Life on the Farm

Growing up in the South, I lived a delightful childhood which has taken me years to appreciate the freedom and wealth of experience. Since Mother worked at a shirt factory during the winter, much of our care was left to my father and Granny Sharpe. Daddy’s relaxed attitude left no room for fear of danger, but expected us to survive and flourish no matter the circumstance. Therefore, my big sister, Paulette, and I had the run of the farm, providing endless hours of fun and adventure.

We had few toys, but old Sears and Roebuck catalogs became our source of paper dolls. After we chose the best models with perfect poses and clothes, the ratty books were retired to the outhouse. Sticks, pecans and pine cones became our weapons. Mud pies and a discarded wood stove evolved into a culinary experience.  Our imaginations were limitless as we investigated the creek, played hide and seek in the corn fields and the barn loft and attempted to ride our ornery horse, Babe. From the cow shed attached to the barn, we climbed the tall pecan tree where we could see for miles.

Each year, Daddy’s sister, Aunt Marie, brought us a doll and a new dress for Christmas. New store-bought clothes were a novelty for two little girls who were more recognized in dresses and skirts made from shirt factory remnants or hand-me-downs obtained from cousins, Shirley and Jean. Under today’s standards, we would be considered poor, but I rarely felt deprived.

We always had plenty of fresh vegetables from the garden, pork and beef from our livestock, chicken and eggs from the coop or under the house where they liked to roost, and fish from the Altamaha River. (Daddy’s favorite pastime, next to sports and politics.)

After we harvested the sugar cane, we went to a community grinding at a nearby farm. Paulette and I were fascinated, watching the mule circle the contraption as a worker fed the sugar cane into the grinder and the delicious juice flowed into the wooden barrel. A community dipper hung nearby for tasting. The children caught fireflies until late while our parents visited and waited for the last bit of juice to cook down into a thick syrup.

Hog-butchering also brought the neighbors together in the fall. The children were kept from the area until our neighbor, Mr. Jones, shot our former pets or, to save bullets, knocked them in the head and slit their throats. Little from the animal was wasted. Mrs. Jones scraped the small intestines until they were clean and then blew into them to make certain she hadn’t punctured them with her knife. She then filled them with her special recipe of country sausage. She also had a mixture she called, “Hog-head Cheese,” which didn’t resemble cheese at all, but seemed to include anything left over from the victim after pickled pigs feet, chitterlings, ham and bacon. Thank goodness, Daddy didn’t like chitterlings!

Of all the memories of the farm, the most vivid returns me to the age of eight or nine. I am walking in the woods, surrounded by palmetto and long needle pines whose cones often pierce my bare feet. Surrounded by nature and a peaceful presence, I do not feel alone. Transformation occurs when my piney woods becomes a cathedral, a place of prayer where I commune with God. That would be the first of many conversations with the real presence, the One who knows me best and loves me forever.  Do you remember your first encounter with the God of the universe?

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “Life on the Farm

  1. great essay on growing up on a farm. similar to my growing up in Illinois. yes, I remember my first God encounter. At a chuch camp when I was about 9 yrs old. 🙂

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    1. As you probably remember, Church camp at Church of the Apostles was one of my favorite activities for the children. I’m thankful for those sweet reminders of God’s presence in our lives from an early age.

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  2. Sure beats growing up in various apartments along the way, Claudette. Could almost feel the openness, freedom and communion you enjoyed down on the farm, during those years. As girls, my sister and I did not go out much other than school and special events, whereas my brother roamed the neighborhoods, collecting friends that he is still in touch with today. A number of them celebrated his 70th BD a couple of years ago….great to see them. Am happy you had such a free fun-filled existence dear….except, of course for your pet friends, through necessity needing to pass on, as it were!

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  3. It is not surprising that we are friends of the heart! Our childhood experiences are similar– yours in Georgia and mine in Southwest Virginia. My home place was a farm with hills where in the summer I could slide down on a piece of cardboard. In the winter, on a homemade sled when snow covered the ground. I also remember fondly the neighbors gathering to help make molasses, and listening as one would say, “The molasses will be ready when it bubbles like pig eyes!” (I remember seeing the bubbles but I still don’t see that they resembled pig eyes!) I played in Wolf Creek, which was very cold and there was little space to swim because of the huge rocks. I was baptized in that creek in November 1952, man, was it cold! (I had invited Jesus into my heart on July 12, 1952 at the altar of the little country church.)

    Thank you for sharing.

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  4. As you know Claudette I grew up in Arlington along with Charlie. But, my home state ofTennessee living there part of the time brings me to similar memories experience many things that you did as a child. The Country air and the farm bring back many memories that I love. Keep up your writing great job.

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    1. As you recall, Charlie, your brother, Sam, and two more friends spent one semester at your Tennessee farm while in college. Quite an experience for Charlie. As soon as the weather got cold and the trips to the spring became drudgery, they all moved on campus.

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  5. HI CLAUDETTE, I WAS SO ELATED TO RECONNECT WITH YOU THIS A.M. SATURDAY APRIL 7TH, 2018. I SAW THE POST OF YOU, GLYNN RING & OTHERS, TAGED TO HARRIETT RING CLARY. I REMEMBER OUR GOOD OLE DAYS @ PINEY GROVE C.O.G.TOO! AS YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW, I MARRIED DAVID HERRIN, RETIRED SHERIFF OF WAYNE CO. GA. HE SAID YOU & PAULETTE ONCE VISITED HIM @ HIS OFFICE! WE HAVE ONE ‘SPIRITUAL’ GIFT GOD GAVE TO THE BOTH OF US!! 🙌 PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME!!! I WAS DIRECTOR OF CHILDRENS MINISTRY FOR OVER 25 YEARS!! I REMEMBER YOU PLAYING THE PIANO & SINGING @ CHURCH. I MISS THOSE PRECIOUS TIMES & LONG TO SEE THOSE WHO WORSHIPPED WITH US @ PINEY GROVE!! DAVID & MYSELF HAVE 3 ADULT SONS, 5 GRANDCHILDREN, 3 GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN. WE BOTH ARE 71 YRS. OLD NOW & THE MOST IMPORTANT GIFT IS….WE STILL LOVE💖THE LORD & SERVE HIM. LOVE READING YOUR DAYS ON THE FARM! SWEET, PRECIOUS MEMORIES!!! THANK GOD WE RE-CONNECTED! ALWAYS, MARY ELLEN (WATERS) HERRIN …..ELLEN WATERS ON FACEBOOK

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