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!
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.