8 Nature Snapshots

I am privileged to have so many nature trails very close to where I live. This place is my most recent discovery. Paved trails, as well as unpaved trails, follow very close to the creek and provide the nature gazer, like me. with beautiful scenery. I love it.

Just a little way down the path, the greenery thickens.

I just began my walk and I started to see these beautiful little light purple flowers.

And a few more.
They were everywhere. So lovely!

The creek. I love the flow of the creek. It always reminds me of how the Holy Spirit flows in us and through us, providing us with His living water.

Some places like this have no movement. But still it has its own beauty.

It’s always like me to wander off the main path. I’m always looking for new things to see.

On the Farm: Free Time

In previous blogs I talked about my chores and the field work.  But I hope I didn’t give the idea that I was working all the time. The chores were only in the morning and evening, and the field work was mainly during the harvest season. And even then, my dad didn’t always give us jobs to do. Sometimes he got so busy plowing or whatever, that he sort of forgot to give us jobs. So, we just ran off somewhere. And there was plenty of things to do. In fact, my mom didn’t mind at all that we were out playing. She just wanted us home for supper. And if we weren’t home at supper time, believe me she had a loud voice and she would call us home by name for supper—at the top of her lungs.

I think the main fun thing I remember doing is exploring, sometimes by myself and sometimes with my brother Mark. My sister was more of a bookworm and I think she preferred just reading, even if it was in the house. I liked walking along the creek that ran in a large circle around the farm. Sometimes we would see frogs and we would try to spear them with a sharp stick we made. It never bothered us that we were killing them and reducing their population.  We were like fierce hunters.

Some days, when we knew that we had a few hours to kill before we had to be home for supper, we would go deep into the woods until we came to a great river. We didn’t know what river it was, but we knew it wasn’t the creek. It was too wide. I remember the imposing sound of the water. I just loved standing by its banks and feeling its strength and majesty. It gave me the shivers! Another time we encountered a few red-haired cows with long horns. And they were mean looking, so we ran out of there!

Back behind the grainery, which was not too far from the house, there were two old junk cars. One of them was a light cream color with lots of chrome on it. The other car was clearly a Ford model T, all black. We would often see rats crawling in and around the cars…cool! I remember one time we were there with our dog Brownie, and he spotted a squirrel under the cars. I’ll never forget what happened. When the squirrel tried to run away, out from under the car, Brownie, as quick as a flash, caught him between his teeth, and he was dead instantly. I couldn’t be more proud of him. What a great dog. And he was fast. One time we clocked him as he ran along side of our car. I think he got up to about 40 miles per hour!

I don’t know where I got it from, but it seems like I was always doing things to try to prove and challenge my bravery and strength—me more than my brother. Besides spearing frogs, I remember more than once trying to ride our buck sheep. It was kind of silly.

I also liked wrestling with my brother Mark. I liked it mostly, I think, because I knew I would win. Mark didn’t seem to care. I guess he just liked being with me. Now that I think back on it, he had a better spirit than me, a very sweet spirit. All I cared about was winning, being number one, being better than him. That selfish attitude has been with me for years, and now I regret it. I should have treated my brother better and now it’s too late.

On the Farm: The Farmhouse and Surroundings

This is our tractor and barn in the background. I don’t know some of these people, but I think that’s my sister behind the tractor steering wheel. She looks to be about two or three, so that would put me at one, or maybe not even born yet.

My most pleasant childhood memories, up to about age 12, was my life on the farm. As I mentioned in a previous blog, we moved around a lot as a family, so it has been hard to keep all the memories straight in my mind, as far as how long we lived at each place. But the farm near Montevideo, Minnesota was the most memorable to me. And I think we lived there at three different times: from my birth to about age thee (which I don’t remember at all), then from age 7 to 8, and then also at a later time when I was about 11 or 12. In between those times we lived at 3 or 4 different houses. Don’t ask me why. But the farm near Montevideo was by far the best place, the best farm.

