but you can’t take the country out of the girl!
So I was doing my morning blog rounds a little bit ago and I found an interesting blog by Heidi, my cousin Sam’s best friend. She was talking about the differences between her upbringing and her husband’s. She, more so than me, was raised a “country girl”. Her husband, much like Rob, was raised a “city boy”. (Only her husband lived in a bigger city than Rob.) She makes note of all the things that she figured everyone grew up experiencing. And it got me thinking along the same lines.
Okay, so I technically grew up in a city. Granted, not a large city but a city nonetheless. However, I am a county girl at heart. (Although over the years my affection for dirt and bugs has waned.) My parents lived in the city. My Granny lived on a farm. She and my Po-Po (a name I gave him as a toddler, don’t ask me why because I don’t know) lived on the farm. They worked the farm. They made their living from the farm. So farm life has always been a huge part of my life.
So here are the things I grew up doing that I thought most people experienced…
- Riding tractors.
- Spending the 3rd week of August every year setting up a booth in some part of the county fair/Helping prepare for 4-H competitions.
- Picking all the fattest blueberries I could carry and taking them home.
- Herding cattle back into the fenced area because they had escaped (again).
- Caring for cattle/pigs (tagging ears and transporting sold animals).
- Getting up with the sun to be at the county fair the moment it opened.
- Staying at the fair until after it had closed.
- Running around the fair grounds with the grandkids etc of my Granny’s friends.
- Going to flea markets to sell goods not buy them.
- Living in a Civil War era home.
- Watching coal come flying down the coal shoot so we could heat the house in the winter.
- Pet a sheep, pig or holding a rabbit.
- Ridden a hayride.
- Eaten homemade ice cream.
- Been to a county fair.
(The last four are the one’s Heidi makes mention of in her blog.)
I feel like I should explain some of the things on my list. Simply because some of you may not have experienced them so you may not realize the finer points of those experiences.
Riding tractors: My parents used to flat out beg and order my Granny not to allow me on the tractors. They were terrified something would happen to me. As a child, I didn’t understand this fear. As a mother, I totally get it. That being said, I’m so happy that my Granny ignored them and allowed me to have this experience. There is nothing quite like riding a tractor. Being that high on a machine that large…you’re effectively cut off from the entire world. It’s just you, the tractor and the work that needs to be done. For me, there was always something very relaxing about that.
Spending the 3rd week of August every year setting up a booth in some part of the county fair/Helping prepare for 4-H competitions: When I was younger (Gavin and Elliott’s ages) it was a 4-H booth. My aunt was involved in 4-H and my Granny was one of the leaders of her group. So when it came time for the fair, we would have to set up their area with their animals and projects. Part of the fun etc of 4-H is in the presentation. So we always took a lot of time to make sure everything looked great and was as comfortable as possible for the 4-H’ers. Then when I was older it was a booth that my Granny sold her crafts in. I admit when I was in middle school and junior high, this booth embarrassed me a little bit. No one else had family selling wares in the fair. So that made it different and I hadn’t quite come to embrace all that is wonderful about being unique. But that week spent helping her set up; I loved that week. It was just her and I. It’s actually one of the things I miss most now that she’s gone.
Picking all the fattest blueberries I could carry and taking them home: Every spring/summer we would go to the neighbor’s house and pick as many as we could carry. We didn’t have to pay because we were neighbors and that’s what neighbors did…share. I love it! It was so amazing to just go and pick every berry that caught my eye. Of course, the fattest and juicies berries usually never made it any farther than my mouth. lol My Granny also had a grape vine on her farm. So at any given moment I could run out and grab some grapes off the vine. It was an experience I wish my boys could have because it honestly just doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Caring for cattle/pigs: Tagging ears and transporting sold animals. Herding cattle back into the fenced area because they had escaped (again). Feeding them. Cleaning up after them. Hauling bailed hay to where it needed to be (for bedding, feed etc.). Repairing the fences. Making sure the babies are being cared for. These tasks were by far my least favorite part of being a country girl but they needed to be done. And since I was raised helping with them, it just seems second nature to me that everyone has done them at some point.
