Country life from a kid's perspectives. (County neighbors).
For all of my 15 years I have lived on a farm. My earliest memories are of standing in my playpen looking out the window at the farm buildings, the chickens and our dog. The farm is a wholesome environment for all families. It is a place where a kid can be a kid. My seven brothers and sisters and I have had so many good times here playing and getting dirty. I remember playing Blind Man's Bluff on top of a trailer! This was all fun and laughter until the poor "Blind Man" disappeared over the edge! We are lucky no one ever got seriously hurt.
We played "chickens" in the barn--that was a great way to get dirty! The big old barn echoed with our strange cackles as we sat on nests of "eggs" and hatched "chicks," until we decided that sitting on rocks hurt too much!
Riding cattle was another thing we did--and still do. Although I am a little more cautious about that since our big Holstein "Luke" took me for a ride I'll never forget. Luke had a really bad habit of standing still or going extremely slow when we wanted to get moving. Once I hit him on the rump to get him going--and he did go, then suddenly stopped. I went flying! It took a while before I'd get back on him again.
There are so many things you can learn working with animals on a homestead. One of these is letting go of pets when butchering time comes. My sisters have a hard time with that and their rabbits. There comes a time when you have to butcher rabbits though, or the farm would be overpopulated with them.
There is one animal on this farm I wouldn't mind butchering--our milk cow, Bernadette. I know she gives good milk and all, but she and I just don't get along. One time when I was milking her she kicked out and knocked me in the manure. Oh I was mad! Covered with manure and rubber boots full of milk, I sat down again. Whack! Back in the manure! I could almost see laughter in that cow's eyes. What makes it so frustrating is that Bernadette gets along just fine with my brother and Dad. Needless to say, after that incident I was craving steak and hamburgers for a week.
I think my sisters are more sensitive about their pet goats than they are about their rabbits. When people come to our farm for fresh goat meat, the girls try every trick in the book to get people to to buy the other sister's goat instead of their own. They try things like, "But Dad, my goat's a girl!" "Dad sell them Silvana's goat, her's is fatter than mine!" "Daddy, Peanut would make such a good father!" Unfortunately these ploys usually are in vain and some happy heads go home dreaming of roast goat, Oh well, in the spring there is a whole new batch of kids to choose a pet from.
We make homemade cheese from our cow milk--I like the aged stuff the best. I am going to have to explain to our city-slicker friends that no, it is not my sister's feet stinking UP the bedroom, it's Mom's cheese hanging in the attic! That cheese is really good stuff. (I try not to think that Bernadette is the source of the milk.)
With farm life comes the joy of learning how to drive the tractor. Dad has an old '58 Case 800. I am learning how to drive and am having pretty good luck, although I only go about two miles per hour and clutch the steering wheel with shaking white hands. I didn't have as much luck with my uncle's old John Deere. I tried to "help" Dad mow a field that was full of thistles. He had to redo it.
The one animal I love the most on this farm is our sweet dog, Susie. I think she loves my brother Clayton more than me, though. He is always rolling all over the ground with her and yapping like a dog. I do love her but I don't really care to go that far.
There are nights in the summer when you will find our family gathered around our fire pit in the front yard. We pray together, roast marshmallows or just look up at the stars soaking up the wonderful feeling of family togetherness. Out here in the country where there are no city lights to dim them the stars are just gorgeous!
One night we decided to sleep out in the yard and watch the stars. After a while we moved onto the porch hoping the mosquitoes wouldn't be so bad there. We were out of luck. Of course, each of us wanted to prove that we were the bravest and the toughest, so we stayed out as long as we could stand it. One by one, throughout the night we retreated to the safety of our beds. I think Clayton stuck it out all night. (Probably only because Susie was sleeping beside him snapping at all those mosquitoes!)
We have had the opportunity to see animals give birth many times. I will never forget the time our goat Blacky was about to give birth. Blacky was not very young anymore, in fact, she was past her kidding days. I don't know why, but it seems like goats always pick the coldest, windiest, yuckiest days of the the year to have their kids. Blacky picked just such a day.
After she had been in labor for an abnormal amount of time, we knew that something was wrong. The first thing we did was bring that poor old goat into our basement so she would be warm. We put down newspaper and did everything we could to make her comfortable. We three oldest kids stayed up all night to watch--it was an amazing experience. Everything turned out all right for Blacky, and she is still here with us.
Yes, I love living here on our 17-acre homestead with my family. Being the oldest isn't always easy, but it's not too bad! There are so many fun things we have done here that others will never even dream about. Forts in the grove, swimming in mud puddles, going plum picking and bringing home more ticks than plums ... I could go on and on, but it would take too long. So I'll leave you with these episodes of a farm kid's experiences. To those of you who are raising your kids on the farm--you are definitely on the right track.
JESSICA ANET CALLENS MINNEOTA, MN