Jane Green: Monkey see, monkey do

Jane Green Special to the Farm Forum
Farm Forum

Hubby and I went for a long drive the other day. We were checking the crops, enjoying the warm sunshine, and appreciating the beautiful countryside. Well, one mile led to another and before we knew it, we had traveled back to my old stomping grounds. My, oh my, things had certainly changed at the farm of my youth.

All of the old farm buildings were gone, but a great deal of new construction had taken its place. Beautiful family homes with many out buildings filled the area. It appeared that another generation of children was being raised at the old farm site and enjoying country life. Wonderful!

And along with all the new construction, I was thrilled to see that two items of my youth were still in place: the big cottonwood tree and the old windmill. Time had definitely taken its toll on them, but they still marked the spot that was so dear to my heart. Call me an old softie, but just looking at the windmill and the tree brought back some great memories. And the story goes like this…

The old windmill story

The first story that comes to my mind is the one about the old windmill. By closing my eyes and reminiscing for a moment, I can hear my mother’s voice relating this scary saga. Each time she told the tale; her voice would become softer and would tremble slightly. In fact, her whole demeanor would change, and rightly so, due to the gravity of this story.

The time period was the early 1940’s. My parents had recently purchased this farm place north of Watertown. It did not matter to them that the large red barn, the two-story farm house and the other outbuildings were sorely in need of repair. On the contrary, they were thrilled to have a place of their own to raise their two little daughters; namely, six-year-old Wanda and four-year-old Lou Ann.

Along with being the owners of the farmstead buildings, they were also the proud owners of a very tall, sturdy, working windmill. It was conveniently located close to the big red barn and produced a plentiful supply of water for their livestock. It was, without a doubt, one of the reasons they chose this farm place to buy.

Yes, indeed, they were thrilled with this wind-powered source of water. No longer would they have to haul water for their critters; instead, all my parents had to do was put the windmill in gear, and whoosh — here came the water. Life was good! Or, was it?

Kids do the darndest things

Well, life was good for this young farm family with close relatives coming to visit the new place. Naturally, many comments of praise centered on the windmill. So much so, that one of the older boy cousins decided to show off by climbing up the windmill and shouting the words, “Hey, look at me!”

To say the least, his parents were not thrilled and gave him a good scolding for his antics. All of the adults were definitely upset and added their two-cents worth of reprimands, but they also realized that kids sometimes do the darndest things.

Well, yes, it’s true that kids sometimes do the darndest things, but there is another maxim that kids often adhere to. Remember the adage: “Monkey see, monkey do!”

Hey, look at me

A few days later disaster struck with full force. Little Lou Ann was missing and neither my mom nor my dad could find her. Both of them frantically searched the farmyard to no avail. Even the old farm dog didn’t seem to have a clue of where she might be hiding.

Mother remembered that Lou Ann liked to play the game hide and seek. She was very good at hiding even from the dog and her sister. And so it was the case this time.

For what seemed like hours to them, my parents searched the area and called for her, but still no Lou Ann. My mother said that at this point, her heart just seemed to stop and she began to cry.

It must have been mom’s crying that made Lou Ann finally reveal her hiding spot with the familiar words, “Hey, look at me!”

Mother said that she heard the little voice but still couldn’t locate where it was coming from. So, she shouted hysterically “Where are you, Lou Ann?”

“I’m up here, mama,” was the answer. “I’m up on the windmill.”

Sure enough the little monkey was seated up on the platform atop the windmill. Dad and mom both recalled how the little squirt was swinging her legs back and forth with a big smile on her face and waving at them.

One can only imagine the frightful state of my parents, but somehow dad kept his cool and quickly climbed the windmill ladder and brought the little tyke back down to safety. I don’t know what happened next, but I do know Little Lou Ann never, ever pulled this hiding trick again.


It was a scary time for my parents — one that they often talked about and referred to in regard to our family growing up on the farm. And here I am again relating this scary farm story as a reminder to watch and keep your little ones safe.

By the way, I must also include that my dad made sure no little child would ever climb this windmill again. He removed the bottom half of the ladder that very same day. He didn’t want to experience anymore “Monkey see; monkey do” antics.

Jane Green and her husband, Jim, live near Clark. Contact Jane for some public speaking, to order one of her books, or to register your comments. Email her at jgreen@itctel.com.