Getting up with the sun to be at the county fair the moment it opened/Staying at the fair until after it had closed/Running around the fair grounds with the grandkids etc of my Granny’s friends: As I got older I slept in a little more and of course had to go to school but whenever possible, I stayed at the fair all day, everyday. The county fair was as much a part of summer as not having school. It didn’t matter how many times I roamed the fair grounds, there was always a booth I hadn’t noticed with some freebie treasure to be collected. There were foods I hadn’t tried. And foods I loved and wanted to eat again. I knew all the “shortcuts”, which were basically hallways the public couldn’t use but we could because we were “fair kids”. I knew the good games to play. The one’s to avoid. Which vendor had the best fries and where you wanted to go for the best “real” food. I knew what time the marching bands were playing and when the Demolition Derby was. The County Fair was a world unto itself; with it’s own secrets and treasures.
After my Granny died in 2002, I couldn’t bring myself to return to the fair. I couldn’t stand to see her booth with someone else sitting there. I went back August of 2005, I was pregnant with Elliott Richard and I didn’t want to be carrying around so much hurt and fear when he was born. Now I can’t wait to go back. I’m hoping that Tiny makes it full term so we aren’t under “contact isolation” and we can all go this summer.
Going to flea markets to sell goods not buy them: For most people you mention Flea Markets and they immediately begin to think of all the deals to be had. When I was a kid, if you said “Kidron Flea Market” to me I knew that meant a few different things. First, I was spending the night at my Granny’s farm. Second, we were getting up with the sun. Third, we’d swing through McDonald’s for breakfast and “coffee”. (She had actual coffee. I had hot chocolate.) And finally, I would spend the day camped out in a booth or in the car while Granny sold cattle or pigs etc. I usually came home with a treasure or two of my own. Once it was a 6 week old pure bred Australian Sheppard puppy. (She didn’t last very long since my little brother was also 6 weeks old and my mother was already sleep deprived without the puppy.) Another time it was an antique makeup compact. I still have that somewhere. The flew market was always an all day trip and always an adventure.
Living in a Civil War era home/Watching coal come flying down the coal shoot so we could heat the house in the winter: The farm was my home away from home. I loved the fact that it was old. I loved the Under Ground Railroad hiding spots. I loved the land. I knew growing
up that nearly everyone lived in newer homes but I couldn’t imagine not having grown up in a house that old. It was second nature for me to run downstairs to the basement when the coal shipments came. Or to run through the house because nearly every room had two doorways. I learned to roller skate in the kitchen. The curtain that we pulled to cut off the stairway from the hallway always terrified me for reasons I still don’t understand. And when I was really little I thought everyone used coal to heat their homes. I didn’t realize there were other options available. (lol)
Pet a sheep, pig or holding a rabbit/Witnessing a litter of puppies or kittens being born: I can’t imagine growing up and never having pet a sheep, pig or holding a rabbit. How do you not experience these things? How do you have pets and not witness the miracle of birth? It amazed me a few years ago when Rob’s parents’ dogs had puppies because Mom and Dad G let the kids stay home from school to witness it. Was I really the only one it was common place for? Craziness.
Ridden a hayride: Every year my Granny and Po-Po would have a big…I don’t know what it was exactly. I know that people I didn’t know would come out to the farm. Po-Po would take them on a hay ride around the farm. Granny would cook corn that we had grown. And I would run around with my dogs and cats killing time until I could eat. I still don’t know what the purpose of those days was, however, I loved them. It meant fresh corn and hay rides and everything fun about summer turning to fall.
Eaten homemade ice cream: There is a tiny little barn at the county fair where they milk the cows and turn the milk into homemade ice cream. It’s delicious! I guess I’d always figured that everyone went to the county fair so everyone had tried the homemade ice cream too.
Been to a county fair: And again, never been to the county fair?! What insanity is this? I practically grew up at the county fair. I told my Granny that Gavin was a boy at the county fair. I had more sugar-highs from fair food than I can count or remember.
This blog started as a list and realization of the differences in up-bringings (is that even a word? lol) and it morphed into a Memorial of sorts to my Granny. Mother’s Day, May 11th, was the 6th anniversary of her death. I can’t believe I didn’t mention it then. I feel like I should have posted something then, however, this feels “right”. What better way to post a Memorial than to share all the experiences I was lucky enough to have because of her. So this post is for my Granny.
72 down ~ 63 to go