A little nostalgia this Saturday morning of down on the farm week. I actually wasn’t raised on a farm, we just lived in our little house by the ditch in the country. Our livestock was nothing more than roosters, hens and the occasional pig that we would butcher. However, mother’s large family, who lived just a few miles away, were all farmers so I spent much of of my childhood among farmers and their families.
It was a hard life, I have many memories of huge noon meals that my aunts prepared for the farm hands. Everything was homemade, meals filled with several types of meat, vegetables, biscuits, cornbread and a plethora of cakes and pies daily. Now that we are so “educated” about food and carb loading, I wonder how the men were productive after those huge noon meals.
My Aunt Idalene often had runt piglets on her back porch, and I would feed them with a bottle. They were adorable, as any baby is, rooting and squealing and sucking those bottles. She milked cows and had a cream separator to separate the milk from the cream. My aunts all churned their own butter every week, too. There were hen houses, I would be sent to gather the eggs, and inevitably I would not only step in chicken poop, but a hen would peck my hands when I tried to rob her of the eggs. I’ve been flogged by mother hens and chased by mama pigs, because I was always trying to play with their babies.
There were guineas, too, they laid little bird eggs that we would fry and eat. And canned meat, oh the canned meat, it was wonderful. Grandma always canned her young chickens, “pullets”, so small that they would fit in a wide mouth quart Ball jar. Canned sausage was a treat, but the best was the canned tenderloin. It was indescribably delicious, with the juices made into gravy. Oh, what I would give to have it just one more time.
My grandparents lived in a house with no electricity, it wasn’t that they couldn’t afford it, my grandpa was just a stubborn old man and he refused to activate it. Grandma had a “ice box” and I can still see my Uncle Gene bringing a block of ice in the house with ice tongs and putting it in the ice box so that she could cool her food. Before the days of the ice box, she would lower food into her well in a bucket to keep it cool. The gardens were always huge with seeds saved from year to year, and we always toured them on our weekly visits to see how things were growing.
Grandpa was a farmer, he farmed using a team of work horses, Bill and Joe, I can still see him harnessing up those horses and walking them through the fields. He smoked a pipe and grew his own tobacco, he would sit on his back porch, forming the harvested tobacco into u-shaped twists, tying it with twine and lining them up on nails driven into the porch wall to dry. Grandma always wore a bonnet when she went outside, and always had on an apron. She would gather eggs and food from the garden, hoisting up that apron to make a carrier for her bounty.
He and grandma raised ten children, five boys, five girls, and they all they knew was to work. An evening out for them was harnessing up a wagon and going to church. Grandpa drove a pickup truck, a 1949 Chevy, that my cousin Phyllis has now, rusty and parked in her farmyard, and she fills it with flowers in the summer. It’s just beautiful, I need to get a picture from her to share. I still remember the cracked, brown leather seats in that old truck and how much fun it was when he would load his dogs in the back of it and take the grandkids for a ride.
Those country roots run so deep, there is nothing in my world better than a ride at dusk in the country in the summertime with the windows down, the familiar sounds and smells bring back so many wonderful memories.
Oh, the country life, it was and will always be the best...