The Planted Row: Let us hear your farm stories
This week I taught my youngest child how to ride a bike without training wheels. As she quickly began riding without my help, I remembered when I learned how to ride a bike as a young boy on the farm.
My childhood home sits in the apex of a curve, and cars often speed past the house at high speed with little warning. My parents decided I had no business learning to ride on such a road, so I was limited to the grass field that separates my father’s house from my grandmother’s house. The grass was usually so thick that I had a hard time peddling through it. Luckily, my dad’s house is uphill from my grandmother’s house, so I could push off at the top of the hill and use the momentum to carry me through the grass. My goal was to make it to my grandmother’s paved driveway before my legs ran out of steam. Once there, I would walk my bike back uphill and do it all over again.
Before long, my legs built up enough strength to carry me all over the farm – through pastures, down dusty dirt roads and over rough fields. If my dad needed a tool to fix a tractor or adjust an implement in the field, he could send me on my bike back up to the farm shop to fetch it for him.
My wheels were my freedom, and they led me everywhere and into all kinds of trouble. I used my bike to meet up with my friends, some kids about half a mile down the road. We had fields and pastures and forests to play in, and we used them all to do really stupid things and have a whole lot of fun. We had BB gun wars (sometimes firing at each other while riding our bikes). We shot fireworks at each other and hastily put out the resulting fires before they got out of control and burned up the countryside. We cut down small trees, built forts, and had pine cone wars. We cut shafts of cane from canebrakes and used them to lob rotten apples at passing cars. We played hide-and-seek through thickets filled with thorny blackberry vines. Sometimes we got thirsty and drank water from the aptly named Mud Creek, perhaps the stupidest and most dangerous thing of all.
Growing up on a farm allowed me the freedom to explore the world around me in a way most city kids will never know. Sure, I got hurt plenty of times, but that was kind of the point. On a farm, whether you’re playing or working, you learn to take risks. You may get burned, but if you live through it, you’re going to end up with a heck of a story.
As I’ve said before in this column, all those farm stories need telling. Farm life isn’t just about the number of bushels harvested or calves sold. Farm life is also all the things that happen when you aren’t in the field. It’s driving a sick child long distances to see a doctor or doing your homework on your hour-long bus ride to or from school every day. It’s coyotes eating your farm cat, and it’s 3 hours spent trying to free your truck from a mud hole.
I have a few good stories, but I know there are many more amazing untold farm stories that live only in the minds of Farm Forum readers. That’s why, in the May 23 edition of the Farm Forum, we’re going to have a Farm Lifestyles special section that will feature your stories. Submit your most moving and entertaining stories to us either via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via a form on our website (http://bit.ly/1jYYfNS). We’ll publish the best ones in the Farm Forum and post them all on our website, so send us your stories and help us celebrate life on the farm!