Growing up on a farm was lots of fun, and I was never bored although I had few other children as companions. As I indicated last week, being alone sharpened my imagination, and I credit being an only child with my becoming a writer.
I was reminiscing about my childhood and thinking of stories I could relate here when I began thinking about events that were funny either at the time they happened or have become humorous looking back on them. I thought you might enjoy hearing about some of them.
We used a Holstein bull to impregnate our cows, and he was a real handful for my Grandfather and my father. I remember the enclosure we used to house him. It was over six feet high and made of large posts, but somehow he managed to get out of it now an again. He ran my dad up the windmill several times with my grandfather shaking his head and saying dad wasn’t able to manage the beast. We’d always have to call Granddad to get the animal corralled again. Then one day, my mother called me to the window which looked out on the barnyard. There were Dad and Grandfather both up the windmill, the bull running around in the yard at the bottom. Although it gave Dad a chuckle to have the same fate befall my grandfather, it took a call to our cousin to help get the bull penned again.
My mother was a woman without much of a sense of humor. In fact, I saw her do something funny only once that I remember. All our empty cans were put into a large round, wooden box in our back hallway and then taken by my father to be emptied into a ditch in our North field. That was a common way for all farmers to dispose of cans and plastic. Paper and cardboard were burned, vegetable composted and other food thrown to the hogs. Our old cook stove, which must be worth a fortune today, is lying buried somewhere out in that field. Mom always had to nag Dad to empty the can box. It often was overflowing by the time he got to it. One day, after weeks of Mom bothering him about the box, he and I drove into the driveway to see the kitchen window open.
“What is your mother doing?” asked Dad.
She had opened the window and screen, was tossing the empty cans into the yard and laughing at what she was doing. It became her threat whenever the can box needed emptying. We all thought it was pretty funny.
I loved spending time with my dad, especially when he went into the pasture in the afternoons to get the cows in for milking. This was before I went to school so I was only four or five years old. One day, some of the cows wandered off toward the timber on our property. My dad told me to go get them. When I got there, they headed toward me, large beasts lumbering toward this tiny gal. I turned and ran.
“Face them down,” yelled my dad. As if I would take on two Holstein milkers intent upon clearing a path toward their evening meal.
It’s a funny picture now, but it was terrifying then.
I’m A Rebel
I drank raw milk until we sold our dairy herd when I was around sixteen. When I started kindergarten, we had milk time each morning and were served a snack plus a small bottle of milk from the local commercial dairy. The milk, of course, was pasteurized and homogenized. The first day I took one sip of that milk and refused to drink it. I continued this milk boycott for several more days until the teacher sent a note home to my mother saying I refused to drink my milk. My mother informed the teacher that we drank raw milk, a habit which horrified her. To save further fuss, Mother encouraged me to try to drink the milk. I tried, but always hated it. Other farm families drank raw milk, but I must have been the only child who protested. I was a quiet rebel.
The other rebellious thing I did in kindergarten involved the tissue my mother always sent to school with me. I never wanted the darn thing, never used it, and noticed the other children were not similarly equipped, but how to rid myself of it? We began each morning sitting in a circle singing songs and having stories. I pulled my tissue out and deposited on the floor behind me. When we got up, the tissue lay on the floor.
“Who’s tissue is this?” asked the teacher. No one claimed it. I was proud of how clever I was, but one day, the teacher must have been cleverer than I and watched us pinpointing where the tissue was located.
She just had to embarrass me by saying, “I believe this is yours.”
I handled the tissue issue by asking my mother not to send one to school with me. I told her there was a box on the teacher’s desk in case I needed one. I don’t know if that was true, but it took care of my tissue dilemma.
What memories that delight you do you have of your childhood? Do these ever find their way into your writing?
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