Fond memories of life as a ‘country-girl’Published 7:34pm Friday, July 11, 2014
Often I’m chastised by my friends for my fascination with country life, especially at this time of year when there’s sweet corn to be picked and tomatoes are on the vine. That’s when I get a heavy dose of farm fever.
“You never lived in the country,” my friends say as if you have to be a dirt farmer and cornbread “pore” to love the country.
But I did live in the country. Today, my home place is not “in the country” but back when I was growing up, a dirt road a mile from town was country. Try walking a country mile and you’ll know.
Pop, my granddaddy, owned farmland and he had tenant houses all along a pig trail on his place. He grew cotton and corn and covered it with clover. He and my grandmother probably had the first commercial chicken houses around these parts. It sure smelled like it.
And they didn’t have people come from south of the border to catch the chickens when they grew big enough for the Sunday dinner table. The farm hands and “me and my cousin Jimmy” snagged those ol’ chickens by their skinny, tough, yellow legs with a long wire that hooked on the end. The farm hands thought it was work. We thought it was fun, just like rounding up cattle in the Old West.
In the back yard, Mommie had chickens and a rooster that would chase us around the chicken yard like a dog chasing cats. And, if we didn’t or couldn’t out run the ol’ rooster, our legs would get a peckin’ that hurt worse than a keen peach tree limb switching across them.
Pop had a horse named Betty that was on her last stop before the glue factory. But, to us, Betty was a fine horse. She would ride us around the chicken yard and through the pecan orchard. She would stand perfectly still while we jumped from a tree limb onto her back just like the cowboys did in the picture show.
Pop’s cows doubled as horses when the notion struck us. We’d have a great time riding them around the catch pen until Pop came along and whacked us on our backsides with his walking stick.
Mommie had a milk cow that sometimes gave chocolate milk. Daisy Mae was a brown cow so she was likely to give chocolate milk. White cows gave white milk and spotted cows gave buttermilk but brown cows could give chocolate milk, if they took a notion.
I never saw Daisy Mae give chocolate milk. She always gave that while we were in school.
We always had fresh butter that Mommie made in a cake and put a design on top with the butter knife. We had fresh vegetables from the garden and strawberries in the early summer. We had peach trees and a scup’non arbor.
The gatherings from the garden were canned and the pantry was our Piggly Wiggly.
There was always an ol’ hog in the pen getting fattened to lay down its life when the first cold spell came along in the fall.
We’d pull corn, before it was ready, to make corn shuck dolls. We fought wars with the cobs.
My family owned the ice plant and people would bring their co-colas and watermelons to be cooled down on those hot summer days. “Me and Jimmy” would get to crush ice and make snow cones for the young’uns that came with their daddies to get ice. We were very popular in the summertime.
When the cotton was ready to be picked in the fall, we would go to the fields but that was about all we’d do out there. The barn would be filled with cottonseed and we’d swing from the rafter and land in soft stuff head first, feet first, on our backs and belly up. Not even Mr. Walt Disney could conjure up as much fun as we had playing in the cottonseed.
There was no thrill to compare with being a part of the gin crowd. And, there’s no mountain as high as the stacks of cotton bales on the ginyard. We’d go across the railroad tracks to Mr. Tom Conner’s store and get an Orange Crush and a pack of cheese crackers and climb up Mount Cotton Bale and listen to the farmers tell tall tales. I was fascinated by that way of life.
Sadly, I can’t go back to those days but I’ll always cherish the memory of them and the times I was a real-life, country kind of gal..
Jaine Treadwell is features editor of The Messenger. Contact her at email@example.com.