Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Labor

of Labor Day weekend... What's that mean to you?

To me, Labor Day weekend has always meant the start of a "new year". No, I know it's not New Year's Day.

This "year" is different. Since it's always been an indication of the start of school, that's a new year - of learning, building friendships, gnashing one's teeth over homework you really don't want to do...

I've been out of school for "several" years now (not as many as you might think, though, since I just graduated from college 10 years ago), but every year at this time, I try to find something new to pursue and learn.

Might not be anything as sophisticated as rocket science, but it's something new to me...

This year, I'm learning how to farm virtually. MAN O MAN but that's a lot of work - sitting on your butt in front of your computer screen, hoping someone will hire you to harvest and plow so you can rack up points to buy more land, buy a house, plant more crops to bring in more money.

And yesterday?

Yesterday, they gave us the added capability of buying an OUT HOUSE! Really! So, guess what I bought with my hard earns coins... YES - an outhouse! LOL

Oh, and I also bought TWO tool sheds (forgot I'd already gotten one!) and a wood shed... I've decided my farm will be rather on the rustic side.

My grandfather owned a dairy farm, so, as a child, I thought that's what life was all about. And most of the rest of my maternal relatives had farms, as well. Matter of fact, my grandfather had two farms. One they lived on, and one their youngest daughter and her family lived on. They called that one "The Other Place".

I have very fond memories of "helping" (at the age of 4-5-6-7-8? I don't think so!). I was allowed to go help bring the cows in to be milked at night.

I was taken to the dairy to drop off the milk at 9 AM each day - AND, I got an ice cream cone at that hour of the day! I was spoiled!

I was always so fascinated walking thru the production part of the dairy- watching the machines fill the milk bottles automatically, to me, was just MAGIC! I think that's what led me into manufacturing in my later life.

In those days, farmers still (and probably do today, as well - I just don't know any anymore) combined their efforts to gather crops - combining wheat, baling hay, gathering corn, and then grinding up the stalks for insulage.

Big old machines that were green (John Deere) or orange (Allis Chalmers) or red (International Havester?) - that made a lot of noise, and were very dangerous by today's standards. I'm probably lucky I'm still alive!

I'm sure I was always underfoot and a great danger to myself and others, but I really treasure the memories from that time of my life.

Grandad also ran a cider mill. In the fall (after the first frost), people would start bringing their apples to him to make cider.

My dad was a city kid - but he helped with the cider making. So did I! I helped kick the apples down the chute towards the conveyor belt that took them to be crushed, then to the press, where they pressed the juice out of those apples to make the cider.

Then they took what was left (I'll call it dregs, but don't know what its official name is) and dumped them behind the cider mill. Have no idea what they might have used this for, but maybe it had good nutrients for the soil, so they sprayed it all over the fields, along with the cow manure.

Gosh, how did I get off on THAT tangent? Oh, I know, virtual farming.

Well, I can tell you virtual farming might be a lot of work, but REAL farming is a lot more!

Oh yeah - I also "got" to help gather eggs from those nasty chickens. Never did like chickens after that - those buggers peck - and it HURTS!

Of course, they knew I was afraid of them, so they pecked even harder and more often.

When I was about 7 my parents bought their own farm. My dad was a mechanical engineer, and had no intentions of quitting his day job to live off the land, so we rented our fields out to the neighbors.

But we did have chickens (!), cows, pigs, turkeys, ducks, and rabbits. Oh, and dogs and cats... So, essentially, I grew up on a farm, too. Just nothing the size and breadth of my granddad's place.

And we made our own hay. Hot, sticky, dirty, dusty work, making hay is.

Our first year there, we only had a Studebaker car and a manure spreader to use to make hay. Guess we must have had someone else cut it and spread it. Then, Daddy hooked the manure spreader to the car, and he drove it around the field while my mom, aunt, and uncle pitched it into the back of the spreader. My job was to tamp it down. I wasn't very strong (PLUS - I WAS A GIRL!), so my chores on the farm consisted of pumping water for the cows, feeding those danged chickens (and assorted other fowl). Girl jobs, I guess...

I was never good at milking the cows, so my brother got that job (thank goodness!). I think my hands were too small at that age, and by the time they were bigger, we no longer had any cows to milk.

At some point, my parents decided this wasn't fun any more (or we were losing our shirts doing it!) or whatever. Maybe since we kids were teen-agers, and my dad had to travel for his REAL job and wanted Mom to go with him, they decided to get rid of all the livestock.

Anyway, it was sort of a sad day, but we moved onward and upward. I graduation high school, started college, and then came home and started working at a Mom & Pop grocery store.

But that's a story for another day.

I have some photos of the swap cards my stampin' sistahs brought with them today, but think I'll save them for another day.

You enjoy your Labor Day, OK?

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