Archive for the ‘Farm Life’ Category
My first thought when I read the Carnival of Genealogy Challenge for August was “we didn’t have a family business, we had a farm…”
And then I re-thought, realizing that a farm always was (and still is, no matter the size) a business also, though some might say that farming is more of a calling than a career, and for those of us who grew up on a farm, it’s more a part of our hearts than most brick or mortar businesses could ever be.
One of the sayings that I grew up hearing was “You can take the boy off the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.” (Same goes for many of us farm girls, too!)
When my oldest brother was just a toddler, our folks bought the farm where dad grew up with his seven (living) brothers and sisters, and dad’s parent’s, Elmer and Maud (McGinnis) Stocking. My grandparents moved to the nearby town of Mayfield, Kansas with their youngest children and my grandfather Elmer continued his work as a mail carrier until his untimely early death from a heart attack.
Mom, Dad, and my brother Fred moved back to the Mayfield area from Arkansas City (“Ark City”) after they purchased the farm. All of this happened before I was born, or as my brother Harold, Jr. “Fred” would say “before you were even a twinkle in Dad’s eye.”
Farmers then, and farmers now, wear many hats. They must be amateur weathermen/women, watching the weather with an eye to scheduling their work. Their planning, planting, fertilizing, field work, harvesting, and even praying for rain circles around what the farm land needs and when it needs it.
Farmers also need to be bookkeepers, grain marketers, have the ability to supervise their family as workers, as well hired hands if they have some, and during the summer, they often have to put in 60 to 80 hour weeks as well. It wasn’t just sun up till sun down at our farm, it was before the sun came up till the job got done, especially during harvest.
I have always felt that I was one of the luckiest kids in the world, growing up on my folk’s wheat and dairy farm, with 160 acres running room for a back yard! I grew up collecting tadpoles from the buffalo wallows in the pasture (yes, I said buffalo wallows!), chasing crawdads along the creek, roping calves I wasn’t supposed to, and dodging cow pies in the pasture while playing cowboys and Indians, or Yankees and Confederate soldiers with my nephews, who were not much younger than I was.
I also learned to drive a tractor, an old blue Chevy farm truck with a stick shift that my mom nicknamed “WobbleKnees,” and milk a cow by hand as well as with a milking machine.
I was responsible for watering the chickens, gathering the eggs, spoiling our purebred collie puppies and making sure the cats and dogs had food and water.
I loved helping feed the baby calves, and always, always fell in love with one or two each year, wishing they could be my very own pet. I learned to back up straight (after I learned to drive a stick) by backing several hundred feet along a lane, and dumping a half-full milk can of water (about 70 pounds if they were full!) into the calves’ water tank to make sure they had enough water.
I helped hoe the garden, and helped preserve its bounty, enjoying the fresh tasting frozen sweet corn and the better than store-bought canned green beans all winter.
And, lucky me, with my work-at-home folks, I usually either had both my parents home with me, or I was in the field where they were working!
I loved growing up on the farm!
by Sherry Stocking Kline
April 1, 2011
Cars were an important part of our lives on the farm. They took me to school, helped herd dairy cows, took us to town for groceries, to the elevator for supplies and nickel pepsi’s, and made ‘blood runs’ (high speed trips) to the parts store when the combine or tractors broke down.
Our cars had personalities (some more ‘congenial’ than others) and Mom always, always, named them “Nancy Jane.”
“Nancy Jane, you start now, we need to get to church,” she might say as we hurried off to church on a cold morning.
“Nancy Jane, don’t you dare get stuck,” she’d say as we slid sideways down slippery, muddy unpaved roads to and from our home.
It always seemed to me, growing up, that after Mom called the car Nancy Jane in a firm, encouraging, and sometimes scolding voice that the car made an extra effort to do exactly what Mom asked.
After she spoke to it, ‘Nancy Jane’ nearly always came through for us.
Do I talk to my vehicles?
Surely you jest! Of course I do! How else are they going to know what’s expected of them!
“Come on, Baby, we gotta go pick up the granddaughters from school….”
Sherry Stocking Kline
January 8, 2009
I grew up around tractors. Lots of them. Big ones. Little ones. ‘Tricycle’ front end ones like my dad used to cultivate the cattle feed and squatty little red and green tractors with big wide fenders perfect for children to ride along with their parents.
I don’t remember my first tractor ride…
I don’t remember my first tractor ride. I was much too young for that to ‘stick’ in my memory.
I do remember countless hours riding on the fender, hanging on, then getting off when mom or dad stopped (yes, they had his and hers tractors) and running in the furrow behind the plow, my bare feet pounding the sun-warmed damp earth.
I watched out for fishing worms (and picked them up if there was any chance we might go fishing soon). Little baby bunny rabbits ran to get away from the tractors (and me).
Back then, the long, muley-eared jackrabbits were a common sight in Sumner County, Kansas. Now, jackrabbits are pretty rare. I’ve not seen one in a good, long, time, but I have it on good authority that they are still around.
