Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shocks and Homemade Lemonade

Usually I sleep through thunderstorms that pass over us during the nighttime.  But, last night a little white fuzzy paw gently kept touching my head so I'd wake up.  It wasn't that she was afraid of the storm, but rather needed a drink of water and use the potty pads that she's trained to use in the house.  We keep them both downstairs, so she and I carefully crept down the steps, did our thing, and went back up, cuddled back in, and fell back asleep.

Severe storms were in the forecast for our area, but I don't know how much it rained or if there were winds or heavy rains that may have caused damage.  The corn crop is growing fast and furiously, and it'll be interesting to see how high it is by the Fourth.  Years back it was a big deal for the corn to be "knee high" by the Fourth of July.  Modern fertilizers have the growth far beyond that nowdays. 

Summer is going fast, don't you think?  We notice that some oat fields are headed out and starting to turn color, and some fields have been flattened somewhat by high winds.  Farming has changed so much since I was a kid, I barely know what's what anymore.  Some of the machinery that crawls through town here is so huge, and I have no idea what they do with it.  Of course, farming isn't tending to a couple hundred acres anymore.  Big farmers are using this big machinery to work thousands of acres. 

I remember the days when a bunch of small farmers would get together for "threshing" the oats.  And remember the straw pile?  The men would make shocks out of bundles of grain, and I always thought a field of shocks was a beautiful thing.  When farmers worked together harvesting the crops, our mothers would bake chocolate cakes and cookies, fix sandwiches, make lemonade out of real lemons and real sugar, and we'd pack up the food and drive it up to the field so the guys could take a rest and grab a bite about 4 o'clock in the afternoon.  The men would be sunburned, all chaff from the oats, itchy and sweaty.  My daddy always wore a wide-brimmed straw hat and striped bib overalls.  Back then our neighbors were extensions of our families.  Helping each other with big jobs like threshing was just the way they did things back then.  While the guys were working in the fields, mothers and daughters milked the cows by hand, fed the pigs, and tended to other barnyard chores.

Daddy used to say that there'd come a day when the little guy would be taken over by the big guy, and he sure had that right.  My heart will always stay in the days when cattle roamed the green pastures, a little kid and his dog walked to 'get the cows' before milking time,  and a husband and wife raised their family on a small farm and took mighty pride in doing so.  Respecting Mother Nature as I do, it pains me to see the timbers being taken down, wildlife habitat being destroyed--all in the quest of more grain and more money.  But, the world doesn't stand still, it progresses on a course guided by the human spirit--good or bad.  Each generation does what it feels it must do to keep the ball rolling.

I could write volumes about growing up on a farm.  My memories are for sure sugar-coated by now.  The real mccoy wasn't easy, it wasn't always fun, and our parents worked far too hard for what they got in return.  But, for us kids, it was a good wholesome place to grow up, learning to accept birth and death, getting attached to animals and then watching them be taken to market.  We learned the tough stuff right from the get-go.  We weren't pansied, that's for sure.  My first sixteen years were spent on our family farm, and those years molded me into the person I am today.  It was there that I learned to work hard, to save money for a rainy day, to be compassionate to all living things (except mosquitoes and snakes), and most of all to love every inch of the ground we walked on every day.  Nobody had to tell us we were walking on sacred land.  We just knew it.