There are people in this world who do not enjoy birthdays. Try though I might, I do not understand these folks. I LOVE birthdays, weddings, anniversaries… all those celebrations meant to make you and your love feel special. June 12th was the Urban Farmer’s birthday, the big 3-0! He was so busy with seeds, weeds and critters, he incorrectly argued with me which day of the week his birthday was. Though we celebrated his birthday with brunch, themed gifts and his dinner requests, it was completely low key. I didn’t even bake a birthday cake (peach tarts do not count!), and in the book of Quelcy, if I don’t bother to make you a birthday cake, you should start to suspect something is amiss. I may as well declare my indifference to you. Something was amiss however… major scheming!
I have never seen the Urban Farmer’s eyes light up as much as they did when a group of volunteers came to the farm to get their hands dirty on his behalf. Since he wouldn’t be able to leave the farm for his birthday, the next logical step was to bring everyone to the farm. He is one of the most selfless and least materialistic people I know. Having his friends and family give their time and labor would make his heart soar, so the idea of the Dirty Thirty- a truly dirty thirty- was born!
His family and I schemed and plotted secretly. I nearly had an anxiety attack when I sent the Facebook invite. Would he see it somehow? Could Facebook please stop suggesting I invite him!!! Flood warnings and a 100% chance of rain bested our first surprise attempt, and we had to postpone. Meanwhile, he tried to understand the mysterious appearance of a porta potty on the farm, not once, but twice. I bit my tongue and held back laughter as he hypothesized the reappearance of the porta potty was surely evidence of drug trafficking.
After downplaying his birthday, fibbing and sneaking around, the sunny surprise day arrived, and we got him good…!
The poor guy’s first reaction was to throw his truck in reverse and escape the angry mob who surely had arrived to shut down his farm. Luckily, his brother was in the truck, patted him on the back and through laughter said, “Happy Birthday, man!” He emerged to hear the bagpipes blasting “happy birthday” and see an eclectic mix of friends and family ready to dig their hands in the dirt.
Friends, family, farmers, novices… everyone got to work, and the farm never looked so good!
For once in his life, the Urban Farmer was able to drink beer and kick up his feet while the farm transformed before his eyes. Hillsides covered in a thick forest of weeds re-emerged with potential for planting, paths widened, and the vegetables had more room to breathe. After all that work, there was plenty to celebrate, plenty to eat and plenty to drink!
There was also a very lucky Julep, who snagged a fallen sausage. It was a happy day for all!
And finally… there was a birthday cake!
Because cake is how I show I care, this farm-inspired, Beet Upside Down Cake was all for him, for the one I love!
There were extra cakes for everyone else because I do care about them too.
He also received his late Grandfather’s birdhouse and that creepin’ squirrel. When he was younger, he salvaged it from someone’s trash and snuck into his mom’s decor. Imagine her shock when she finally discovered it! Now the wide-eyed, weirdo lives in our home.
Here’s to his Dirty Thirty, to all the Urban Farmer has accomplished and all that’s in store, to his great big heart and the ways he makes us all better humans. I hope he felt special because he truly is, and everyone deserves to feel special when their birthday rolls around. Here’s to all the friends and family members too! The farm is sparkling like never before!
Check out the Beet Upside Down Cake recipe in Part II!