Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Vacation At The Farm
My mother-in-law and father-in-law had a farm. They weren't farmers. They only had forty acres and those acres are located on hills that are next to impossible to grow crops. But Mom held onto that land with her fists. It was paid for and that gave her security that she had not felt at any other time in her life.
My father-in-law worked in town at various jobs. When he worked at the meat packing plant they had good money coming in. At any rate he took care of his family to the best of his ability.
They always had a big garden and Mom canned most of the yield. She stored the canned goods and potatoes from the garden in a cave dug into the hill. Dad kept a tractor to do the heavy work. You can see that they were farmers at heart.
My children considered the farm to be "home". Whenever we would go to visit there they had such a good time.
We lived in a big city. There is not much freedom to be a normal child in the city. The dangers are many and I did not want them getting into trouble.
As a matter of fact my children said we put them at a disadvantage by raising them with the values we knew growing up. They were city kids with rural values. I think we were right but I can see that it was hard for them because they did not feel like they belonged.
But they belonged on their grandparents' farm. Grandma cooked on her combination gas/wood stove. Her food was basic simple food... the kind kids like. She would sit and tell them stories about when their father and aunts and uncles were little.
Grandpa gave them rides on his tractor. He had a big scoop that attached to the front of it and they loved riding in that. Grandpa smoked small cigars. That fascinated them because people they knew smoked cigarettes.
My youngest son was still in diapers when we visited one time. He followed Grandpa everywhere. Then I saw him puffing on what looked like the butt of a cigar. Horrified I grabbed that dirty thing from his mouth. He had found a piece of tree branch that looked like Grandpa's cigar. If Grandpa was doing it he would too. And Grandpa loved having his grandson copy him.
Grandma made ceramics. It was something she enjoyed and she picked up a bit of extra money. She kept s picnic table under a tree just outside the window in the living room. Cardinals nested in that tree every year.
When grandchildren were visiting she provided them with paints and unpainted or often painted ceramics to have fun with. They loved it and it kept them occupied for a long time. There was a ceramic frog that had been painted so often I wondered why the new layers of paint stuck.
They did not keep livestock any more either. Of course there were usually chickens. Occasionally they would fatten a calf or hog for butchering. The kids had a good time feeding the chickens. There were laughs all around when they would toss clods of dirt that exploded into small clumps and the chickens pecked at those too.
The gliders were where we sat on a warm evening to enjoy being outside. The gliders moved back and forth in a way similar to a rocker but the ride was so much smoother. We would sit and talk to catch up on family news. Or maybe we would just glide and say nothing. It was that relaxing.
When we would go to visit Sunday afternoons were fun. Family who lived in the area came to see us. Cousins that my children seldom got to see were there. It is a large family.
Once I was going to run to the store when everyone was there. Mom was so worried about me watching for the children. I was so busy watching for kids that I backed right into the ditch.
I laughed as did almost everyone else. But Dad muttered about women drivers as he went to get the tractor to pull me out. He was having the time of his life feeling useful but of course he could not show it.
Dad always had a dog. Usually they were males but once he had a female. As females dogs will do she had puppies. We had promised the boys (I only had the two older ones then) that they could have one. When they saw the puppies they each had a favorite. We decided that they could each have one.
My sister-in-law decided to go shopping while the family was gathered. She was being careful of the children because her mother always worried about cars around the kids. She was carefully watching all the children as she backed out of the driveway.
Suddenly she felt a small bump as at the same time she heard screams of horror. She had been so busy watching children that she had run over one of the puppies. She felt so bad because she was an animal lover. She cancelled her trip to town and there was a funeral. My boys ended up with one dog instead of two.
The farm was sold after both Grandma and Grandpa were gone. Their little ramshackle house was torn down as it should have been but it hurt. The last thing to go was my sister-in-law's trailer house. It was just this past summer that it happened.
The man who purchased the farm is very nice. He has built a very nice home for himself there. He has let the whole family know that we are welcome to go there any time to walk the hills like we did when Mom and Dad were still the owners.
All that is left to remind us of home now is Mom's beautiful weeping willow tree and Dad's yard light. And it is still home.