Scheduling vacations with a farmer
I really should have talked to my mother before I agreed to marry a farm boy.
My mother would have been able to tell me what life was like on the other side of the field-where the home and family came together each day. And that getting the farmer away from the farm was comparable to removing stubborn toenail fungus from the toenail.
Actually, my parents did pile everyone in the family roadster a handful of times to get away. We were a family of nine heading out to Yellowstone National Park, the Black Hills and to eastern Iowa once to see that part of the only state my dad ever called ‘home.’
I’m sure there was a tranquilizer bottle somewhere in the glove box on each occasion.
But those trips didn’t happen often. When you live with a farmer, there are only certain times of the year when vacations are possible. Of course, the school year is taken, so that leaves summer time. If we were going on vacation we’d have to wait until the crop was planted and cultivated, the beans walked and the hay was baled for us and all the neighbors.
There were mechanical breakdowns, buildings that needed attention and livestock that needed to be tended-especially when the sows were having pigs. The sweet corn needed to be frozen, chickens had to be cleaned, garden produce preserved and cows needed to be milked.
No wonder the word “vacation” needed to be dusted off when we heard rumors of it.
But if there’s one thing that’s true about farm kids, it’s that they know how to make their own fun-friends and town are a long way from the farm. Thank God for rural siblings; there was always someone to play with. I remember endless games of, Annie Annie Over, kick-over-the-wire, croquet, catch, and badminton played over a clothesline-which, with a family of nine was usually full of clothes.
Our mother must have loved having some summer afternoons to herself while we dipped ourselves in the copper canner kettles and slurped cold watermelon with reckless abandon. But I also bet she needed those tranquilizers again when we came in covered with mud from playing in the backyard all afternoon in the water, and seeing that her Lilies of the Valley had fallen victim to muddy conditions, childhood antics and young clumsiness.
Sometimes Dad would grab a bat and ball and hit some out for us to catch. How we loved it when he did that. The farm took all of his time.
Fast forward to our own kids, who loved growing up on the farm – even when they had to help load hogs before they got on the bus. When our sons were in second grade, they came home from school one day telling us that kids in their classes said they smelled like pigs.
They spoke those words with grins – they didn’t even care because they loved the work, though I’m sure it took awhile for everyone’s nose hairs to grow back in again. A mother can only do so much to help ensure an adequate showering process between an early morning, hog-loading date, breakfast and the arrival of the school bus. I’m sure the bus driver wondered what went on around here.
I guess that’s how it all starts with farmers. They get the next generation of themselves hooked on the lifestyle, and so they, too, don’t mind if they never see canyons of concrete and steel, as John Denver sings. It doesn’t seem like work to them at such a young age, but more fun than they could imagine-especially with a donut waiting for them at the local convenience store on the way to the hog buying station. Happiness abounds at that point.
With fun like that to look forward to on the farm, what kid really needs a vacation
It’s probably just as well. There’s no time, and it’s less trouble to remove that toenail fungus anyway.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at email@example.com and at www.karenschwaller.com.
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