Guess what? A very exciting and lucky thing is about to happen to me! This Monday, our class is going on a field trip to Goat Hill Farm. At first I thought they only had goats there. But Mrs. B, my third-grade teacher, says they also have apples (that we get to pick off the trees), eggs (that we get to take from under the chickens), goats, of course (that we get to milk, just like cows), and some other stuff I can’t remember. Pretty cool, huh?
Part of the reason why I’m extra excited about going to a farm is that I’m a foodie. Don’t worry, a foodie isn’t a weird sickness—it’s a person who likes trying new foods! One of my best friends, Camille, is the reason I became a foodie. She’s from France, and in France they don’t eat things like macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets for lunch. They eat salads with buttery lettuce, tiny beans, and cheese from goats. They even eat ducks. I ate a duck at Camille’s house once and I actually liked it.
There are also some other lucky and exciting things happening, so I decided to make a list about them. I love making lists—in fact, I’m an expert at it. Even Mrs. B says so. Here’s my list:
1 At Goat Hill Farm, we are also going to make a whole lunch out of the eggs, goat milk, and apples without even going to the grocery store, and we get to eat it right there at the farm. It’ll be like a big party!
2 I now officially have two best friends. I used to have only one best friend, Sage. Then Camille moved here and we became best friends, too.
3 Since Sage and Camille are both in my class, they’ll go to the farm with me, which makes them pretty lucky, too.
4 We get to watch a movie today in class, which we hardly ever do. I just wish we could have popcorn to go with it.
5 Yesterday at Camille’s house, for dinner, Mrs. Durand made fried artichokes, which is now my new favorite vegetable. An artichoke is a very weird name for a vegetable, but I love it anyway.
The movie Mrs. B showed us was about how things grow. We watched a girl plant an apple seed with her mom. After they watered it, the seed grew into a little sprout. Then it grew into a big plant, and suddenly the girl was picking an apple off the tree and eating it. It was pretty amazing, but I think it might take a little longer in real life.
The coolest part of the movie was at the end, when the girl put the apples in a pot with sugar and water and cooked them. They got all mushy and turned into applesauce. I didn’t know you had to cook apples to make applesauce! I thought you just mashed them up a lot. But I did know that one thing was missing.
“Mrs. B?” I said after the movie.
“We should bring some cinnamon to the farm.” I heard Sage start to laugh. I gave him my best warning face, where I squint my eyes like a mean cowboy.
“Why’s that, Phoebe?” Mrs. B said.
“Because I once heard Camille’s dad say that cinnamon and apples were meant to be together. Isn’t that romantic?” I said. Camille’s face started to turn the color of a bright red apple. Her face is always turning crazy colors like that.
Mrs. B smiled. “Huh, I’ve never thought about it that way. But you don’t have to bring any. The farm has a big kitchen, so I’m sure they have their own cinnamon.”
“Oh, that’s okay, I’ll just bring a tiny little bit for emergencies,” I said, pinching my thumb and pointer finger together to show Mrs. B just how little I meant.
Mrs. B sat down at her desk and rubbed her eyes.
Poor Mrs. B. Sometimes she seemed tired.
The night before my field trip, I gave my mom the list of what we needed to bring to the farm:
1 Hand sanitizer
2 A change of clothes
I had also added a few things:
4 A small amount of emergency cinnamon (for the apples)
5 My purple polka-dot raincoat in case it rains (Grandma Green gave it to me for my birthday last spring. It’s very shiny and the polka dots even have glitter on them, which makes it the most perfect raincoat ever.)
6 Matching boots (Who wears a raincoat without matching boots?)
7 My lucky watering can (It has my name stenciled on it, and everyone knows that things with your name on them are luckier than things without your name.)
“Pheebs,” my mom said, sitting on my bed and staring at the list, “are you sure this is the correct list?”
“Part of it is typed and part of it is handwritten, in your handwriting.”
“I had to add some extremely important things,” I replied with a sigh. Sometimes Mom takes a while to understand things.
“So you felt that emergency cinnamon, whatever that may be, your raincoat, boots, and a stenciled watering can were extremely important?”
“Yes, absolutely,” I said, getting my boots out of the closet.
“Uh-huh.” Mom pushed her glasses up her nose. “Well, you can bring your boots. But not the raincoat and watering can. It’s not even supposed to rain.”
“Okay,” I mumbled. When Mom uses her super-serious, super-calm voice, there’s no use in arguing. Sometimes grown-ups don’t get the big picture, you know? But Mom didn’t say I couldn’t bring the cinnamon.
When I woke up on Monday, I fed my blue betta fish, Betty #2, named after my first fish, Betty #1, may she rest in peace. Then I put on jeans, my apple shirt, and my purple polka-dot rain boots. I also found my floppy white beach hat, because farmers in books usually wear straw hats, and my beach hat is almost like that. After I put on the hat, I thought I looked like a pretty great farmer.
