|Farm life never suited my mother, and when she was able to, she left and never looked back on the dairy she grew up on. She only returned so her children could visit their grandparents and other relatives, and that was only once a year at best. My fondest memories as a child are of bottle feeding baby calves with my uncle, gathering eggs from the hen house that was filled with softly clucking Jersey Black Giants, and running carefree through the acres and acres of mountain pastures. How my mother could have given it all up never failed to confuse me, at least until I was old enough to understand how her family was, but that's another story. ;)|
Years later when I was old enough to drive out there myself, the endless work involved in farming began to dawn on me as I found myself shucking acres worth of corn, moving cattle from pasture to milking parlor and back to the pasture again, hauling feed, and more, but I still loved the time spent there. The old two story farm house, built in the late 1800s, was like a fantasy home to me, with it's many spacious bedrooms, huge kitchen that could easily hold half a dozen people hard at work canning pickles, and it's full length front porch that was always covered in plants and people. The formal parlor that was never used, and an unused room that I didn't discover for years, and even then only by accident, added an air of intrigue to the place. I used to dream of owning a house just like it, and have recently begun working on redesigning it's original floorplan to have drawn up into blueprints.
A few more years later, when I was in my early 20s, I went back one last time. I had my horses with me and planned on staying a while, and this time I learned what work really meant. I didn't know what being cold was like until I found myself on horseback in the freezing December drizzle, rounding up cattle from the steep mountain slopes, tears running from my eyes as the stinging wind blinded them. My hands and fingers became difficult to straighten out after a few months of hauling dozens 5 gallon pickle buckets full of feed to hungry cows over and over, because the feed auger had long since broken beyond repair. My back became stiff and sore after shoveling manure off the holding pen left by 200 Holsteins because the tractor was old and couldn't be wasted on things that a person could do. Normally a night owl, I found myself falling into bed as early as 8 pm, and asleep within minutes. When I left, the reality of what it's like to make a living on a farm had finally sunk past the rose tinted memories of chasing chickens and feeding baby calves.
I learned a lot from my time on my grandparent's farm, the most important lesson being that unless it's in your blood, you won't last. Apparently it's in my blood, as I bought my own farm last year. I chose to raise show quality Boer goats instead of milk cows, and my fields are sprouting hay instead of feed grade corn, but not much else is different. I only wish I had more memories of those past times to help me now, since I'm pretty much on my own with this place. Took me some time and a row of fence to figure out how to drive the tractor, and I'm still at a loss as to how I'm supposed to get it to rain when I need it to, but this place is finally coming together. With any luck, I'll be able to provide a few rose tinged memories for my neices and nephews before they're too old to overlook the hard work involved.
Jade - Outlaw Boer Goats, from TX, entered 2000-03-10