Growing up on a farm taught us the value of hard work.
You don't get anything for free. You work hard and your word is your bond. If you wanted food to eat, you worked in the garden, helped with the animals, learned to catch and clean fish, or did some other job as instructed. My granddad had a saying, "If you are old enough to catch a fish, you are old enough to clean it". I learned to clean fish before I learned my alphabet.
My dad and granddad built a wooden boat to use when fishing in the pond on the farm. I loved fishing in that boat. It broke my heart when it went missing one day. I still cannot believe someone had the nerve to steal the boat from a pond so close to the house. We made fishing poles out of dried dog fennels that we found close to the pond. We even caught a 3 lb catfish on a dog fennel pole on one of our fishing trips.
How many five years old are given a hatchet to carry while they tromp through the woods. My granddad taught us a healthy respect for all tools and the proper way to use them and gave my brother and me each a hatchet to use when we explored the woods around the farm. We chopped down many 3" thick trees as we forged a path through the woods in search of bears and such. Many wonderful hours were spent with my brother as we wandered the many acres of my grandparents' farm in search of adventure.
I think digging potatoes was one of my favorite summer activities, at least, until I found the fire ants. What can be more fun for a kid than to be given permission and even encouraged to dig in the dirt? There had to be at least one dirt clob fight before we were done.
Picking up pecans was a fall time event. The pecan orchard had numerous rows of trees. We raked the leaves and pecans into long rows that were about 12 to 18 inches wide. Then we sat or crawled around on the ground and sorted the pecans from the leaves. After all the pecans were picked out of the leaves then the leaves were set on fire. Hot dog and marshmallow roasting time. YUM! Of course pecan pie and cakes were a must also.
My grandmother had chickens in a coop in the backyard. I learned at a young age the art of wringing a chicken's neck, plucking feathers after scalding the chicken in hot water. I was too young to help with the cutting and gutting since the chickens were not much smaller than me. A game of chase and unintentionally cornering the rooster in the wash shelter resulted in a scratch across my cousin's face. The scar is still visible to this day. The rooster ended up in a pot of dumplings shortly after that incident.
I remember clothes washing being done with a wringer washing machine. It was an open top washing machine which would swish the clothes back and forth. The water had to be drained manually unlike today's washing machines. There was two rollers above the tub that you fed the clothes through to squeeze the water out. Then they were placed in a separate tub of cold water to finish rinsing the washing powders out of the clothes. After a thorough rinse the clothes were run through the wringer again and were ready to hang on the clothes line to dry. Lucky for me there was a quick release on the rollers. I got my hand stuck in them more than once, one time all the way up to my elbow. I had to have help on that occasion as I could not reach the release button.
Sometimes, we all need a little help.
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The values learned while being raised on the farm
continue to guide me through everyday life.
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