Have you ever gathered eggs?
To this day, it feels like Christmas morning every time.
I still remember when I was nine and the excitement of gathering eggs. The chicken nests were along the south wall of our old chicken house.
The sound of fifty nervous clucking birds wondering what you were up to. Dust…and chicken feathers. The smell of chicken feed. The dirty glass on the windows…chicken wire over a rickety screen door.
None of that mattered. All that mattered was finding the eggs. Once in a while, a hen would still be sitting on her nest. I was too young to realize (or care) that I was interrupting her in a most private moment….
I (who had grown up in small town USA) had never experienced any of these things before moving to the farm at nine.
I remember slipping my hand under the sitting chicken, feeling around for eggs..Sometimes, the hens wouldn’t have any of it, and gave me a peck.
Feel like I just popped a cork off a bottle of early farm memories….
The smell of fresh curing hay in the summer.
The smell of a freshly plowed field in the spring.
Siding up next to a nine hundred pound Guernsey with my two-legged milking stool, with the intention of milking her by hand. The feel of her letting down her milk as I washed her utters. It took five minutes to milk all four quarters. The farm cats knew when it was milking time and hung out, hoping for a squirt. Rich Guernsey raw milk. After we strained it and put it in the frig, there would be an inch of cream float to the top. Sometimes mom would let us make butter with it.
The biting raw subzero cold in the dead of winter doing chores. Pulling the small square bales of hay out of the mow. I remember my hands feeling like my finger tips were on fire.
Then later… raising pigs…The contented grunting sounds of the mama sows nursing their litter. The warmth of the barn. The radio tuned to AM 600 WMT so dad could hear the farm markets.
Side raking hay. Clipping along listening to Band On The Run. Dust. Insects with big wings trying to fly into my ears as I turned the hay over. To this day, whenever I hear that song, it immediately takes me back in time.
Did I ever tell you about the first time I hauled manure? Ancient manure spreader pulled by a John Deere A. Two bangers the old farmers called them.
Put put put put….
Dad said to spread the load just behind the barn. Made it to the field no problem and saw where he’d been working. Got the tractor facing west, pushed the hand clutch ahead without killing the motor..and I was off! Then reached down to my right and pulled up on the power take off lever…the rumbling sound of the power take off…engaging the manure spreader…and like magic..the chunks of cow dung and hay flying fifty feet in the air.
I was bonified!
And then…chunks of cow manure began to rain down upon me like fire and brimstone. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was the wind….
Life lesson: Never spread manure with a stiff breeze at your back.
What song (s) take you back to your summers growing up?