The First Time…

We moved to the farm when I was nine.

I stepped into another world.

A world of noise.


Sun up to sun down physical…work.

It wasn’t all bad.

Have you ever slid  down an elevator, drenched in sweat, after stacking  two  hundred bales of hay in 120 degree haymow?

It is one of the simple pleasures of life 🙂

Winter in the Midwest brings it’s own set of issues.

Frozen water pipes.

Temperatures so low, my fingers would feel like they were on fire.

I would get  up at 5:30 in the morning to milk 18  humongous Holstein cows,  20 times my body weight, twice a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year,for seven years….

You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to put a milk machine on a fresh heifer.   The trick is to plaster yourself against her flank, put your arm between her utters and her back leg, so when she kicked your arms acted as a buffer.

If you’re not paying  attention,  you and the milk machine will end up in the gutter…guaranteed.

I got a front row seat  delivering babies growing up…

Baby pigs, baby calves….I can still remember the day I had to put my pet calf down.

The whole cycle of life played out  right before my eyes, multiple times.

I can still remember the day, dad said I was old enough  to drive the tractor by myself,and spread manure.

We were John Deere people.

With letters like “A” or “B” stenciled on the metal.

“Two Bangers”  the old farmers called them, because  they ran on just two cylinders… You could here them coming a half a mile a way.

The clutch was a vertical metal rod.  I learned  you needed to ease it ahead nice and slow to put it in gear.

The spreader (short hand for manure spreader) was attached to the tractor by a tongue and a power take off shaft….

I got on the John Deere A,  eased it into 3rd gear and headed North. The field we were spreading manure on was right behind the barn. A  1/4 of a mile  long….

The only instructions I remember dad telling me was to take my time and not go too fast.

Got to the designated area, downshifted into 2nd, put the clutch in gear, pulled the power take off handle…

The next thing I knew, large  chunks of  fresh cow manure were raining down on my head.

What dad  neglected to mention was pay attention to the  wind.

We do our kids  a dis-service when we micromanage  their lives, especially as they get older.  A little cow manure never hurt anyone.

When I turned 18,  I moved to town.

Can still see my  dad standing in the driveway watching me leave….

It wasn’t until years later, I began to  appreciate just how much those nine years on the farm shaped my life…..

doug and steve

DM  about 12 years  old.

So maybe you’ve never had cow manure rain down on your head because you didn’t anticipate what might happen..but I’m pretty sure you have a story or three of your own you could tell me along the same lines… I want to hear  them 🙂 DM


5 thoughts on “The First Time…

  1. My grandma said I ate some cow poop while she was milking – I was toddlering around the cow on a pasture with her, age 10 months.. 🙂 – the joke in the family is: I am still full of something. 🙂 I like your cow manure story though. Love the photo. Every human would benefit from ‘farm school’.

    Liked by 1 person

      • My 7-yr old actually came up with that. I asked her what she wants to do when she is bigger, she said her dream is to have a farm, where lots of children and adults can come and learn about plants and seeds, do the tasks, take care of animals. We just used to call it the grandparents place. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t heard the phrase “two-banger” in forever. Lots of memories here — not specifically the same, since we didn’t live on a farm, but still very much grounded in a real-world life of growing, canning, working, and resting. Now that I think about it, it’s still my world. I didn’t choose farming, but I chose outdoors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You touched one one of my favorite reasons for writing…discovering others who have common ground (and or interests) Love that it stirs lots of memories for you Linda, and that you can see a definite connection between what you’re doing today and growing up in Iowa. Would it be fair to say…”You can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl?” 😉


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