The Montevideo farm house and buildings were located in an area where, they say, use to be an Indian camp. If you were to look down from above on the area, you would see the farm house and buildings in the middle, surrounded by a winding creek. Then, beyond the creek, in a larger circle, the elevation steeply rises until it reaches the top, where it levels off into beautiful alfalfa and oat fields.

Actually, the creek only goes three-quarters of the way around, to leave room for the long narrow driveway which went out to the main gravel road. To the right, a little way down the road there is a bridge, under which the creek runs. To the left of the driveway the road sharply ascends and then branches off to the left and right to other nearby farms. (I should explain that none of the buildings, including the house are still there. I’m not sure about the driveway, but I’m pretty sure the creek remains. Yes, the last time I looked at a satellite map the creek was still in the same general area.)

The large, dirty white house was built on a small hill. The area was level in front, but lower in the back. It was a two-story house, but in spite of its size it didn’t have many rooms. The kitchen and dining area were all one room. The rest of the main floor was open with just one small adjoining room, like maybe a pantry or a sewing room.

And there was no bathroom in the house, but we had a three-hole outhouse outside; and in the wintertime we used a large pot with a toilet seat on top. We put Lysol in it to cover the stink. Nobody complained.

We also didn’t have running water. Oh, there was plenty of water, but not in the house. We had to walk down by the barn to get it from an artesian well. Hauling the water was usually my job. For a little guy, it was a big chore, especially since it was a long way to go, about 60 or 70 yards.

The second story of the house was where us kids would sleep. It was a large open area. Okay, I guess it was really the attic. The rafters were showing and nothing was painted; it was all bare wood. I suppose for a country house it was normal. Anyway, in the winter time it was cold up there, with only one small vent to let the warm air come up from below. I remember in the morning, after getting up, we would huddle around that opening to get warm.

The barn (pictured above) was a great place to hang out, especially in the morning when the cows were all in their stanchions, eating hay and being milked. Ah, to see those contented cows gave me a feeling that all was well in the world. Our dog brownie and the cats hung out there too, waiting to get some fresh cow’s milk. Everyone was happy in the barn, and busy. The cows had to be milked and fed; and later, after they went out to pasture, the gutters, full of manure, had to be cleaned out—scooped out and hauled outside. We had nothing fancy. We just wheeled it out the barn door into a wheel barrel and dumped it outside in a big pile. Later we loaded some of it up in a manure spreader and spread it around on the fields. We even used it on the garden—and boy did that work. We had the best watermelons you ever saw—until the pigs got into it. But that’s another story.

As with most farms, we had a silo adjacent to the barn, which we used mostly to store silage. When it was empty, sometimes we climbed up the ladder on the silo, even though we weren’t supposed to. I don’t think any of us ever got all the way up; it was a long way up.

Above the lower part of the barn, where the cows were milked and fed, was the hay loft. It was a great place to play. But I can’t remember playing there much; we had too much work to do—the chores! I will get to that later.

I want to tell you about the other places. Sort of across from the house was a shed we called a grainery, where oats were stored—mounds and mounds of oats.  Sometimes we would jump around in there and get buried up to our waste. And sometimes we would see mice in there, crawling around in the oats. I never liked seeing mice…anywhere, except in a mouse trap.

Between the house and the barn, we planted a large vegetable garden. My dad and mom planted it, and it was my job to pull the weeds. Some days I worked at it for hours. I didn’t mind it too much, but my mom would feel sorry for me. I remember one time she said to me, “Oh, you’re such a good son, you’ll get your reward in heaven.” From that point on I started to think a lot about what heaven might be like. My mom probably wasn’t aware of it, but her words at that moment became a turning point in my life; and in just a few years I would give my life to Christ.

From the garden going toward the creek was a muddy pig pen—where I remember one time my sister jumped in and was coated with black mud from head to foot. I don’t know why she did that. And she was the smart one! Next to the pig pen was the chicken coop with chickens, and then down the hill to the left was a large rickety sheep barn. At one time we had, I think, over 500 sheep.

Well, that’s enough for this post. Next time I will tell you about the chores, mainly my chores.