E.M.’s RWP-#266- stanchion- What I Learned from Cows

Children never recognize that their lives have blessings. There are experiences that we have that seem ordinary until we’re grown and reflect upon them.
As a child, I had the tremendous opportunity to hang around on my grandparent’s farm.
“Doesn’t everyone?”
Not until later on, I realized, “No, Susan. Most have no idea about your experiences.”
One especially cool experience was observing old-fashioned milking time.
The cattle would wait beyond the barn door as they knew it was milking time. The doors were flung open, and they’d file in finding their own assigned spot among many. There was an open stanchion that they would stick their head through finding a measured amount of grain waiting. One of the chores was for someone to walk along beyond and snap each stanchion shut. This kept each cow still until the milking machine could be placed on her.
It was a while before I was tall enough and responsible enough to be the stanchion closer but when that happened, it was a rite of passage and confidence booster for this kid. Walking among 1200-pound beasts is alone a big deal so snapping that stanchion shut and patting each on the head like I owned the place was a super big deal.
None of the kids that I went to elementary school with had any idea about those extraordinary life experiences and watching them squeal at spiders or run from puppies soon made me appreciate my life.
My escapades with those cows were many. Some were smarter than others and tried to intimidate me. I learned a lot about asserting myself, hiding fear, and, of course, connecting with animals.

Someday, I’ll tell you about Suzette. She became my nemesis and her daughter Bambi carried on her legacy! But that’s another story…


https://emkingston.wordpress.com/2022/09/12/e-m-s-rwp-266-stanchion/

A World of Common Scents/ d’Verse Poetics- Childhood Reminiscence

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Me giving a nervous ‘city slicker’ friend a ride on good ole’ Nugget

Freshly mown hay’s
Sweet aroma wafts
Surrounding a sweaty beast

Interrupted by leather
Stomping the air
Pungently delicious

Saddling a moment
All encompassing,
Nostrils flaring

Recovery secured
Time standing still
Fragrant reminiscence

——
Nothing teleports me back to my happy childhood more immediately than the combined aromas of horse, leather, and hay.

SoCS- 8/13/22- Ugly on the Farm

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is starts with “u.” Find a word that starts with the letter “u” and use it however you’d like. Bonus points if it’s the first word in your post. Enjoy!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t online for a few days but upon my return this morning I found this prompt perfect for a little jaunt down memory lane.
My word is “ugly”.
My Mom has always emphasized good grammar. Word meanings were also important. One particular pet peeve of hers was the use of “probably” and “possibly” interchangeably. Those words are NOT interchangeable. The former means “more than likely” or “an excellent chance” and the latter means “there’s a chance” or “it’s 50/50 odds” that something will happen.
Well, on the same word meaning examination angle, Mom always told us to say “homely” to describe mildly unattractive people or animals. The word “ugly” was reserved for only the “grotesque” images.
Here’s my associated tale:
My grandma was a farmer and, of course, from the older generation. I don’t know if it’s a ‘country thing’ or an ‘elder thing’ but Grandma expressed herself often in idiomatic terms.
“Make hay will the sun shines”
“Between a rock and a hard place”
“At sixes and sevens”
were all frequently heard and Many, Many, more!
I was about six years old and likely being a pest to my very busy, hard-working, Grandma when she said to me, “If you keep that up, I’ll get ‘ugly’.”
I specifically remember studying Grandma’s face thinking, “My wonderful Grandma could never be ugly.”
Of course, all went along well thereafter because whatever I’d been doing gave way to quiet contemplation of her odd word usage.
Not long after that, Grandma instructed me to stay safely in the car while she spoke to a neighbor in the neighbor’s dooryard because, ” We don’t know if that farm dog in the yard is “ugly” or not.”
When I observed the BEAUTIFUL German shepherd (He was far from even homely.), I figured out what she meant by ‘ugly’! LOL
The world and my grandma’s words had become clear. Ugly meant ‘mean’, ‘vicious’ or ‘mad’!

