The Farm

 

          On a little piece of land in Moultrie, Georgia, my grandma and granddaddy had a nice peaceful farm. Unlike most farms in the Moultrie area, this farm was small but full of adventure and living. I can remember roaming the pastures on Sunday afternoons during spring. The air was full of dandelions stirred up by the cows making their way to the watering hole. As a child my whole weekends were spent on the farm with my grandparents. Sundays were special because on those days a feeling of calmness and tranquility was in the air. On Sunday there was always time to slow down and enjoy the country smells of ripe pears, freshly cut hay, wildflowers in bloom, and fishponds overflowing with catfish. Memories burst in my head of enjoyable Sundays and of one very painful Sunday on the farm.

          When I was a child, the little gray farmhouse stood tall with a huge front porch and a large yard full of trees. The house, facing to the north, was situated in the middle of the farm. A fence surrounded the yard with an entrance gate on the dirt road from the north. On the right side of the house there stood a huge pecan tree. On the left side a hundred year old oak tree stood shading the ground with its enormous branches. I always thought the tree looked like a giant with millions of spooky arms reaching out to grab me. Grandma had her clothesline in the backyard, and there was a large pecan tree that almost filled up the backyard with its enormous branches.      

          There was a smelly pigpen connected to the fence on the right side of the yard that stretched around the backyard. Being a mischievous little girl, I used to stand and watch the piglets splash around in the mud hole next to the fence, hoping to get a little mud on me. During spring the smell of freshly cut hay drifted from the field on the left side of the yard. As a child I always enjoyed playing hide-and-seek in the tall grass before it was cut to make bails of hay for the cows. Sundays were wonderful days to run and play in the hay fields because most of the time Granddaddy was taking an afternoon nap. Beyond the house a large cow pasture stretched like a half-moon around the farm. Though the farm may have appeared small to some, Grandma and Granddaddy always had bountiful harvests and plenty of room to live.

          I would jump out of bed on Sunday mornings to the smell of frying sausages, rising buttermilk biscuits, and perking coffee. My granddaddy had usually already eaten and was out checking on the cows before church. I can remember going with him early one Sunday morning. A cow was due to deliver a calf overnight, and Granddaddy needed to check on her. As I traipsed along behind him, I could smell the early morning sweetness of grass wet with dew. I felt very excited as I watched Granddaddy check the newly born calf to see if she was healthy. Finally, after making sure everything was all right, Granddaddy and I returned to the house to get ready for church. When church was over my parents would follow my grandparents and me back to the farm. Grandma always had the long oak table filled with honey-glazed ham, fresh green vegetables, and sweet cherry pies covered with whipped cream. Everyone settled down after Sunday lunch except me. I was always out getting into something. One Sunday afternoon I got a big surprise. My granddaddy told me to go down to the corral where the cows were usually fed. When I got to the fence, I could not believe my eyes. There stood a cream and tan pony named Misty. She was a palomino Shetland pony, and I spent the rest of the afternoon learning how to ride her. This was the best thing that had ever happened to me. My granddaddy knew my favorite animals were horses. He had made my dream of owning one come true.

          He spent a lot of time teaching me how to ride Misty and how to put the saddle and bridle on her. He gave me the big responsibility of taking care of her. At first, I did not like the idea of having to feed, water, and bath her, but I’m glad that my granddaddy taught me how to be responsible for something other than myself. I did not ever want to give my pony away.

          I can remember one weekend my grandparents and parents sat me down to have a little talk. I really did not know what to expect. My parents explained to me that my granddaddy was sick and that he was going to have to start visiting the hospital very often. My parents told me that since my granddaddy was not going to be at home very much, they were going to have to sell my pony. They did not have anyone to take care of her while they were away. At first, I wanted to cry, but I realized that my granddaddy was more important to me than my pony. I told them that I understood and waited till later to cry. I did not want anyone to know how much I was hurting inside. I was upset about losing my pony, but I was more worried about losing my granddaddy.

          After that weekend, my granddaddy started a series of tests and treatments for lung cancer. He spent many days in the hospital, and when he was at home, he did not get out very much. I missed my pony, but I was very worried about my granddaddy. I became very afraid of what this disease was doing to my granddaddy. I really could not understand what was happening to him. My parents and grandma tried to help me understand, but all I wanted was for him to be well.

          The time finally came when I would have to give my granddaddy up. It was a Sunday in October of 1980. My granddaddy had been sick for months with lung cancer. Everyone had finished Sunday dinner, and I was outside riding my bike. I can remember my daddy sitting me down on the steps and telling me my granddaddy had passed away.  From that moment on, the farm had no life and adventure for me. My granddaddy had spent many hours with me on the farm. He had taught me about farm animals, farming the land, and how to respect all living things. He had been like a second father to me. I realized he was no longer going to be with me.

          Now, as an adult, visiting the farm on Sundays brings back many happy memories. Standing in the yard of the little gray farmhouse, my memory calls back echoes of red farm tractors cutting hay, pigs squealing for their mothers, kids’ laughter ringing from the giant oak tree limbs, and Granddaddy calling for his cows. The smells of spring on the farm have faded with the past since the cows and pigs have been sold and fertile fields lie waiting for a golden harvest.

          I will always remember one Sunday when my granddaddy said, “Always thank the Lord for His blessings and rest on Sundays, and the rest of the week will be bountiful with his blessings.” I feel, even now, the farm has an aura of love and thankfulness for all the long, hard, and happy years given to it by my granddaddy.

 

Note:  Eighteen years after my granddaddy’s death, my husband and I have remodeled the old farmhouse and are living a wonderful life on the farm. My granddaddy’s brothers and their kids have started farming the land again, and two of the kids have built homes on the farm. I know my granddaddy is looking down from heaven and is very pleased with the legacy he has left his children and grandchildren.