A painting I gave to my sister of the old Farm House in Iowa.
It seems like yesterday when my sister and I lived on a farm in Iowa. She was much more the farmer than I was. I could do without the chores and the endless summer’s tending of the field’s grains and corn, baling of hay for the cattle’s tummies and gathering of strawberries, blackberries, vegetables, peaches and cherries. Yet, as I look back it gave strength to our character and we carry a farming ethic, easily understood: Get up and do!
If my parents went out-of-town for a day or a weekend, my sister and I were left to take care of everything. My sister didn’t mind at all feeding the cattle, even though, one day they were so hungry and used to my father that they moved in to nudge her along. I don’t think they meant to harm, yet it is easy to get alarmed when six or so huge cattle come to you so you can’t move. She knew to bounce a head or two which would get their attention and when she proceeded they obeyed, although, I wonder would have been if they didn’t! This was a job I stayed far away. So, I still had the pesky chickens to feed, water and collect their eggs. Some hens would not move off their nest. To gain access to their eggs I had to get my hand under them and let them know I was the boss. I hated them because each one made me understand that they were the boss.
When winter came Iowa’s weather is a variety of condidiont: cold and white, damp and grey, wet or dry. Often when there was massive amounts of snow that fell, the quarter-mile journey to the main road from our house (sad the house sat dead center in a one hundred and sixty acre farm) made the trip to the road sometimes very ardurous. If there was a blizzard with high banks of snow my father still expected my sister and I to attend school. We had walk to the road, have our uncle pick us up and we would stay with him and my aunt. In my young days I wasn’t too tall and with short legs. My father was nearly six feet tall and had a wide gait. My sister could follow his steps in the snow with great difficulty. The snow was a foot or two high and as I followed her I couldn’t move to well. I got one foot up and into a deep boot print but I couldn’t get the other leg up over the snow bank to go forward. My father never thought about this and kept on going. My sister, thank god looked back and saw my dilemma. She yelled caustically for my father. He returned to me and yanked me out of the snow drift. He dragged me behind him and finally the road was insight.
In February and March that same path became soggy, deep ruts with mud and weeds. The truck could barely make it to the road. Sometimes it had difficulty. Finally my father left the truck at the road and walked back so that when it was necessary he could transport all of us with the tractor with a wagon behind. One night we were all to be at the school. We were to be well dressed and hope to stay that way in all the mud.
The wagon and tractor awaited my mother and I. Momma had been having a lot of abdominal pains but she said she was going. I felt so badly for her. The wagon ride was rough and she asked me to place both of my fists in front of her and then push her forward into the wagon to lessen the bounces. We made it to the road and my took a few deep breaths and put on a smile as she walked into the school.
This scenario repeated itself every year. On my seventeenth year I left to go to a school in New Haven, Connecticut. My sister had married and lived in Illinois. Momma continue to endure until my father retired and sold the farm
Finally, we were all away from the farm. My sister missed the farm. My mother praised the day it was gone and I never looked back to a place that was never a happy place to me.
P.S. Even though I never went back to Iowa to see the farm, the youthful time there built a treasurer trove of fond memories.. My sister and I now reminiscence–two old farts sitting and jabbering about what tickled us back on the farm.