I’ve gotten some questions about the farm, so here’s a summary. The first few years of my life we had a milk cow, Bessie, that Daddy milked twice a day so we had fresh milk, which I disliked. Much later, when I tried skim milk and liked it, I realized that it was the cream that I didn’t like. We always had a garden where we raised tomatoes, potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and flowers for cut arrangements. At one time we had chickens, but that didn’t last long because my dad didn’t like to eat chicken and just getting the eggs wasn’t worth the bother.
We always kept pigs and had them slaughtered in the fall, making pork sausage and smoking hams and bacon. Quite a foreign idea to those living in a Muslim country! We also kept beef cows and would have one slaughtered and the meat cut up and frozen. We had a large chest freezer that was often filled with beef and vegetables from our farm.
The part of the farm I disliked the most was working in tobacco. We would take the tobacco worms off the leave and kill them, one plant at a time. Then we had to “sucker” tobacco–take off the small sprout out of the middle so the base plant would grow stronger. Then we had to cut it, stalk by stalk, and hang on wooden sticks in the barn. I still have a scar on my toe from the time the tobacco knife slipped. At least that got me out of the job for the rest of the day!
The barn in the picture on an earlier post was one of the tobacco barns where the sticks of tobacco were hung to dry. After the leaves dried, we’d “strip tobacco,” taking off each leaf and binding several together at the stems. Then it could be sold at market. The tobacco leaves were sticky and the stuff would be almost impossible to get off our hands. After Steve joined the family, he was shocked at how labor-intensive it was to grow tobacco. Then he persuaded my father that it was inconsistent to be opposed to smoking and raise tobacco, so Daddy quit growing it, though it was his most profitable cash crop.
We also raised wheat, and harvesting it was the only part of farming that I liked because I was allowed to drive the tractor from about age ten or so. The wheat would go into bags and a person had to tie off one bag while the wheat grains were pouring into the other bag. Daddy and I would take turns on the tractor or bagging the wheat. It was hot work, but I did enjoy that part.
The best part of all of it, whether canning beans or cooking or farming was that my parents talked to me and listened to me. I think that may be the most important part of parenting—listening to your children and responding. Mother, especially, would tell me Bible stories and stories from her childhood. Daddy would talk about the soil quality and seeds and sowing and reaping and draw spiritual connections. They were constantly planting seeds in my mind and watering them as well. They were both life-long learners and encouraged me also always to keep learning.
That learning thing really stuck, too. So next week I’m attending the Maranatha Christian Writer’s Conference http://www.writewithpurpose.org/ to see what else I can learn about writing and publishing.