I’ll bet she already recognizes herself.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my Auntie and Uncle’s farm. Some of my earliest memories are vague, hazy pictures of ‘helping’ on the farm, and of playing there with my two cousins.
I remember that sometimes the cows would be out, and my uncle would patiently wait for me to find some rubber boots and come with him to ‘help’ put those cows back into their pasture.
I remember that there were chickens to tend to, and we kids would be allowed to go and check on the new baby chicks. We were very thorough chicken checkers. I remember my sister (the fertile one) checking baby chicks for hours and hours. We learned that handling them for that long isn’t actually a great idea. The death rate of the baby chicks was a bit high that year….and just to be clear, it was my sister’s fault.
I remember ‘helping’ to butcher those chickens in the fall. It was a family affair. My grandpa would catch the chickens, my grandma would pluck them. I remember a lot of playing around and laughing. It doesn’t really feel like I was all that helpful, but I know that I enjoyed myself. And really, who can say that when they are talking about butchering chickens?
I remember ‘helping’ my uncle to check the cows who were calving. I remember walking in the pen, loving every minute of seeing all of the cute baby calves….when suddenly my uncle picked me up and ran out of the pen with me. There was a shelter or something that he put me in where I would be safe, then turned around and walked back towards the cow, who had apparently just chased me. I was oblivious until I heard him talking to that cow using his ‘French’ words….which I have come to learn are not French words at all.
I remember that their farm was the first place that I got to drive a truck. I had the very important job of driving a truck with a water tank up and down the rows of newly planted trees. I felt very ‘big’ doing that. I probably drowned the trees with overwatering, and drove over half of them, but it kept a cranky, gangly, moody teenager busy, and while I was driving the truck I probably wasn’t complaining about being bored.
I remember that my auntie always had baking on her counter. Always. Without fail. Not only when she knew that people were coming. I have been known to stop in there unannounced and still find baking on the counter. It’s kind of amazing.
There is a very definite parallel between my ‘town kid’ memories of growing up visiting the farm, and the real life that I am now living.
I set out to find my own farmer, and I found a great one! He’s not French like my uncle, but he has been known to use a few French words of his own when the cows chase us. I’m no longer oblivious when this happens though, I’ve learned to be much more aware now that no one can actually pick me up and carry me out of harm’s way.
When our own cows get out and we all rush for the door in a panic, I can appreciate the level of patience it must have taken for my uncle to wait while I finished my supper, found rubber boots, and gradually climbed up into the cab of his truck to ‘help’ him put the cows back in.
I now have my own chickens to tend to; we’ve watered our own trees; and I try to keep baking on my counter, but I am not nearly as good at doing that as my auntie is.
My aunt was not raised on the farm. She lived in town, and had to learn her farming skills when she married my uncle. I am the same. I lived in town, and learned my farming skills as I went along on our own farm…..and I would like to add here that I am a pro……well, maybe not really – but after about 25 years on this farm I can now say that I have experience, and loads of enthusiasm.
One piece of advice that my aunt gave to me is this. “Be careful of what you learn to do.” Right away I knew what she meant, but as a young and eager new farm wife I thought she was just being overly cautious and concerned that I might over work myself…..she should know me better than that.
I now know this piece of advice for the gem that it is. For instance, you do not want to learn how to dump the septic tank on your trailer. I have refused to learn how to run a chainsaw. I wish that I had never learned how to push calves up an alleyway. I wish that I had never learned how to balance our general journal. These are the jobs that nobody likes, and if you learn to do them…guess what…you become the resident expert and everyone will “let” you do it.
When my brother-in-law excitedly told me to jump into the cab of his new semi truck and he would show me how to drive it, I said….”Oh, no thanks. My auntie tells me to be careful of what I learn to do.” My brother-in-law said… “Ya, but don’t be a pain in the ass”… So I learned to drive the semi. But not very well. Definitely not well enough to be asked to do that again.
Now there is need to pass this valuable advice of my auntie’s down to the third generation. My daughter expressed concern the other day. Her concern is that she wants to learn to mow the grass, and everyone thinks she’s too little. Don’t we know that ALL the kids her age are allowed to mow their grass except her? Don’t we know that she’s not a baby anymore?? My aunt’s words of advice were on my lips, when I remembered something important. In one very short year both of her brothers will be living in college dorms, and probably won’t be coming home to mow the lawn.
She learned to mow the grass that day. She’s very excited, and feels very important with her new job. I think that the next time we vaccinate, we might teach her to push calves up the alleyway. And maybe in a year or two, I will show her just how easy it is to balance this general journal.
For now, I will keep my Auntie’s advice for myself……
“Be careful of what you learn to do” – Auntie Noreen P.