When my two sisters and I were kids, our parents took a trip to Europe for a few weeks one summer. We could not go with them and were farmed out – literally – to the biggest farm I have ever seen. It belonged to the family of my older sister’s good friend.
This farm not only grew multiple crops like corn and beans, they also had all manner of animals including cows, horses, pigs, chickens and goats. I was in awe. It was amazing! My little sister wasn’t as thrilled. She missed Mom and Dad and cried a lot, especially at night.
But during the day, we had lots of fun. Every morning after breakfast we would run out to the chicken coops to collect the eggs. I was fascinated. It was like a treasure hunt every day! Then, we got to help “Farmer Dad” feed the horses and cows. It was actually pretty hard work, but I didn’t mind because it passed the time. I was a bit homesick, too.
At lunchtime, there were a lot of men seated around the table – I learned they were hired farmhands. “Farmer Mom” put out quite a spread, which always included fresh veggies, corn-on-the-cob and watermelon.
At one meal, there was a big bowl of fresh broccoli. When a scoop of it hit my little sister’s plate, she started screaming bloody murder. There was a green wiggly worm in her broccoli! (It blended in and it was awesome.) I abruptly stopped laughing when the adults’ dirty looks came my way. To this day, my sister does not eat broccoli.
After meals, my little sister and I got to haul the table scraps out to the pigs or as Farmer Mom put it, “slop the hogs.” Holy smokes! I learned quickly from whence the phrase “eats like a pig” came. As we watched the hogs (literally) pigging out, I suddenly recalled the scene from my favorite movie at the time, “The Wizard of Oz,” when Dorothy accidentally falls into the pig sty. The little devil seated on my left shoulder said, “Do it! Do it!” while the angel seated on my right shoulder said, “No! She’s your baby sister and you love her.” Okay, okay … I didn’t do it.
Evenings on the farm were very nice and peaceful. These folks did not watch TV. Instead, we all sat on the front porch and watched the sunset. Farmer Mom snapped string beans while her hubby read the newspaper. My sisters and I ran around the yard and caught fireflies. Bedtime came early and the next morning, it started all over again.
A few years later, our family moved to the Chicago area and I became a bonafide city kid. I will never forget my summer down on the farm, however, and believe that every child should have this experience at least once in their lifetime.