In about 1934 when my Dad was six years old, his father decided to buy a farm in Cataract, Wisconsin. He had three “strapping big boys,” so he figured that was the way to go.
They learned to milk cows, feed pigs and chickens, plow fields, make hay, plan, weed and harvest vegetables from a big garden. They were taught just about everything a good country kid needed to know about work and compassion for animals, people and the land. In the fall, they cut and delivered firewood for the people in town. On snowy days, the boys shoveled sidewalks and got enough money to but a huge jar of peanut butter to share with the little one. There were ten children in all, and that peanut butter tasted rally good with some of Grandma’s homemade bread and jam. Dad learned.
As the years rolled along, he went into the army to serve his country, but he never forgot his love of the farm. Whenever opportunity presented itself, you could find him out on the farm driving tractor or baling hay.
As much as Dad loved farming, he always had a higher calling, and that was to be a pastor. So after his time in the army was finished, he took schooling and became an ordained minister. But he never dreamed that in his very first church his “farm boy” skills would be called upon.
There was a young (inexperienced) couple who moved to the area and took over a beef farm. One day Bro. Brown called Dad all upset.
“Pastor, Pastor,” he said. “You have to come quick. Lucy is very sick, and I can’t get her to stop bawling.”
Now this couple was new to the congregation, and Dad knew they had a couple small children, so he assumed one of them was gravely ill. Dad quickly grabbed his hat and drove to the Browns’ house. Bro. Brown met Dad at the door but didn’t let him in.
Instead, he grabbed Dad’s arm and proceeded to drag him toward the field. Dad was confused until he heard a cow bawling and he saw “Lucy” laying on her side. Bro. Brown was still distraught and shouting: “Do something! Pray for her. She is going to die.”
Dad walked over and gave the cow a quick look over. Then he said, “No, Bro. Brown, she won’t die. But she is going to have a calf soon.” Dad stayed with Bro. Brown until after the blessed event.
This wasn’t the last time that Dad was called on to pray for animals or came across situations that took the caring touch only a farm kid would know how to handle. I once asked Dad if it was times like this that created the phrase “Holy cow.” He just smiled at me and said, “Maybe.”
After retiring from full-time ministry, Dad and Mom put a trailer on a small piece of land and started their “hobby” farm with one cow, one pig, a few chickens and a large vegetable garden.
I guess you can take the boy off the farm, but you truly can’t take the farm from his heart.