Sunday, March 2, 2008

Memories (installment 10)

My parents were city slickers when they bought the farm where they now live. I was not yet born, and living on a farm was all I knew growing up. The land my parents currently own was originally two farms, with two houses, and their accompanying barns...a total now of 3 barns, 2 houses, a mobile home, and some small outbuildings...chicken houses, well houses, dog houses. There are two different orchards, several different garden areas, and at least 3 wells. The property is just around 300 acres, and currently only has 4 horses, a couple of dogs, a bunch of chickens, and who-knows-how-many deer on it.

Over the years, we had a lot of different animals. I remember Mama giving horseback riding lessons to kids from town, on a few of the somewhere-close-to 10 horses we had. We also boarded an Arabian stallion, which resulted in two beautiful boarding a miniature donkey...dang, he was noisy!!! We had pigs for a while...they were nasty animals...Iunderstand they're better if they are able to be free-ranged, but ours were in a barn. We had rabbits, raised for meat. We had chickens...LOTS and lots of chickens...for eggs, and for meat. Those were in a run, and some were free-range. We had ducks (they didn't last long, because the foxes got them!). We had guinea hens....they didn't last long either...they all went wild on us... We had turkeys...stupid birds, every one of them. We had dogs...German Shepherds, Border Collies, and lots of mutts. We had cats...always lots of cats. We had goats....a LOT of goats...they were fun, and a bit of a pain...the fences wouldn't hold them, so they were always out on the road. We had cattle...beef cattle were Angus, and dairy catttle...all Holsteins. For a lot of years, we hand-milked a cow for our own milk. We never had pets. All of the animals were working animals...they all earned their keep, or they didn't last long. (This is something I think people who do not grow up on farms do not understand...)

I learned to butcher at an early age...some of my earliest memories are of helping my dad butchering his first cow. I also remember butchering goats and chickens. Chickens are the messiest.

We always had a garden...fresh green beans, peas, lettuce, tomatos, plus apples and pears and plums from the orchard, and our own beef that we had butchered and processed ourselves...we ate WELL. I was SHOCKED when I got married, and started shopping, and found out how expensive steaks really were! We also had fresh eggs, and got corn and peaches from neighboring well as the dreaded over-stock of zucchini...gotta LOVE zucchini bread....YUM!!

Most of my growing up years, we didn't have central heat or air conditioning. The house my parents live in has two wood burning stoves to heat it, and the only air conditioner is one in the window of the dining room, put there recently to keep the computers from getting too hot in the summer.

In the years after we left the dairy, we had a lot of left-over equipment scattered around...tractors, rakes, post-hole drills, hay forks (for the back of the tractor), trailers. My dad rarely kept a charged battery in the tractors, because we always had a good hill to "jump-start" them on... He also kept the generator, which really came in handy every winter when the ice storms broke off pine branches onto the electric lines!

Many more things come to my mind, but I have work to get done....more next week, I promise!


Norma said...

We used to have a garden, although I don't remember butchering, except for a few chickens. Great memories.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment about GWB.

D... said...

Ya'll did eat well!

I'm scared of chickens, roosters specifically. I had one jump on my chest & peck me when I was 4 or 5. Scary!

I'm envious of the horses!