I grew up on the farm I wrote about in my upcoming novel, In a Grove of Maples. From the 1890’s, during the decades I grew up in, and the current time a lot has changed but yet a few things remain the same. The basic structure of the log cabin stands at the heart of the framed house built around it. The bare logs can still be seen when entering the house. My brother told me that logs were from trees that had toppled and burned in the Peshtigo fire.
The old outhouse squats in the same place, and the red hand water pump rises from the same spot. The barn my grandfather built to replace the log barn in the early 1900’s still stands, and over the years my dad had kept it in good repair. Now, my nephew, who owns the farm does. The spring north of the barn still trickles forth and sometimes floods the fields around that area.
Other things have changed or grown. Trees grew while others died. Buildings were erected and taken down. Family has come and gone, but the farm will always have that hard-working, midwestern family legacy of my grandparents, tying me and my family together through the decades.
Some of my best memories include doing the everyday chores on the farm, helping with milking, bedding or feeding, the small dairy herd of forty cows, haying, gardening, cooking, and even the dreaded task of picking rock. Though I was only nine-years-old when my dad retired, I have a lot of memories of the working farm. Even after Dad sold the cows and some of the machinery, he still planted a huge garden and cut wood for our wood stove. There was always some task to help with.
Most of all I remember the simple things…
The soothing smell of fresh cut hay. The mooing of the cows. The warmth and snug feeling of tucking my head against a cow’s flank to attach the milker’s or wash theirs utters. The large family breakfasts with everything from a platter of sliced tomatoes and green onions to potatoes chopped and fried in a cast iron skillet. The slap of the screen door. The hollyhocks by the side of the house that had been there since my grandma had planted them, nearly a hundred years ago. The cold refreshing taste of water pumped by hand from a spring-fed well. The nutty fragrance of fresh-ground wheat. My mother’s hands kneading bread dough. My father’s hands crafting something out of wood or leaning on the end of a garden hoe, hankie dangling from his jean’s back pocket, And so many other things.
Question: Have you ever lived on a farm? Visited a farm? Tell me about it.
In a Grove of Maples releases July 1st. Join me for the release party in my Facebook Group, Journeying with Jenny. I’ll also have numerous giveaways going on all my social media outlets.
Thanks for reading! J