Thursday, June 21, 2007

Farm Kids

Playing around the Lazy B with GBN1 reminded me of my younger days when my parents would send me and my brother, Craig, to stay with our Aunt Mildred and Uncle Jack in Chillicothe, TX. Actually, this is our great aunt and uncle, but Aunt Mildred was only seven years older than my mom so they were very close. Uncle Jack had been a Seabee in WWII - he could build anything. When he came home from the war, he bought up some farm land around Chillicothe and Farmer’s Valley. His dad and brothers also bought up land making the Phillip’s name well known in the area. Uncle Jack was a very simple man and probably the best farmer in the area. He and Aunt Mildred lived in a small house in Farmer’s Valley which Uncle J made comfy with his building skills. Still, it was like living in a sand pit. Craig and I loved going to their farm. We did all the things farm kids do. We played on the cellar and slid down the metal door. We followed the barn cats until we found where they were hiding their kittens. I can’t tell you all of the places (old sheds and barns) we crawled looking for those cats. We helped Aunt M work in the garden (I’m sure we were helpful as any two little kids can be). Aunt M had a box of toys for us to play with although her own boys were grown, and she did not have grandkids yet. We played in the sand around their house under the shade of the big trees. Uncle Jack would take us for rides on the tractor. Yep, it was one of those open air tractors with a bonnet (umbrella) that would cause people today to freak-out knowing two little kids stood up there while Uncle J plowed his fields. I remember standing in the back of a wheat truck late at night while the combines cut the wheat and came around to pour their wheat into the truck. I remember watching Uncle J with his tractor and plow turn up the sand between the rows of cotton to keep the sand from blowing away to the next county. I also remember Aunt M driving down the dirt road beside Uncle J’s tractor and passing us kids through the car window and onto the tractor - how is that for safety? Yet, I know that neither Aunt M or Uncle J would ever have done anything to harm us - it was just the way farm kids grew up. In the winter time they would take us to feed their cattle on their Red River farm. Craig and I both remember them letting us slide on a frozen pond - they even pulled us around as if we had ice skates. My Great-uncle Elbert often came, too and brought his little dog - he was a great big gentle, man with a tiny little dog that he carried everywhere. It was always fun to visit the farm.

Uncle J and Aunt M eventually built a nice house in town. They had a huge garden that was their yard supplying friends and neighbors with all sorts of produce. Uncle J still farmed, but they had more time to go fishing which was his passion. When I was about 12 years old, I went and stayed at their house in town while Aunt M taught me to sew Barbie clothes. I remember sketching a farm picture while I was there and working in the garden, but it was probably the last time I went to stay with them. By this time, Aunt M had her own grandkids so I was a little less important, but still loved. After I was married, Toby loved going to see my uncle and aunt also. He especially liked Uncle J who took him out to show him the farm riding on two small motorcycles that Uncle J had bought.

Later when Bo was barely four and Jes was just one, we went to see Uncle J and Aunt M. By this time, oil had been found on their land and they were quite wealthy. You would never know it, because nothing really changed around their house or their way of life. Uncle J had to buy a huge new tractor to spend some money and not have to pay so much tax. He was pretty proud of that big tractor with the air-conditioned cab. We took Bo and Jes out to the farm where he was plowing. Of course, he offered to take them in his tractor. Bo bailed out of the car without hesitation. Jes, who was a bit finicky about going to a man - any man other than her daddy, took one look at that tractor and leaped into Uncle J’s arms right about the time I said, “I don’t think she will go with you, Uncle J.” He just laughed and carried her off in his arm, holding Bo’s hand as they walked to the tractor. I can still see them standing up in the cab with Uncle J, grinning from ear to ear. After a few rounds in the field, we had to peel the kids out of the tractor because they did not want to stop.

There is just something wonderful about farms. The horses, cows, dogs, cats, chickens, geese, and farm equipment seem magical to a kid. There is so much to explore. Maybe it is the freedom of playing outside where no one will harm you. GBN1 loves to come to “Booboo and Crew-craw’s house”. She hits the ground running and gets plenty dirty in a matter of minutes. For a long time she would hold her arms across her chest so that no one would hold her hand. Then she realized no one was trying to hold her hand - she was free to run and play. The other day, she chased down the kitten until she caught it. She chased the goose off the patio, and laughed when it chased her back. She played in the sand, looked for the horses, waved at the neighbor's cows, rode on the little tractor, and swung from the swing on the clothesline. She is a third generation farm kid.

1 comment:

the friendly neighborhood piper said...

Now THAT reminds me of my Grandma and Granpa's farm up in Kay County. Funny, i did the same stuff! Such is the magic of farm life quickly vanishing, if not all but so.