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As I listen on my long drive to my grandpa's farm, I begin to hit that little corner that always takes me back in time. I now live in town or the city, but my roots run deep, back in time I go to that little community I once lived in, where I grew up, where I was raised. I then recall a letter that I received from a cousin not long ago. I had asked some questions as to things she remembered from the past, when we were young girls and all that seemed to exist was that farm, in my mind anyways. I thought long and hard about what she had written.
She started by reminding me of all the fun times and memories we had shared. Then she reminded me of a past with hurt but yet things forgotten and let go of. She told me, 'we grew up in a hard life, at times with things around us that we had no control of and no way to survive at the time, yet only we knew how'. She then told me, 'I know why you were so close to all those animals. I know why they were so close to you. They were your family, the one you adopted and the ones who adopted you'.
Sometimes I think one of the most greatest gift a person can give to another human being is the gift of self. One of the people or citizens of a community that need to be applauded is that of the adoptive families. Who desperately want what most have and do not even care for, and they reach out and accept those that others were unable to, which I respect, but then there are those who do not want the children they have and this is true. So these loving and patient people await for the gifts from God that were meant for them, but were given through someone else, and they do so with an open and true heart, and can genuinely look past themselves and adopt one from another. I think they deserve so much for their efforts but then again with patience they already have what they sought.
So back to my animals. Living on a farm isn't easy not if you are an animal lover. It is hard work all the way around and I honestly miss that life, that time. I reflect on mornings spent in gardens that sustained us through every season, we weren't ones who went to town every day or week, it was once in a lifetime experiences for us and we rarely had that luxury. We lived off the land and we appreciated that and we respected what God and hard work gave us. It was hard work. We did live off the land. We lived by our own hands and sweat. It was the best times of my life and I wouldn't have traded one day for any of the riches in the lives we now lead.
I guess I am a simple girl, with old traditions, and a little old fashioned. I live in a world of convenience but wish for the old. I look at the lives of others around me who came from the same place, and when we talk it brings each of us back to another time and place where we felt at peace with each other and with the world. It was never a dull moment. People came to visit and would stay for weeks and we were glad for the company, everyone chipped in and the stories are what we longed to hear not the radio or TV. It was the communication between distant families and generations. I miss that. I was the oldest out of the grand kids, except my two step- sisters, but I was the oldest from that line. I was quite a bit older than cousins and my brother, and yes the majority of my time was spent with the animals of the farm. We had cats, dogs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, a horse at one time, but some of my fondest memories were those spent with my grandpa's herd of cattle.
This is so funny because one of my friends also grew up on a farm with cattle, and one day we laughed for hours over the many memories we had in regards to farm life. My grandpa would always take me with him out in the pastures and up in the fields and woods, checking on fences, checking on the cattle, especially when they were due to calve. I even told my son just the other night how I was forbidden to go in those fields alone because of the bulls but mainly the herd bull, and anyone who knows farm life will know how dangerous they can be. But I never listened I was always in those fields and I remember sitting at school day-dreaming about what path I needed to take as soon as I got home to find them. As soon as my feet hit that dirt road, I was on my way, running, to get home to drop off my books, grab a sandwich, and head out the door with my grandma yelling, 'you better not go up in that field again'. And I would be gone on one path to the next, my grandpa owned a lot of property, till I found the herd.
Now what was so great about a bunch of cattle that just stood around and did nothing? For one it wasn't me just hanging out with cows, it was me watching them , studying them and the family structure they created. I became an excellent tracker not of just cattle but of wildlife and simply animals period. I would track cats to find their kittens, because they are so good at hiding them. I would track the cattle to their calves. Which they would hide as deer will hide their fawns in bushes or shrubs. My grandpa would have approximately 20-30 cattle at a time, sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on the time of year. This was my time spent, Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer.
I lived to be with those cows. They looked at me and seemed to just accept the fact that I was an odd calf or just a crazy person to be over- looked. The bull never bothered me and at times I felt he even looked out for me. As many studies have been done on the family structure of animals, I guess maybe that was my own study. They were very in tune to one another. They were very protective of not just their calves, but of that of the entire herd. They had sitters for their babies usually younger cows who seemed to play and dote on the young ones, the bull was the protector by far, the older cows would sometimes take in orphans or try to take over the young of the other cows, there was a pecking order and it was intact always.
I am not sure where I fit in, but I do know I did, and I was never afraid and I always had fun. It was an unspoken language between us, they trusted me and I needed them. It helped me to escape, it helped me to forget my problems and being a child you need that. I would come home around dark, get my ass whipped, and continue on the next day. It was always the same. One of the worst days for me was when my grandpa decided he could no longer care for them and they were slaughtered and sold, and the days that came to pass were to horrific for me, to this day, to talk about, and I won't, but just let me say farm life is tough and it was a life learning experience for me and taught me a lot about many things.
One of my favorite places to go was on top of hill where the trees spread out, and it was like a tent or canopy, one tree struck by lightening lay flat in- between two others that were still standing, it was hollow and cut out, I would take a blanket and lay in that tree under the canopy with the cows laying and snoozing not far way, my dogs sitting by the tree watching my every move, and me falling asleep feeling 100 % safe and right in the world.
I hit that corner I take in the smell of the air and the smell of fresh cut hay, I listen to the breeze and the birds and I feel the sun shining on my face through the open window. I turn off the radio and take it all in. I start down that dirt road I walked so many years ago, I round a bend and see the old farm house and look past it to the fields. I miss those days and what they represented to me over and over. I return to years past, the things you learn from cows, the things your learn from nature, and the things you miss when it is gone. Thanks for listening! God Bless You!
To Dakota: I love you.
To God and Jesus: Thank you!
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