Farm/rural stories

Oh, yeah. The lot across the street from us was where the owners of the town’s lumber company lived. They had a horse, maybe two, on their property. My sisters liked to ride their mare and I may have been on her once or twice myself.

The wooded area across the street is also where my siblings built a tree fort, with the owners’ permission.

We had that in ours. The rope was attached to the trolley that ran the length of the barn. In those days of yore before electricity and elevators, the hay was loaded onto a platform, hoisted into the barn, and trolleyed to the right spot. We never used the trolley, but it was still there.

I liked to swing, tarzan-like, across the barn. My mom told me not to, but did I listen? One time, I’d just started a swing, when I suddenly was standing. I was puzzled, wondering why I wasn’t going anywhere when WHAM the cast iron trolley landed about 5 feet away! Put a hole in the floor. Lucky it didn’t split my skull. Took me years to appreciate that I could have been killed that day, very easily.

Gee, sometime parents ARE smarter than kids!

You could just sell one of your planes. That should be enough for a farm.

My aunt and cousins had a farm. They once had a very smart horse that could do various tricks, mostly taught to him by his previous owner. Give him an open bottle of soda and he would take it in his mouth and throw his head back and guzzle it down. He seemed to like Dr. Pepper best. He could open gates with his nose. One day, the family came home to find the horse in their kitchen, having opened the pasture gate and then opened the sliding door on the back patio to enter the house. A bunch of goats had followed him inside and were standing around on the living room furniture.

You reminded me…we used to have milk goats. Very smart creatures! There is a photo in the family archives of Jessica the (Toggenberg) goat in the family kitchen nuzzling my youngest brother when he was just a wee baby. She heard him crying and forced her way into the house to make sure he was OK.

We also at that same place had neighbors who had numerous pigs. Something happened to the fence containing the pigs and one of them made its way into the house. I recall our whole family trying to encourage a 400 lb pig into making a u-turn in a small, crowded room and leaving the house.

Good times!

We used to go to the discount bread store and buy stale bread to feed the pigs. We’d go and buy a truck load of outdated bread and back it up to the fence. Then we’d climb up in the back of the truck and unwrap all the bread and throw it in to the pigs.

The pigs liked bread but what they really loved were sweets. They learned to recognize when we were opening a box of something like donuts or twinkies and they’d all start piling on top of each other to catch them when we’d start throwing them in.

Goats: there was one farmer who used the woods he was paid by the government to keep out of cultivation to raise foxes. An unwalled shed with rows of cages, each one holding a doomed, stinky, nasty fox. He couldn’t guard it with a dog, so he kept a large billy goat. If the farmer needed to use both hands, he’d take a three-strand logging chain and fling it around the goat’s neck like some medieval war maneuver to tether it. If he had a quick chore, he’d just grab one horn and walk around with the goat’s head held against his hip so it wouldn’t butt him.

Q for you dairy farmers: did you use anything besides “come boss!” to call the cows?

I wish I had a plane to sell.

Thank you for your kind thought.

That’s hilarious!

My dad grew up on a farm. One time they had a horse that was so old they had to put it down. They dug a hole next to the horse’s body and pushed him in. Only the hole wasn’t quite deep enough, the horse landed on his back and his legs were sticking out of the hole. Rigor mortis had set in and they couldn’t bend the legs, so they just sawed them off and threw them onto the rest of the horse.

A farm I used to play at often had a runt baby lamb in a box behind the cook stove. Cook stoves used wood or coal for fuel and had to be kept away from the wall behind them for obvious reasons. When I would come to play the mom would make special Norwegian cookies, krumkaka, for us.

They raised dairy cows and drank their own milk unpasteurized. Mom had told me not to drink it. And at meal time there’d always be a lot of pressure by the family to taste the “real” milk. Put me on the spot.

It must have been safe as nobody died from it.

At the edge of their property was the highest, longest sliding hill around and we used to toboggan on it. In those days I don’t think there was such a thing as women’s insulated underwear and I used to wear a pair of my dad’s under my pants.

My friend’s little brother got up in the morning and found them drying on the radiator and danced all around the house with them in front of the older brothers singing out, “Kite’s underwear! Kite’s underwear!” Rotten little kid.

He still lives there and raises buffalo on the farm. It’s all I can think of when I see him all these nearly sixty years later.

chacoguy: Yeah, a farm is not a helicopter parent’s dominion by any stretch.

Playing tag on the farm was a favorite pass time, but there were so many great hiding places, and the distances were so long, that we almost gave up the game entirely; until the introduction of rubber BBs. After that, everybody was “it” and we all just ran around shooting each other, screaming like hellions. If you were far enough away, and tough enough to fake it, you could pretend you hadn’t been hit and continue to play. Many a time I refused to put on shorts on a hot day, because if the other kids saw all my bruises and welts they would know how much cheating I’d done. I was often praised for being such a “modest” girl.

Good times.

