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by Milly Geisler
If I were to count my blessings, name them one by one, ranking high on the list would be the gift of growing up on a small mid-western farm during the first half of the twentieth century.
Farming in those days was a mode of living--a way of life. Farm families, committed to their life on the land, enjoyed a special relationship with the earth--a relationship that shaped their way of thinking and molded their pattern of living. They lived in harmony with nature and took pride in being trustees of the land. I do not care to live long enough to see this attitude toward farm life abandoned.
The farm family was a cooperative of sorts, sharing a unique working agreement. Dad was first in command with Mom as his able assistant. Completing the co-op were sons and daughters, Rover and Tabby, horses and cows, pigs and chickens, all joined together, each contributing his share to make their little world relatively independent and self-sufficient.
Yesterday's farmer was his own tool maker, mechanic, veterinarian, wood-chopper, weather-forecaster, speculator and best of all, his own Boss.
His equipment consisted of horse-drawn plows, harrows, planters, mowers and binders and hand-held axes, saws, scythes and shucking pegs. His horsepower was not equipped with headlights so his field hours began at dawn and ended at dark. He practiced crop rotation and knew the value of legumes. His fertilizer came from the spring cleaning of the barns and was applied to the ground with a manure spreader.
A good farmer could break a colt to harness without breaking his spirit. Making friends with the animals was as important as making friends of his neighbors.
His input was hard labor and his output was food for his family and feed for his livestock. Like magic, the DeLaval separator poured thick yellow cream into five gallon cans and the Leghorn hens filled the nests with eggs to be packed into thirty dozen cases. Hauled to the nearby produce store, these products provided cash flow to buy the necessary staples to stock the pantry shelves. Items such as flour, sugar, oatmeal, cocoa, flavorings and seasonings were needed to turn the homegrown fruits and vegetables into appetizing dishes. Any extra cash from the produce paid for clothing and other essentials.
The farmer and his wife delegated chores to the youngsters, knowing that these responsibilities were character builders. It was pump water, carry wood, feed the pigs and chickens, gather eggs, hoe the garden and pick vegetables, pick berries, mow the yard, and fetch the cows (usually from the far corner of the pasture) at milking time. Inside chores included helping with the cooking and canning, cleaning and laundry, ironing and mending.
Nature passed by, sometimes gently, often harshly, season after season, dictating the work to be done. Springtime meant working the soil and putting the seeds in the ground. Summer called for cultivating, fighting weeds, and filling the barns with hay. Work reached its peak in July with the cutting of the wheat and oats. Watching the bundles of wheat being stacked into neat shocks, row by row across the field until the last bundle was tossed on as a protective cap, was an unforgettable experience. Excitement filled the air as the crew arrived and set up the big machine for threshing day. Bundles of grain were hauled from the fields on flat rack wagons and pitched into the hungry machine. The grain went into wagons to be scooped by hand into granaries and the straw was blown into carefully contoured stacks. These stacks became mysterious playhouses for the kids and shelter from stormy winds for the animals.
At noon, a rural banquet, a meal that took hours of preparation, was served to the tired and hungry crowd. Roast beef, ham, vegetables, salads, home-baked pies, cakes and cookies loaded the tables. Not only were the workers nourished and refreshed, but also given time to visit and catch up on the latest news.
Wheat was drilled in the fall and on frosty October mornings the farmer headed his team and wagon to the cornfield. Expert use of the shucking peg was somewhat of a competitive art and there were undeclared contests as to which man could fill a wagon in the shortest time.
Winter days found the farmer in the woods, chopping down trees which were sawed and split into firewood for the stoves. Always there was the care of the animals, repair of harness, wagons and machinery, fence building and upkeep of buildings.
