Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Painting by Ben Viegers

I love farmers and their way of life. My sister married into a farm family and got to find out first hand what it was like. I would go visit her on weekends and stay with her for a few weeks in the Summer. My memories center around their old barn for the most part. They sold milk in those large aluminum milk containers, to a dairy truck that came by every day to pick it up. I would go watch the milk process as they milked each cow and fed them. It was nice and quiet in the barn and very early in the morning, so you could still smell the dew on the grass when you walked up to the barn. Inside it was warm and lit by kerosene lamps, with their nice pleasant glow. There was this nice smell of hay and sweet, creamy milk. I would always drink a glass as they poured into into the containers.

There was one little cow that got personal attention. My Sister's Mother in law would get a little black, three legged stool, and pull up to the cow, all the time telling her what a good and nice cow she was. I could tell this was more than just a cow to her. She loved this cow and really enjoyed milking her. She asked me once if I wanted to see the star in the cow's teats and I leaned over to see. She sprayed my face full of warm milk. LOL. That's not the only trick she pulled on me. I was very gullible about farm things.

I did try chopping cotton one time. I was told to chop, leave a hoe's width and then chop again, It ended up looking so neat. I was very proud of myself. I also developed a really painful set of blisters on my hands. But the memory is still good.
I also picked cotton that Summer. I picked and picked,,,,cut hands and fingers, dragging that long heavy, cotton bag. By the end of the first day, I just knew I had made a fortune. My bag had a lot in it. We stepped up to the scales and weighed. I picked twenty lbs.. After all that hard work....everyone else had picked at least two hundred and some had a whole lot more, even the little kids outpicked me. I was just no good at this and retired the next day. There had to be a better way of earning movie money. They tell me a really good picker could pick three or four hundred lbs in a day. I don't know how they did it. I guess hungry children at home are a great motivator.

My first experience with a vegetable garden, brought the kind of embarrassing story you just don't want floating around the family and retold often. My sister had to go to town and in those days, "go to town", could take all day. They bought groceries, paid bills, got animal feed, visited the farm store for any necessary farm supplies, picked up their checks at the dairy, went to the drug store etc. They had to make sure they got all the supplies they needed because they only made the trip about every two weeks. I was told to go to the garden and pick some turnip greens and make some corn bread for supper. Now I knew how to cook fairly well at an early age but I didn't know how to harvest vegetables. I went out to the garden and pulled a good mess of greens, and gathered a few green onions.

I made the best dinner. I cleaned those beautiful white turnips and chopped them up, added the well washed greens, fried a piece of salt pork and added that along with some onion and made the corn bread. I felt really proud. My Sister and her husband came home all tired and hungry. I set the table, piled bowls high with the greens and juice, brought out cold glasses of milk and my pretty, brown and crusty cornbread...and then my brother in law took his first bite. He took another bite and looked at me. "Where did you get these greens" he asked..."On the first row in the garden", I said...he started to laugh and then my Sister joined in...I couldn't figure why they were laughing. Then he told me I had picked a nice mess of white radishes. I cooked the radishes and the tops, just the way you do turnip greens. But they ate the resulting greens, bless them and even said for radishes they weren't so bad...LOL....I guess if you are starving, anything taste good.


smilnsigh said...

Lovely memories...

And your sister and her husband were dear, to eat what you'd made. Even if you did make a little mistake, along the way. :-)

Miss Mari-Nanci

Sylvia K said...

Those are indeed lovely memories. I use to visit an aunt and uncle on their dairy farm in Texas and I remember it much as you do. I remember taking a bath in a big tin tub in a tiny room off the sleeping porch. He bought me my first horse and I would ride him down to and in to a small pond, slide off his back and hold on to his tail and he would pull me around. My parents were horrified, but then most of my antics back then got that reaction.
Thanks for the memories!

Melanie said...

What lovely memories right down to the smells. I was lucky that one of my schools had a dairy herd of Jerseys. In the 3rd year pupils could be given a calf each to wean and look after.

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