Nowadays children would be taken to a baby sitter…
Nowadays children would be taken to a baby sitter while mom and dad worked, but mom was a ‘work at home’ (or in the field) mom, and I went along. Mom and Dad’s day began at 5:00 a.m. when Mom and our collie dog Lassie brought the dairy cattle in to be milked.
After they milked, dad took the truck with silage in it out to the pasture and the feed bunks to feed the cattle while mom came in and got ready to feed the people in our home, which in the time period I’ve got in mind included Dad, myself, and my brother, Gary.
After breakfast, if it was spring, summer, or fall, Dad and most often Mom would head to the field on a tractor. Not the fancy ones like they have now with air conditioning and GPS, just plain red, then later yellow, and much later the green John Deere’s made their way onto our farm.
I always felt sorry for city kids…
Those were good days, and good memories. I know some city kids would feel sorry for me, no swimming pool around the corner, and no park to go swinging in.
But I always felt sorry for city kids (like my own kids later on) who didn’t get to ride on tractors and combines each summer, who had to play in a postage-stamp-sized back yard instead of a quarter section with pasture and creeks full of pollywogs and crawdad, and who never got to watch baby chicks scurry around after the mama hen, and baby calves grow from awkward to adult.
Sherry Stocking Kline
January 20, 2010
This is going to be an almost wordless Wednesday. My mom was going through old photos this week, and found this gem of my dad, Harold F. Stocking, Sr. (mostly known by his childhood nickname of “Jiggs” all his life) and his favorite registered Ayrshire cow, “Dimples”. This was, I believe, before I came along, as I don’t remember her at all.
My folks were wheat and dairy farmers in south central Kansas (a.k.a. tornado alley) and they raised and milked registered Ayrshire cattle.
Mom said that Dimples was his favorite, and that he was very proud of her, but she developed some health issues and was sold.
If my dad were still alive, today, January 20th, would be his 99th birthday.
Happy Birthday, Dad!
More Stocking family memories & genealogy here…
by Sherry Stocking Kline
December 10, 2009
Thanks to Thomas MacEntee for today’s Christmas Advent Calendar Challenge!
What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give? Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?
Today’s prompt is a tie-in with the Smile for the Camera carnival at Shades of the Departed.
What were my favorite gifts? To receive or to give? Hmmm…
There are several empty places in my family’s circle now, so my Christmas memories are tinged with sorrow as well as joy because I miss those people very much, but there were several gifts that were fun to give, and I remember some I received that gave my little heart joy!
Stick Horses and Cowboy Outfits!
After my nephews came along, most Christmases my folks bought us all something quite similar, and one Christmas when we were all little stair steps, me about seven, and them five and two, we were given the stick horses with the plastic heads and the cowboy and cowgirl outfits to go along with it!
Because we watched Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, HopAlong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, and the Cisco Kid on tv every week we were well-versed in the bang-bang-shoot-em-up outdoor play that included galloping all over our pasture on stick horses to shoot the bad guys. Of course, we were the white-hatted heroes! My youngest nephew, not quite old enough to keep up, insisted on riding his ‘horse’ head down, so his mighty steed’s head got drug all over the pasture!
The most difficult Christmas present I ever bought…
The most difficult Christmas present I ever had to buy was the first one I bought for my mom by myself after my dad passed away. I just couldn’t figure out what to buy. But I found a grandmother’s charm bracelet, with little boy and girl heads, with the names and birth dates engraved on the little heads. By that time, Mom had five grandchildren and one on the way, but I remember standing in the store, feeling very lost and very alone, trying to decide between the choices.
One of the most fun presents we ever bought…
One of the most fun presents that we ever bought was for my father-in-law when our children were small. My father-in-law always hoped that someone would give his boys a train set. (I think so he could enjoy it, too!)
So my husband and I picked him out a neat little train set, and as the television commercial says the look on his face was “priceless.” He set it up in his basement for awhile, and shared it with his grandchildren, and then a few years down the road, when he started spending more time in Texas in the winter, gave it to our children to enjoy.
A Personalized Family Photo Calendar Keeps us All Up to Date!
For the past few years, I’ve e-mailed family members to request family photographs, (whatever they want to send) though the ones where they are fishing, playing softball, and just doing fun things make great collages for the calendar that I make and give to my mom.
I try to focus on a different family group each month, and when possible, feature someone that is having a birthday that month, though in some months, there are several birthdays.
Here is this year’s calendar front, the photograph on the left was taken in 2000, before we lost my brother Gary and my sister-in-law Nancy to cancer in 2001. It shows my mom, with my two brothers standing on the left with their spouses and me on the lower right with my husband. My dad ‘s photo is inset on the right.
I usually make copies for the rest of the family, complete with all the birthdays and anniversaries. They all love it! It’s a great way to help us all keep up with important dates!
There are several places that offer this service…
I bought Broderbund’s calendar creator several years ago, but you can also make calendars several places on the internet, such as at my Heritage Makers’ website, and I believe that Kodak and other places also offer this service.
One good thing about making it with Calendar Creator, and at the Heritage Maker’s website, is that once you get the template set up, complete with birthdays and anniversaries, you just copy and save with a new name for next year, and re-place this year’s photographs with next year’s new ones!