Thursday, November 10, 2011


In November, American’s focus on thankfulness: for their country, their blessings, and their families.  I am going to spend one day here focusing on being thankful for my FARM family and the laughs and lessons they provide.

My dad, Bob, grew up on a livestock farm in McLean, Illinois, with his four younger siblings, Susan, Marcia, and twins Jack & Jill. With my grandparents, Carl and Dorothy, they raised beef cattle, hogs, chickens, and sheep and grew corn, soybeans and alfalfa. I can never get enough of hearing the stories they have to share, here are a few:

When I sit and think about my favorite memories, it occurs to me that most of them involve animals… and me being ornery. Two specific instances with skunks come to mind. One time I was mowing hay with a sickle mower and the tractor I was using didn’t have a good seat so we fashioned up a wadded up gunny sack for a cushion. With every pass I made, I could see a momma skunk with her babies hanging out on one end of the field. As it was getting close to noon, I started to drive the tractor home for dinner, I decided that those babies would make some pretty good pets, so I stopped and picked up two of them and put them in the gunny sack. When I got home, Mom was standing on the side walk. I walked right up to her with a big smile on my face holding the sack of skunks and said, “Guess what I got!?” She could smell them before I even got half-way up the walk and was none too happy about it. I put them in a rabbit cage, but the next morning they had escaped. I’m guessing they might have had a little help.

 We had one ram that was really mean, I mean downright MEAN. One time I was out feeding the sheep and the ram started to chase me, I jumped up on a rack of wood and was stuck, he wouldn’t let me down. After a while, I started throwing 2x4’s at him to get him to leave and he just deflected them with his head. I remember being up there for a long time before getting down, but I can’t remember how exactly I was finally able to.

When I was in grade school we had a really gentle Angus bull. He wasn’t bottle-raised but you wouldn’t have known it, he acted more like a pet than a bull. Whenever we moved the cows I would just jump up on his back and ride him!

There are so many great memories it’s hard to just pick a few, but I do vividly remember Jack holding my hand while he held on to the electric fence, that was a real hoot! I also remember having to bottle feed a calf that we named Bobby. This was during the time Bob was in Vietnam, thus his namesake!

A simple, but favorite memory was playing in the haymow with new kittens. I loved my time doing that! Living in the country we didn’t have close neighbors, but I did like to ride my bike up to my friend's house which was on the other end of the country block.

A very important lesson learned was to never go near an electric fence with Bob... I can remember him sticking my foot on the electric fence when we were with our Dad out checking the fences.

Some of the days spent working were also some of the most fun, we spent many hours riding on the hayrack wagon stacking hay as we baled and then sending them up in the barn and stacking them yet again. While this doesn’t sound like much ‘fun’, we also played up in the barn a lot. We had ropes tied to the beams and would swing across from one bale pile to another.
I remember all of our 4-H projects. From planting flowers in the garden, in fact they were marigolds and I planted them in the design of 4-H, to our cattle for showing. Bob always had the one with the curly hair and mine was always straight. I tried to make waves on mine with the curry comb. We fed them their feed mixed with STICKY molasses. And I of course can’t forget breaking them to lead. Sometimes I didn't know whether the cattle or the tractor was going to win.

Mom would always have fried chicken for us on Sunday Dinners. I remember my Dad wringing their necks and they would be running around the barn lot, then Mom would clean them down in the basement in boiling water. Once the feet were cut off, I would take them and stand them on the counter so I could paint their toenails. The stinky chicken feathers were not very appetizing, but when the chicken was done it was always good!

From playing in the hay mow to electric shocks, I think it’s pretty awesome that I have a lot of the same memories as the generation before me on the exact same piece of ground. And for that, I am thankful.


  1. Great post - love it!
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  2. I loved hearing about all of your memories and looking at the pictures! Laughing about the skunks and the electric fence!