Tuesday, October 29, 2013

That's The Life

We loved spending time on my grandparents farm. For myself, I enjoyed tagging behind my aunt and uncles. They were not much older than I. My youngest uncle lacks 4 days of being 3 years older than me. I got to hang out with the big kids for a change.

Sunday dinner on the farm was wonderful. Grandma would cook and she was such a good cook. If the weather was nice we could eat outside at the picnic table.

There was no indoor plumbing. Water for drinking, cooking, and washing was pumped and brought in from outside. There was a bucket of water with a ladle in it if you wanted a drink. Grandma's wood stove had a large reservoir that held water. If we needed to wash up we took water from that because it was warm.

There was an outhouse out back. I hate outhouses. I have to make this statement because I really hate them. They are inconvenient, unsanitary, and they STINK. You haven't lived until you had to use the outhouse on a hot summer day. And I have not even mentioned the flies. Then in the winter you cannot wait to finish because your bottom is exposed to all that cold air.

Anyway my grandparents outhouse was huge. It had three holes! And that is not counting the little one off to the side  for smaller members of the family. There was no toilet paper. It was expensive and tended to get knocked into the holes and was wasted. Sears, Roebuck, and Company put out a large catalog every year. It was at least two inches thick. They were easy to obtain so there was a supply of them. The pages were torn out as needed and used to clean oneself. I really hate outhouses.

There was a barn that was large enough to bring in the cows for milking. We would stand across from where Grandpa and my uncles were milking. We were not allowed too close in case one of the cows decided to kick.

The cows would be herded in at milking time and urged into stanchions. Their heads went into the stanchions where there was hay for them to munch on. A wooden bar would be moved to hold them in place while they were being milked.

So we would stand there and watch. If we were really good Grandpa and the uncles would tell us we could come slightly closer. Then they would aim and squirt the milk at us so we could catch it in our mouths

Grandpa always kept horses. He loved them so. He "broke" them for riding himself. He didn't ride them bucking and trying to throw him like you see in the movies. He gently broke them by being kind and letting them learn to trust him.

All of the children learned to ride and respect horses. There was no hard kicking or whipping. Nudges and movement of the reins was all that was necessary.

The horse that we learned on was phenomenal. Her name was Bird. She was so smart. She could tell by size and actions whether the person about to ride her was experienced or not. She was gentle and patient with us kids. She would walk around while we got used to the feel of sitting on top of a horse. As we gained experience she would trot, canter, and gallop.

Truly experienced riders were another matter. Bird would give them so much trouble. She would move as they prepared to ride. She would pull off the saddle blanket which was placed beneath the saddle to keep the saddle from irritating her skin and causing painful sores. She would nip at unsuspecting body parts. Her favorite trick was to hold her breath and make her stomach swell at just the time the person was trying to tighten the cinch that holds the saddle snugly in place. When she let out her breath and breathed normally the cinch was too loose.

One time my mother was riding Bird. Mom knew of Bird's trick about making the cinch loose. Mom knew all she had to do was give Bird a little poke in the ribs so she would let her breath out and an extra tug would tighten the cinch. That day Mom was distracted and forgot the nudge in the ribs. She mounted and went for a ride. All was going well until they came upon the first tree with a low lying branch. Bird headed straight for the branch. Mom ducked and leaned a bit to the side. the saddle slipped to the side and Mom found herself on the ground and Bird standing off a ways grazing on the fresh grass.

There will be more stories on the farm. Like I said we loved going the the farm.


  1. Aside from the outhouse description, everything else sounded like a wonderful childhood. I have one of the Montgomery Ward catalogs and can attest to it being very large as well, but would not want to use it for the purposes you described.

    1. I understand your reluctance. I did not like it either.

      The thing about the farm was that although we spent a lot of time there it was not home. That is what made it so special. And my aunt and uncles were so close to my age that it was like having older siblings. I did have a wonderful childhood. I never doubted that I was loved and wanted. Children do not need much else.