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Down on the farm (02/12/2012)
From: Mary Zimmerman


Come on, letís go for a long ride. Allow me to take you back so many years ago.

I specifically remember mourning and praying for my 8-year-old brother Melvin as he was dying at home from pneumonia. I remember crying later at my one room country school (all 8 grades). I missed his companionship for the many years that followed as we were close in age, plus I never had any sisters. I grew up feeling so alone in life. Thank goodness now for my four daughters and two sons.

I remember my parents going through some lean years but my Dad being a hard working farmer (with horses). I donít ever remember going hungry, but why would we? We had an abundance of our own groceries, our own milk, cream, butter, buttermilk, vegetables and a lot of our meat.

I would at times go out into the pasture and gather up the cows, sometimes cow pies as well, to burn for warmth. Most likely the family dog would go with, to do his part, hopefully without spooking them too bad, then would coax the cows into the barn, each into a stall. In the summer you usually needed to do a little spraying for flies unless you wanted to be switched in the face with the cowís tail repeatedly and maybe use some bad words. Then you had the kickers. I think my Mom milked those. Also you couldnít ignore the cats (we always had a lot of those) meowing for some nice warm fresh milk. Then came our daily exercise (perhaps equivalent to the YMCA) carrying the milk to a separator room close to the house where youíd pour the milk through a clean towel called a strainer. I guess to catch the big germs, maybe flies and the like. Then start turning a handle and miraculously cream came out of one spout and skim milk the other to be again carried toward the barn as a treat for the pigs, then in time the pigs a treat for us. However I do have great respect for pigs. A certain pig somewhere gave his life (heart valve) that I may have a better one. The cream carefully taken into the outside basement (oh, watch out for the lizards on your way down), put into cream cans to later be taken to town to sell, leaving some out as needed to turn sour to be churned into butter. Using a crock-type container youíd chup up and down with two crisscross pieces of wood on a handle until you saw a thick yellow substance appear. That was butter, the remaining was buttermilk, later made into delicious pancakes. I forgot to mention feeding the baby calves with a bottle, such fun.

Besides chickens we had turkeys and ducks. Gathering eggs was quite an experience. The chicken house itself was pretty unique. There were boards secured across the room so they could roost at night. Nests were made up for them to lay eggs. Once in a while youíd find a hen that wanted more privacy. She would go off someplace to lay a nest of eggs, then taking out about two weeks of her time to sit on the eggs and miraculously bringing forth new life. Ah, baby chicks. So cute, soft and furry. Ladies aprons in those days had multiple uses. One was to transport those chicks to their new home called the brooder house where they were given a mother to care for them.

My Mom did quite a lot of shocking grain. I did some too. My Dad hired (I think 50Ę an hour) a couple nice neighbor boys to help as well so that took some of the string out of my labor. I also got to drive the car ahead (Model A, I believe) as we went down the field. So I did learn to drive (well sorta). As long as you were a certain age you could just go to the courthouse and get a license. Eventually one had to study up a bit and drive a cop around the block. Now you know why I shied away from driving when we moved to Minnesota. In South Dakota I did fine in the smaller towns and rural areas. I attempted Aberdeen a couple times but it was obvious to me and others I really didnít know how to drive. I guess thatís one reason we have guardian angels, right?

Going to church was our top priority. The bad roads were our worst deterrent. At times we would go way around miles farther to find roads that would get us to Mass. If the roads were all blocked from heavy snow we just couldnít make it, but Ma never forgot to gather us together for special prayer. The daily family rosary was our ritual as well...on our knees. I carried on that tradition into my own family. After awhile we drifted away from this beautiful practice which quickly came back after Duaneís death. I realized we all needed some divine assistance (grace) if we were going to move on with life.

Where is my prayer life today? I can say for sure God is in my every day, sustaining, guiding, counseling, loving me. In return I am loving Him too, praying every day for His blessings, graces and mercies upon my family, myself, and the whole world. Jesus I trust in you.

I guess I can say I went from farmerís daughter to a farmerís wife when I married an ambitious young man from Minnesota.

PSS. Eli (my latest grandson) has gained about 3 lbs. He wanted to take over big brotherís room but Conner said no, so Eli is quite comfortable for now sleeping close to Ma and Dad, knowing they will quickly hear him as he says Iím hungry, which is quite often. 


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