Creativity, although not a commonly used word in those days, played an important role in early American farm life. Clothing, rugs, curtains, quilts and comforters, and home decorations were homespun and hand-sewn. Many toys and some pieces of furniture were hand crafted. Recreation was self-designed and self-directed to suit the season: mushroom and wild flower hunts in the spring; ball games, wading, swimming, fishing and picnics in the summer; hay-rides and barn-dances in the fall; sledding and ice skating in the winter. Holidays were observed with appropriate celebrations, some planned with great imagination.
The farmer of bygone days did not get his know-how from textbooks or seminars. Rather he relied on experience and experiments. He was often guided by intuition and traditional practices handed down from the previous generation. An old adage told him if he planted his corn when the oak leaves were the size of squirrel's ears he could count on it being knee high by the Fourth of July. Upturned maple leaves, red sky in the morning and the melancholy call of the rain crow meant rain was on the way. Sometimes he consulted the Farmers Almanac and occasionally he could feel a change of the weather in his bones. He learned many lessons of life from the land and its creatures and had faith in the natural order of things.
Times and life styles have changed dramatically and the modern farmer has kept pace with the times. Of necessity he must have some knowledge of many areas: chemistry, agronomy, accounting, and complicated mechanization. He is still the eternal optimist with an amazing capacity for speculation. He has no less love for the land and no less respect for nature than did his forefathers. Yesterday's farmer, who can watch with awe, appreciation and acceptance as a duplication of his own best effort is transformed into something undreamed of in his day, is a man of peace. He knows that the land is not ours. We come from it, we care for and conserve it, we go back to it. It is the beginning and the end.
Man has a kinship with the land but the land belongs to the Lord. His favor rests gently on the caretakers of His Creation.
Write Milly and let her know your thoughts on her story!
My name is Milly Geisler and I live in west centralIllinois. I am a retired farm wife in my eighties so I have lived through many changes in farming, the most dramatic one being the ability to harvest 220 bushels of corn per acre. I love to write and have had another story or two on Heart Touchers.______________________________________
Creation Q & A
Q: If mountain climbers need oxygen tanks to climb Mt. Everest, how was Noah able to breathe if his Ark floated above the highest mountains?
A: There are a number of aspects that need to be considered. First, mountains like Mt. Everest were not necessarily the height they were during the time of the Flood. In fact, the earth's highest mountains have fossils of sea creatures at their tops, showing they were once under the sea. Either the sea rose to cover the mountains, or the mountains were once under the sea and have risen out of the sea--or both things occurred.
Second, measurements indicate that Mt. Everest is currently rising at six inches per year. This movement was probably much greater in the past--particularly at the end of the Flood--so its formation can easily be explained from the time of the Flood.
Third, as the water rose during the Flood, the atmosphere would have risen as well. The difference in pressure for Noah's family would have been equivalent to standing on top of a 100 foot-high building.
Skeptics try to discredit Noah's Flood, so it's so important to know how to defend its record in Genesis.
This new additio to our web site will give you an article on the leading news in the Creation/Evolution controversy each day.
This section also includes a rotating Question and Answer feature and a weekly Creation Comic strip from the people at AnswersInGenesis.org
Be sure to come back and visit each day for an informative article that will help you keep up to date on the latest news in this controversial area!
Thought For The Day
Inspired Audio is a brand new offshoot of HeartTouchers.com. Every week we will offer a different audio message that you can listen to right on your comput as you are surfing the net or just getting things done around the house. Be sure to come back and visit each week!
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"I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the beautiful video you made for me! It was so special to see both of my parents in tears as they watched their children grow up in pictures before their eyes! I loved the way you made Estania's part set aside from the rest--that was the part that really got them! The music was beautiful. My mom kept blubbering, "What song is that?" I don't know how you did such a beautiful job with the video in such a short time. I really appreciate your doing it so quickly. You have a wonderful gift, and I thank God that you are using it to create such sentimental memories. I hope that I can find my niche like that in an area that I love. Your video gave us one of our most lasting Christmas memories! I hope yours was filled with moments to be treasured forever!"
Let me make you a video from your photos!
Do you feel as if life has no meaning for you?