A farmer’s alphabet

Ann Swanson

Years ago, I saved an article from a magazine about the farmer’s alphabet. It had pictures of everything from A to Z. It was such a neat review of farm life that I decided to use it here. Our farm had most of these things, if not all of them.

A – Apple – We always had our own apples. Sometimes we picked on the lower farm and sometimes at the upper farm. I remember having to wear an old pair of overalls in order to pick some apples on the side hill. There were a lot of prickers up there. My son was small. Every time I turned around he had a bite out of an apple.

B – Barn – Of course we had a barn. That is where the animals were kept. The year my daughter was born, we added a silo and another section for hay. Today that barn is still used, but it is being used differently since my son’s family is there. There are horses in the barn as well as pigs, and birds. The cows stay out in the fields all winter. Now they raise meat animals there.

C – Cow -We always had Holstein cows in our barn. They gave good quality milk and lots of it. The cows were milked twice a day 365 days a year. My husband and his father milked cows there first. Later our children joined their father in doing chores. I was lucky not to ever have to milk all the cows. My allergies kicked up whenever I spent an extended period in the barn.

D – Dog -While we were on the farm we had several dogs. My first dog was a white German Shepard. Duchess was a good dog. She guarded the children when they were outdoors. Next, we had Heidi and then Ebony = black and tan German Shepards. The dogs went to get the cows with the children. They were really working dogs.

E – Eggs – We bought our eggs from the farmer whose farm bordered our property. Henry came every week with eggs. By the later years, he could not see well. He put out his hand with money in it for us to make our own change. Once my son was on the farm, he had chickens. His son loved the chickens.

F – Farm – Our farm was called Meldick Farm a combination of grandpa’s name and my husband’s, Melvin and Dick. It is still named Meldick Farm but also uses the Barbed Heart Ranch for some things.

G – Garden – Grandma, and Grandpa always had a big garden. The soil was gravelly loam so things grew well there. When I lived in a trailer on the farm I helped with the garden. I planted as well as weeded and harvested. I canned what we grew so that we had food for winter.

H – Horse – We had ponies, but not horses. The children loved the ponies. Although the children were small, we helped them ride them. You could never take out one pony at a time. The one that was out always wanted back in the barn to be with the other one.

I – Icicles – Icicles hung from the barn during the winter. The barn got warm from the heat of the cows. There were also icicles on grandma’s house. It was not as tight as it should have been.

J – Jump – It was fun to jump in the hay when it was put in loose. After they went to bales it was not as much fun. The bales were hard and moved around a lot. It was hard to walk on them.

K – Kite – Flying a kite was part of the fun on the farm. Sometimes we flew kites when we had a family picnic. We have a movie of flying a kite out in the field. My stepbrother and his girlfriend brought over kites one year for the children. My husband took them out in the field to fly. I remember my son getting sick from watching the kite as it dipped and dove.

L – Lamb – We never had sheep on the farm. Now there are sheep. In the spring when the lambs are young it fun to watch them jump around and play.

M – Maple Syrup – We did not have maple trees on the farm. There were some on the upper farm so my brother-in-law and sister-in-law made maple syrup. My son did find some trees to tap when he moved to the farm. He wanted his son to know about the process so they made maple syrup one year. It was a very lengthy process and was not done again.

N – Neighbor – We had a Friendly Neighbor Club for years. We met at homes once a month. It was mostly a service organization since we took treats to the Rouse Home to entertain and served for area funerals. It was a nice way to get to know your neighbors. The club celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary with a party at the Gouldtown Church. Many of the older members who moved away returned to help us celebrate.

O – Owl – Often we could hear owls outdoors. My husband knew the calls of the different types of owls so he always told us what we were hearing.

P – Pumpkin – We used to grow pie pumpkins. They are small and sweet. We canned pumpkin for pies or froze it. My grandson and his dad grew pumpkins for Halloween. We have pictures of their sign and of people frequenting the patch. The last time I remember harvesting pumpkins we did it with a team of horses hooked to the wagon. Although Preston was little, he was out there helping. I am thinking that Grandpa drove the horses.

I had better stop here or my column will be too long for the space allotted. I will continue the alphabet next week right where I left off.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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