I went downstairs early before anyone was in the kitchen and found a bottle of cinnamon. I dumped some in a baggie and stuck it in my pocket just in case. Then Mom came down and made me a big bowl of oatmeal my favorite way, with bananas, walnuts, and maple syrup, so I’d have some extra farm energy to do lots of farmy things.
“Have a great day at the farm,” Dad said after breakfast, squeezing my shoulder.
“Bring me back an apple,” my big sister, Molly, called as she was putting things in her backpack.
“Oh, apples would be nice,” Mom said.
“I’ll try, but I can’t promise anything.” That’s what Dad always says when I ask him to bring me back black-and-white cookies from the city. I patted the emergency cinnamon in my jeans, adjusted my floppy farm hat, and slipped on my backpack. Watch out, farm, here I come!
“Can I sit with you, Phoebe?” Camille asked me as we were going out to the buses.
“Okay,” I said.
“Hey, I thought you were sitting with me!” Sage piped up from behind me.
I froze. I hadn’t thought about riding on the bus with two best friends. Usually, Sage and I sat together, but I didn’t want to say no to Camille.
“How about we all sit together?” I suggested, even though I knew we would be crowded. They looked at each other and nodded.
When we got on the bus, I found a seat in the back and we sat down, me in the middle feeling hot and squished.
“Hey, can you guys move over?” I asked.
Camille moved over a little bit. “I’m going to fall off if I move any more.”
“Sage, can you?” I asked, fanning myself.
“Not unless you want me to jump out the window,” he said.
I slumped down in my seat. Maybe it wasn’t so lucky having two best friends.
After a hot and bumpy ride, we got to Goat Hill Farm. I expected to see goats running around everywhere, but I didn’t see any. The whole class got off the bus and lined up. We followed Mrs. B and the parent chaperones to the front of a building where a farmer lady was going to meet us. She wasn’t wearing overalls or holding a pitchfork (I once saw a picture of farmers who looked like that), but she did have on a big straw hat, so she probably was a real farmer. She said her name was Jenna, and she told us three very important farm rules. This is what they were:
1 No touching or feeding the animals unless she said we could. (Easy.)
2 We had to wash our hands before eating anything. (Kind of easy.)
3 We had to stay with the group at all times. (Super easy!)
“Now that we have the rules down, are we ready for some fun?” Jenna called out.
“Yeah!” I yelled back as loud as I could, but apparently nobody else was ready to have fun, because not a single other person answered. My cheeks started to turn red just like Camille’s.
“Okay, who would like to try gathering some eggs?” Jenna asked when we got to the chicken coop. I glanced around me as I stepped into a dark place filled with chickens. They didn’t seem scared of us, but I was a little scared of them. Jenna explained that chickens hatched eggs all day long, and that you had to put your hand under them to collect one.
“Phoebe, would you like to try?” Mrs. B asked. I spied some comfortable-looking chickens nesting in little wooden shelves over on the other side of the coop. The shelves looked like bunk beds.
“Okay,” I said, but stood right where I was. I wasn’t sure I wanted to put my hand near a chicken’s egg-coming-out area.
“Why don’t you stand over here?” Jenna said, pointing to the chicken bunk beds.
I slowly walked over and stared at one of the chickens. She stared right back at me with her funny little eyes. She almost looked like she was smiling.
“This is Elizabeth,” Jenna said. “She’s one of our best producers. She wouldn’t hurt a fly. Don’t worry, just reach right in there.” Jenna showed me how to slip my hand under the chicken and grab an egg.
I gave Elizabeth one last look in her tiny chicken eyes, held my breath, and stuck my hand under her. Then I felt it. A real live egg, all smooth and warm! I took it out. It was big and kind of bluish brown instead of bright white, which is what eggs usually look like at the grocery store. I held it up and felt just like I did when I won a soccer trophy last year. Pretty cool, huh?
“I got a real egg!” I called out. But as I held up my wonderful egg, I didn’t realize how delicate it was. I felt the shell collapse under my fingers, and gooey yolk poured down my arm.
“Oops,” Jenna said, smiling. “Let me get you a towel.”
Sage doubled over laughing, and I have to admit it would have been pretty funny if it wasn’t my egg and my arm. I glanced over at Camille, who had a very worried, slightly pink look on her face.
“Don’t worry, Camille,” I said as Jenna rubbed my arm all over with a damp towel. “It doesn’t feel as gross as it looks.”
Then it was Sage’s turn. Jenna brought him over to another chicken, but that chicken didn’t seem too happy, because this happened:
1 The chicken pecked at Sage’s arm.
2 Sage said, “Hey!”
3 Apparently chickens don’t understand what “Hey!” means, so she pecked him harder.
4 Sage yelped and fell backward.
“Sorry about that! These chickens can be unpredictable,” Jenna said, helping Sage up. Sage gave me a sideways glance and I tried not to smile, but the harder I tried, the harder I wanted to smile. Then I laughed out loud before putting my not-eggy hand over my mouth, and Camille giggled. Sage stomped over to us.
“Thanks a lot,” he said, rubbing his arm and using his extra-low serious voice, but he didn’t fool me at all, because a smile sneaked onto his face anyway.