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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Dec 11, 2015

One thought led to another while I was watching the three wild turkeys for which I daily feed with bird seed. They are a hen and two chicks from last spring. The young ones are nearly full grown now.

When they eat, the hen always seems to be on the lookout. She is the last to eat and first to leave.

She has the appearance of being in fear of impending doom. She is always gazing at her surroundings and seems very ill at ease.

If it is possible for a turkey to look worried, she does. She must be a pessimist.

That made me think of someone I hadn’t thought of in years, my grandmother’s sister, Gena.

Gena was old when I was in the single digits of age. She never married and had a great resemblance to the woman in Grant Wood’s painting, American Gothic.

Aunt Gena was constantly worried about almost everything. There was no possibility of a happy ending.

She lived with my widowed grandmother and my dad’s two unmarried and never married brothers, all in the same house on the home farm.

My dad’s brothers devoted themselves to farming and nothing else.

They had several hundred head of feeder cattle, farrowed and finished hogs, plus tried to farm around 900 acres in the days of four row equipment.

They were always behind in their work. They worked seven days a week and usually after sunset because they needed the additional time.

It seemed they liked being big for the sake of being big. My dad did not approve of their approach to farming.

Because they worked late all the time, meals were almost haphazard, even noon meals which could be served at noon or 1:00 or 2:00, whenever they showed up.

The same thing went for supper which meant eating at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, or later.

I believe there were a lot of meals served at 7 or 8 p.m.

My grandmother would have the meals ready at noon and at 6 p.m. for “the boys” as she called them.

When they didn’t show up, the food was kept warm until they showed up.

Communication was not a strong suit, either.

One summer night they were working particularly late and at 10:30 p.m., they still hadn’t shown up for supper.

My grandmother and Aunt Gena decided it was time for go look for them.

Their farms were scattered several miles apart so they needed to drive to search for them.

I never saw my Aunt Gena drive and I don’t believe she knew how.

When they got in the car, my grandmother drove and Aunt Gena rode beside her in the front seat.

As they left the farmstead and drove down the gravel road searching for my uncles, Aunt Gena had an idea for the two women to help look for them.

“You look in one ditch and I’ll look in the other,” said Aunt Gena.

Now that is a pessimist.

Of course, they found the missing brothers and they were still working.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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