Friday, March 11, 2011

A Little Bit of Life on the Farm

I was always a little jealous of my boyhood buddies who lived on farms. My dad was a pastor and my grandpas were both mechanics, one worked on cars and the other one worked on trains. Since we didn't have any farmers in my family, I always looked forward to visits and overnights in the country. It always seemed like a great adventure to me, a chance to get away and get outside and have some fun.

My friend, Brent, must have had a very fun-loving father, because when they filled their big hay barn each year, they stacked the sixty pound bales around a cool series of long tunnels just big enough for little boys to squeeze through. In the deep dark middle of all that hay was a hollowed out clubhouse where we could hide out or plot secret attacks on the other boys or even sleep on the cold nights. Boy, we had some fun.

Another friend of mine, Richard, would often invite his "in town" friends out to the farm for Sunday afternoons or weekend overnights. Mr. Gray would drag us out of bed in the middle of the night and send us out to do the chores before breakfast. I learned about feeding cattle and slopping hogs and gathering eggs. Everybody had a job and everybody helped out. No goofing around until the work was done. Miss Betty always made us a big country breakfast, a real novelty for me, and then some nights we would cook "johnny cakes" over an open fire, a tasty cornmeal pancake that really hit the spot on cool autumn evenings.

But not every overnight had a happy ending. We had some strong-willed personalities with big egos that made winning at anything and everything of ultimate importance. I remember playing army one morning and having a heated argument that went something like this: "You're dead!" "No, I'm not, you missed me." "You are dead, you idiot! I got you! You're dead!" "Am not!" "Are, too!" Time to settle this like real soldiers. Hand to hand combat broke out. No blood, but enough of a fight that Mr. Gray had to break it up and give Richard a whipping right there in front of us. As I recall, we all had to go home early that day and face our own dads. Not an exciting prospect, either.

I remember painting fence posts and riding Shetland ponies and jumping out of the barn rafters into the feed corn. I remember watching the sun creep up over the cornfield in the morning and lying on my back under countless stars at night.

Every little boy and girl should get to spend a little time on a farm. I was blessed with great friends, good memories, and a life lesson or two from life in the country.

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