was some strategic value in having a kid front for you). I found that I had an unexpected ringer of my own, though: Kim heard the Spanish, came to the door, and started chattering with Rene… turns out he’s fairly good at it.
Guillermo and I both goggled at the boys, looked up, and grinned. He pointed through the woods. “Cows… are yours?”
“Mi familia,” I said. We both laughed, Guillermo prodded his son and said something.
“We need a place to live,” he said. “We can work for it.” I looked at Kim, who nodded.
I kind of figured that, I thought to myself. “Is it just you two?”
“No. My Mother and sister are in the truck.”
“Bring them. We should all talk.” Rene went back to get the others, and I sent Kim to tell Mrs. Fetched what was going on.
We gathered around the dining table, including the kids. Serena’s Spanish isn’t nearly as good as Kim’s, so the kids stuck with English except when translating. To my surprise, Mrs. Fetched was more receptive than I’d expected to adding to our collection — probably because her parents are getting too old to do much gardening or ranching. She peppered both adults with questions about being able to work a garden, tend to cattle, and so on, getting the answers we expected.
Finally she asked, “Why us?”
“We’ve been to four or five places already,” Rene said without waiting for his dad. “They all said no. Some of them said bad words.” Guillermo spoke up, and Rene continued: “We want to get back to Mexico, but we can’t buy enough gas to get us there. Besides, things may be bad here, but they’re even worse at home.”
“Really? I figured… well, there’s not so much to lose…”
Maria spoke up. “No petrol,” she said through Rene. “The government is giving the oil to the campesinos to grow food and get it to the cities. The rich get the rest. Everyone else…” She shrugged. “Our family at home said to stay here if we can.”
“You’ll have to learn English,” Mrs. Fetched said. “The kids will have to be in school, you know.”
“The parents nodded. “We have green cards,” Guillermo said. “They were in school in Gainesville.”
Just to be safe, I called around to verify what we’d been told and that there weren’t outstanding arrest warrants or other trouble, but everything came up clean. Guillermo takes care of the cattle; we got a horse from Big V and he’s a natural on horseback — he’s training the horse to deal with cattle, and is working with the in-laws’ new dog. Maria is helping Mrs. Fetched with the house.
The kids — all four of them — are in hog heaven. Until we were done using the insert last week, they all camped out in the living room and would whisper, giggle, and shush each other until one of the adults told them to settle down. Each night. Now that we’re past the coldest weather, we put them in the upstairs rooms. Girls in one, boys in the other, of course… but we hear them wandering back and forth at night and talking. Serena is picking up Spanish in a big hurry, and the kids are starting to use their own Spanglish dialect with each other. Through the day, when they’re not in school they’re helping out around the place. Daughter Dearest got the newest kids transferred in, and that was fairly easy because she just had to get the transcripts from next door, so to speak. They all meet the bus at 6:30 a.m., and they’re pretty good about letting me work when they get home.
It’s kind of nice, having some people around who are happy to be here and wanting to help. We had to plant a lot of extra stuff this year, but there were more people to help with the planting. In some ways, FAR Manor is really becoming a manor.