Yes, the quartet was on summer break from school, but grandpa did not think that they should just play the time away. He said that he was a firm believer that too much free time on their hands would only lead them into trouble. So, he saw to it that at least three days out of each week, they went to work with him on his farm.
Grandpa’s farm was huge and he had a lot of people working with him. He grew several things on his farm and he had each crop laid out in fields. There was the sweet potato field, the onion fields, melons, and a section with bananas.
On the days they went to the farm with grandpa, the teens had to be up before the chickens. There was no leisurely breakfast spread at Nana’s big dining table. Those days they got thermoses of hot tea, rolls with jam, and boiled eggs or hotdogs packed in lunch bags to take with them. Rest assured, they were not going to starve. Nana saw to that. She always also sent them off with packed lunches of tuna or ham and cheese sandwiches and grandpa had a cooler with water and juice that he hauled onto the back of the truck.
Grandpa drove a large double cabin truck so they were all able to ride on the inside with him, which was a good thing because some days it rained. And a rainy day was no holiday. Rain or sunshine, farm work had to be done.
The following week after their watery escapades, the quartet returned to farm work. That Monday morning, they stumbled out of bed and got dressed while it was still dark.
“Hurry up, grandpa is ready,” Nana called up to them from the kitchen.
Cara and Jill shared a room and James and Tom shared a bunk in their uncles’ old room at the end of the upstairs corridor. Four very sleepy teenagers tumbled down the stairs, one after the other, stopping in the kitchen to Nana to collect their lunch bags before going out to the truck.
Grandpa had the engine running when they got outside and they quickly climbed in and he pulled out of the yard. He listened to morning devotions on the radio while the youngsters caught up on a few extra minutes of sleep.
“Come on sleepy heads,” Grandpa called as he opened the truck door and got out.
They had arrived at the farm but they’d been too much asleep to realize that the truck had stopped moving. They tumbled out as a tall, slender man who looked to be just a little younger than grandpa; and grandpa was sixty-three, came over to meet them. He wore a frown on his brow.
“Morning Ed,” the man said greeting grandpa.
“Morning Carl,” grandpa replied. Then he asked gruffly, “What’s wrong?”
“Dem thieves hit again,” Carl told him sounding angry.
“What did they take this time?” Grandpa asked, suddenly sounding tired.
“They hit the melons and some bunches of bananas.”
Grandpa shook his head sadly.
“We were set to send out a shipment of melons this week,” Grandpa said. “How bad is it?”
“Pretty bad. They hit the ones near to picking for shipping, which means we will miss this week’s crop.”
Grandpa groaned and pulled open the driver’s door and got back in. He called Carl to get in with him.
“Can we go too?” Tom asked.
Grandpa seemed about to say no and then changed his mind.
The teens got back in the truck as the engine roared to life and they headed towards the northern fields where the melon fields were. Grandpa and his crew had markers set out marking those that were ready for picking for sale to the local packaging plant and to be shipped to the agricultural distribution Center in New Providence.
When they arrived in the Northern fields, they all jumped out, and Grandpa and Carl began walking, Carl leading him to the area where the thieves had hit, and Cara and her cousins trotted behind to keep up.
“Hey,” Cara whispered to her cousins. “I have an idea, Let's help grandpa find out who has been stealing his crop.”
“How are we going to do that?” Jill asked, already sounding nervous. She was not adventurous like her brother and her cousins.
“I don’t know yet,’ Cara replied. “We’ll have to make a plan.”
Tom walking beside was chewing his mouth as he thought about it. He then said, his voice angry, “Yeah, we need to do something. Grandpa works too hard for people to just come and steal.”
“Count me in,” James said. “Let’s start looking for clues,” he added and his eyes began to dance with excitement at the prospect of a new adventure.