To this day, I can ‘ace’ the Jeopardy category on American Idioms just from having spent time on the farm with my beloved Grandma. 😀
Hope you all had a wonderful Saturday and none of you got ‘ugly’!


https://lindaghill.com/2022/08/12/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-aug-13-2022/

Once upon a time…

Nugget 2

I happened upon a vendor, at the flea market, this weekend. She was selling old beaten, yet still useful, metal trucks. My heart was happy at the memories stirred by these relics. Days spent riding them over the grass hills of my backyard with my brother. Tumbling and laughing …oblivious of their sharp edges and lead paint…we used them in the unintended ways kids do with toys.
Out of nowhere, I remembered Halloween and the fun we had roaming our neighborhood until 10:00 pm! I reminisced for a moment with the vendor. We shared a happy talk of pillowcases filled with candy and the knowing we were safe because we knew our neighbors.
“Now, Halloween is limited to an hour and a half .” I sighed. “Oh well, the kids won’t miss what they never had, I guess.”  I walked away with a heavy heart.

The next vendor had a metal Popgun for sale. He wanted $20.00 for memory’s sake and I held the toy, not daring to buy, but allowing myself the memories of me, as Annie Oakley once again. Jamming the barrel with dirt that would go off, with a pop and a puff, was not the intended use, of course. Such happy times…

I’d just had a birthday so reminiscing was near, anyway. The rest of the morning held flashbacks to the happiest times riding in the back of pick-up trucks and on top of hay wagons, with the breeze and treetops at my cheek.
Building campfires on an old dirt road and learning to swim without life vests in the ponds and creeks, came back. Using a wood-burning set without incident and at an “inappropriate” age and the “Thing Maker” with molten goop producing plastic bugs. Riding an, at least 1000 lb horse, bareback at the age of 6 and wandering about the cows, who weighed the same, without fear nor injury because I had been taught about caution. Oh yes, and building bows with arrows of sharpened sticks with the Barlow pocketknife grandpa bought for me. Building jumps for my spider bike and riding with no hands…feet upon the handles…producing some scrapes and bruises, but what a ride! Climbing to the tops of trees and silos and getting scared but holding tight and cheering “like a gold medalist” when I, once again, found the ground.
These things are dangerous and won’t happen any more…why? Because no modern child would attempt them. They haven’t any way to test themselves…to learn caution as they grow by “uping” the ante of self-reliance. All they know is “You mustn’t try. You mustn’t risk. Your judgement is flawed.Don’t get hurt.”
Kids are taught to fear, now.  A fine beginning to taming them…self-reliance is dangerous, you know.
Wild colts can turn into sheep.

Kids won’t miss, what they never had…

My Grandma

An alarm clock goes off somewhere downstairs. It’s 3:30 am and I wander into the kitchen where grandma is dressed and preparing breakfast for the men. Places are set at the table when she feeds the dog and pats me on the head asking me if I might want to go back to bed. I say “No, I want to go to the barn today.”
She hollers up the stairs every 5 minutes for half an hour. “Get up!” Each time the pitch rises in her voice until she hears fumbling footsteps. The men enter the kitchen, with yawns and grumbles, just before we walk to the barn in the dark of early morning. I’m too little to help so I set off to find kittens in the corners of the barn. Switches are pulled and motors come to life to the clanging of milking machines being assembled. She opens the barn door where the cows are anxiously awaiting entry. They know their places and file in, much more orderly than kids would, extending their heads through stanchions that will be closed keeping them there.

I hear the scuffing of rubber boots and the men take up their duties of closing stanchions and graining each cow according to her own needs. When I get a little older, I’ll be helping. But, for now, my job is to stay out-of-the-way of the cows. I walk along by their heads, petting the friendly ones. Tigress and Ginger are my friends. Each cow has a name. The number tags are many years beyond. My grandma will laugh, harder than I’ve ever seen, when I announce that Raindrop really looks like my Dad and a cow will be renamed “My Friend”, this summer, just because of my insistence that she was.

Later on, Grandma will rush to put on lunch and then take a power nap of about 20 minutes. She may be running the rake in the hay-field, shortly after that, then back to the barn for evening milking. After evening milking, there’s supper. Grandma was the best cook. She never measured with cups. Only now, I realize it was more efficient in time saved, not by choice. Seven days a week, every single day of the year, Grandma worked. She mowed her own lawn, washed the laundry and did the grocery shopping too.

Grandma rarely wore make-up or fancy clothes. She loved to read. Anne of Green Gables was her favorite. She would doctor any injured person or animal and put out milk for the feral cats without fail. She loved extra oregano and green peppers in her spaghetti sauce and thought daisies and phlox were the sweet touches placed on earth to remind her of delicate things she wouldn’t, otherwise, be able to enjoy.