Weird eggs were always an amusement. For a while there we had a set of black hens that gave eggs with a greenish tint. Once we got a super huge one, and when we broke it open there was a regular egg inside. When Great Aunt Sarah made Hen Soup, there would always be varying sizes of eggs floating around in it, and the kids would compete to see who got the smallest one. Trigger a whole afternoon of “I Won” “No you didn’t, that was just a speck of carrot.”

You haven’t learned to hate until you’ve spent an entire Summer being forced to walk the long way round the barnyard by a vicious rooster.

You haven’t learned to fear until you’ve seen what pigs can do to the bones of any beef that comes their way.

Our family’s farms were in Southern Georgia, and so the Summers were incredibly hot and muggy. Every day we’d come out of the swimming hole, pick off the leeches, and swear we would never get in that horror again. Next day by about 1:00pm we were hot enough to jump right in again. Picking off leeches was just the price you had to pay.

That just goats to show you what can happen, Billy.

Try castrating pigs! I was helping my neighbor de-nut his male piglets in a shed with a low roof. We were almost done when Mama Pig, who had been bashing the closed gate the entire time, suddenly broke through! 600lbs of angry pig, moving fast. Somehow I jumped over the interior gate without bashing my head on the roof, still not sure how I did that.

And yes, the dogs enjoyed the snacks that day, too.

I worked at my great-uncle’s dairy farm as a teenager, and he also reloaded his own ammunition. My cousin was a couple years older than me, and let me tell you that two teenage boys with access to gunpowder, oxy-acetylene torches, and strike-anywhere matches can create some impressive explosions.

I would hang a picture of that scene in my living room.

My grandpa had a farm of about 10 acres. He raised a couple of cows a year to butcher and when we were kids he’d let us ride on them sometimes.

Once a cousin came in from out of state to visit and he was afraid of the cows. My grandpa also had several pear trees and we’d cut em up and give to the cows so we gave a chunk to my cousin to give to a cow to show him that the cows were friendly and as the cow sauntered over and got close to my cousin he got scared and ran and fell into a cow pie.

My dad grew up on a farm and his grandparents lived on a different farm across town. The phone lines were all party lines and the town was tiny. He was probably 3 or 4 when he wanted to talk to his grandma and so he picked up the phone and talked to the operator.

He told the operator, “I want to talk to my grandma.”

Since it was such a small town, the operator knew his voice and knew his grandma and she rung her number.

Grandma didn’t answer though.

The operator said “She’s not picking up the phone. She’s probably out in the henhouse.”

My dad asked, “Which one?”

Huh, I grew up in Central WI and can remember big, Army green planes flying low over the house once in a while.

When my father was very little, his family went to visit some relatives on a farm. At one point, they noticed my dad was missing. They found him in the cow pasture, sharing the salt lick with some cows.

When my husband (Andy L) was helping his uncle on the uncle’s farm, he fell out of the barn. My uncle ran over to him in a panic, terrified that he was badly injured. Frantically, he yelled, “Get back to work!” Which he did.

(I may have told the next two before.) When my aunt was young (6 or 7?), she was playing outside when her father and a hired man were using a crowbar to pull down an old farm building. They went into the house. When they returned, they found my aunt had torn down a good part of the outhouse. Proudly, she declared, “I’m wrecking it, Daddy!”

My in-laws used to have a peacock. One day, it flew out of its pen. (They didn’t know peacocks can fly.)

A woman down the road found the peacock in her garage. “Husband, there’s a peacock in our garage.” He laughed at her. She called the police. They laughed at her. She called the game commission. “Ma’am, that’s a pheasant, not a peacock.” Well, she knew the difference. Then she called the owner of the local gas station, who knew everybody’s business. “Oh, you must have the L’s peacock!” My in-laws picked it up.

When my grandmother was a girl(she as born in 1904) there was a major scandal in their community.

Another farmer had a daughter(don’t laugh, this was a real story), and the daughter, who was called in the terms of the day “simple” was seduced by a salesperson traveling through. The father of the girl shot and killed him. The jury of his peers acquitted him, but he lost the farm to his lawyer because of high legal fees.

Grandma never told me the names of the people involved, because she said a couple of people who’d been involved were still alive.

I was born and raised in New York City, so I have almost no farm experience myself.

My grandparents, however, grew up on farms in Ireland, and told a lot of farm-related stories. Not surprisngly, a lot of those stories involved excrement!

I’ve never seen my ancestral home in Westmeath, but I was told that, unlike most Irish farmhouses, it actually had a porch. The family had a dog whose job was to round up sheep and cattle, but who mostly lazed on the porch the rest of the time.

This dog had acres of land on which it could safely poop, but he often chose to do his business on the porch. When he did, my great-grandfather (whom I never met) would grab the dog by the neck, shove his nose in the poop, and then drop-kick the dog off the porch.

This must have happened a LOT, because the dog became conditioned, in the BF SKinner sense.

One day, my great-grandfather came out of the house, saw the dog sitting by a fresh, steaming pile of poop. Knowing what was coming next, the dog ran to the poop, stuck his own nose in it, and jumped off the porch.