This story is a continuation to my previous posts about my childhood days on the farm. You can find those posts in my archives.
Even though these stories may seem simple and somewhat ordinary, they are still share-worthy because the memories which I hold dear from that simple, country life are important times, not only in my own history, but for that era in which people and communities lived and grew. Some of these small communities and rural areas are now almost unrecognizable. As housing, industry and commercialized agriculture expands, the small farm livelihood and purpose shrinks.
So, if you too experienced childhood on the farm, or even if you didn’t, I hope my stories will bring a smile to your heart as you recall your own yesterdays.
I was about 5 years old when my Mother remarried and we moved to the outskirts of a tiny town called Buena. It was a nice little rural community in those days. It was small, but had a little convenience store, post office, a tiny public library, beauty shop, and a small elementary school within walking distance from our home.
I have always loved the house we lived in. It was less than a mile from town, and sat on about an acre or so of land. The red, 2-story home resembled a barn, with a white, covered porch expanding across the front of the house. To a small child like I was, it felt like a mansion!
I shared a large, upstairs bedroom with some of my sisters, but outside was where we had most of our fun! It was a fantastic place to play! Oh, there were so many things to do!
Farm life suited us just fine. We had quite an array of animal life as well.
Mom had a beautiful, golden-brown Jersey milk cow, and we also had horses, chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs, goats, dogs and cats! My favorite cat was a huge, yellow-tabby tomcat, which I would pet and talk to on the back porch for hours!
My Mother, being the hard-working, ambitious woman she was, put the farm to work producing an abundance of food and produce for her family. I don’t know when she ever slept, as she worked from sun up til sun down, and then some!
But I truly believe she loved every bit of it. Seeing the bounty being canned, frozen, and stored away to meet the needs of her big family must have given her peace of mind, knowing her children would be fed well.
One year, she built 2 very large, framed screens, and set them up in the front yard. After lining them with plastic wrap, she spread a thin layer of pureed fruit over them which dried into home-made fruit leather (today they are called fruit roll-ups). She also used the screens to sun-dry sliced apples and other fruit in the fresh, natural sunshine.
Frozen cherries were one of our favorite summer time snacks, as well as sweetened, frozen sliced peaches. There was also plenty of home-canned cherries, peaches and pears.
At that time, there were 7 or 8 kids still living at home, which included my stepfather’s 2 school aged children. The youngest, a girl, was only 2 months younger than me, and my Mom would often sew matching outfits for us. (See picture below)
One winter, the older children built a real ice igloo!
You can’t spend all those hours out on the farm, and not have a few battle scars.
For instance, my hand bears scars from the day I ran out the back door to play. The front door was open, causing the back door to firmly slam shut, quickly taking the tip of my finger off. All I remember is screaming at the sight of the blood, and my mother wrapping my hand in a towel and holding me while I was taken to the hospital, where skin was grafted from my hand in order to repair my finger.
It wasn’t all fun and playing, as there were plenty of chores to be done. Pulling weeds in the garden wasn’t much fun, whereas collecting the eggs and giving the pigs their stinky, mushy food was definitely more interesting to me.
One particular evening, it was my turn to wash the dishes. I was probably about 8 or 9 years old. But that night, my older sister was having a slumber party and I didn’t want to wash dishes, I wanted to hang out with my sister’s friends!
So I carried on to my Mother about it, whining, and fussing and complaining, and I mean, I just kept on and on in my misery!
Mom finally had enough, and she firmly said, “Oh, just go on then! I’ll do them myself!”
Woo-hoo! I was free! I got to go have fun, right?
No! Because then, I felt so terrible and guilty, that I started crying and crying and begging my Mom to “please let me do the dishes!”, but she wouldn’t!!
My poor Mother! Whatever a wit’s end is, I’m sure I drove her to it that night!
Of course, it wasn’t a perfect time of life, and we had our share of difficulties, tragedy and loss, but because of our foundation of love… we endured.