Grandma used the phrases “between a rock and a hard place” and “at sixes and sevens” when she was frustrated. No swearing, ever. On the rare occasion that I was irritating her to distraction, she’d say, “Don’t make me get ugly with you.” I didn’t know what that meant, exactly. I do remember looking at her face and wondering how my beautiful grandma could EVER be ugly?

Our minds often tell us what we already know in dreams and flashes. When she passed away in 1999, I had a persistent flashback of a movie scene that plagued me for months. It was Dorothy embracing the Scarecrow, in the Wizard of Oz, and whispering in his ear, “I think I’m going to miss you most of all.”

Gotta to love it when your mind gets things so right!

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Pals in a Place and Time

Shadow Rough Collie
Shadow Rough Collie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Buffy rolled back his upper lip and grinned. It was the collie in him. He smiled when he was excited and when our car pulled into the dooryard, he was very happy.

I loved him in spite of his lack of kindness to the feral cats. He’d sadly ended the misery for a few who had gotten in his face. I luckily had never witnessed that. This was an oversight in his upbringing that I could not reverse but, as a playmate, he was the very best. He would have given his life to protect me. This I was sure of.

When my parents ended their visit with grandma and grandpa, I would be staying. Buffy and I would have many hours to ourselves.

The chores on my grandparents’ farm, waited for no one. After a very early breakfast, I was left alone to play, while the adults did the morning milking.  Sometimes, I would spend  the first hour among the cows at the new milking “parlor”, but more often, opted to play with my pal and my imagination.

It is only now, that I realize how much my company meant to Buff. Unless the cows got out and he was asked to herd them back, he was overlooked. An occasional pat on the head was the most he could hope for when I wasn’t around.

The sound of house sparrows brings me back to, the two of us , sunning ourselves on the steps. The birds would flutter in the dusty driveway to ward off mites in their feathers. Buffy would lean into me so very hard as I wrapped my arms around his neck. The smell of dust, hay chaff and grease ( from lazing around beneath farm equipment) greeted my nostrils when I buried my face in his fur. A combination that would have been repugnant had it not been the smell of my pal. I’m sure that I will be moved to tears should I find the same odor again. What a bitter sweet surprise that would be.

Then off we’d go. I’d be a master dog trainer and he was my willing pupil. I made up hand signals for him to follow.  I’d wave and he’d jump a bale of hay and follow a maze that I had created. It took many hours and a lot of sweat to manage the hay bales alone. But, I had all day and very friendly company by my side.

Sometimes we’d just sit in the grass on the hill overlooking the barn. Buffy would whine with pleasure as I rubbed his belly. We enjoyed the breeze that that spot always had. The squawk of red-winged blackbirds and the fragrance of  phlox, each bring me right back to those moments. My grandmother’s house was surrounded with phlox of every color and the “crik” below had a marsh where the red-winged blackbirds nested.

Once in awhile, I wish Buffy  could have known what it was like to be a family dog. But, It just would not have fit him somehow. He was a dog of his time.  Instead of wondering “what if ?” , I’ ll  cherish how we belonged to each other, back then, and shared a place and time, where we needed a pal.

Discovery and Sorrow

When I was young, I spent lots of my time on my grandparents’ farm. I played alone for the greater part of my stays. While amusing myself, as the adults did chores, I learned so much about the world. One of my favorite activities was rock collecting. I was too young to know the names of them but took a great interest in what, I discovered, were so many types. There’s so much to be learned when a child does her own discovering.

I used to search for “nests” of feral kittens. The farm cats often chose to birth their babes between the hay bales in the loft. I spent hours watching the mothers and learned to mimic the sound they made when they brought home a “catch of the day”. After a while, I realized my skill could locate those kittens. My yowl proved to be an excellent tool. Once perfected, I was able to call out and have the hidden babies respond. Once located, I’d handle and cuddle them. I’d name them and teach them not to be afraid of people. Ultimately, the lives of feral cats are worth little. Once in a while, my mother found a home for one but most were often taken by disease and disaster.

I cried a lot on the farm. My heart wanted better for each an every baby. It was on the farm that I learned one person can not save the world. But one person could offer comfort and love to another creature, even if it were for only one moment in time. It would have been so sad if those kitties had never known the warmth of a lap and a kiss between their ears. Don’t you think?