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/

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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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?

Homeless chptr 4

I was dreaming when the roaring beast came to rest…

My mother was combing my forehead with her tongue. I felt the familiar weightlessness that mother’s attention caused. When I opened my eyes I expected to see my siblings piled on top of  me , indeed, cats were above me but none were familiar. The smell of urine hung in the air. Often used to mark territories or signal fertility, this smell was fear. Oddly, there were no fights probably due to a temporary bond against an unknown enemy.

We had been placed in a small holding pen near a brick wall. Fifteen cats of all sizes and ages were inside the 4’x4′  cage. Anxious purring ran like waves through the crowd. There was one person outside. She talked calmly and her voice was gentle.

Missy crouched beside me. Her trembling had stopped when we were reunited. I hoped she wouldn’t notice mine.

Comfort comes in so many forms. For cats, all  that’s “familiar” is necessary for balance. Dogs romp happily, obediently at their owners’ heels but for cats, it’s territory first, human companionship, maybe. So when “gentle voiced” stranger opened the cage, I struck out with anger and such force as to offer an opportunity for Missy, a calico kitten and I to escape. We ran together through screeching tires,screams of anger and ,finally to a quiet refuge in a strange “barn”.

What an odd and terrifying world we had entered. How I wished we were still on the farm.

There are No Limits

I touched the sky once…

I’d been trying to since I was three. Felt as though I almost did it the time I jumped from the top step and scraped my knees. It didn’t hurt…I almost touched the sky, after all.

The pine tree with its elbow in just the right place, offered a perch. As I grew older, I reached closer to the top. Ahhh, but the sky knew I was there and backed away a bit. Clever is the sky. It is not supposed to be touched and you must catch it off guard.

I used to practice my reach by walking ’round my house with a mirror turned up beneath my nose. Walking through the house with your “up” being your “down” can be a bit treacherous if you haven’t cleared the way but touching the sky is a worthy challenge. Training is a part of every hard earned skill.

Once I learned that jumping would be no part of it, my knees healed and my mind worked on a plan to trick the sky. She often comes close and tickles us on foggy mornings but she, the sky, is doing the touching.

It would be unsafe to stand up while riding in the back of a pick-up truck. The sky knows you are closer there but dances out of reach again to keep a child from trying.

One glorious day, I rode among the hay bales in the hay wagon. The sky was not aware that I sat in between the bales. I could tell because she was playing with the wind in the tree tops along the road. The fingers of the trees connected in an arbor above and were giggling unaware that I was watching. As I climbed the hay steps to the top, I entered a place I had searched for. The sun winked at me through the leaves as I lifted my head above the rails. Suddenly, the tree limbs erupted in applause and the sky hugged me. She knew I’d touch her one day! She tousled my hair in a “job well done” fashion and I raised my arms offering “high fives” to the elms and clouds.

That moment lives in my heart. Once you touch the sky, there is no limit to what a person can do. The sky is NOT the limit you know, it’s the beginning of living on top of your world.