My Beloved Daughter,
Your Great-Grandpa Wes was a farmer. The man was very mechanically inclined, but he WAS a farmer. Pure and simple. During the years when my dad was growing up, farming wasn’t the industrial thing that we have now. There was a reason that your paternal great-grandparents had such a large family. The extra hands were necessary.
By the time I came along, farming was already leaving the family farm for the farming corporation. So, I’m thankful that I spent my early childhood right up the road from your great-grandparents’ farm.
I saw things that even most other children of my own generation didn’t get to see. I had fresh chicken. Of course, I also was among the cousins who watched Grandpa Wes kill said chicken with his bare hands, not realizing that he nearly made all of us never want to eat poultry again.
I got to see Grandpa’s smokehouse, where he cured the meat from the pig into sausage and bacon. You haven’t truly tasted bacon until you’ve had it that fresh.
You might have seen a garden before. Grandpa’s filled a few acres. Vegetables were grown with real fertilizer (i.e. poop). Just so you know, when you see “organic” fruits and vegetables sold in a store, that’s what this is. No chemical fertilizers. They used manure. Yes, the food tasted good. But I sure HATED it when the wind blew just right during planting season in the outskirts of Van Buren, MO.
Then, there were the farmer’s auctions. Grandpa Chuck called them—simply—The Sale. “We’re going to ride with your Grandpa to The Sale,” he’d say.
Grandpa raised chickens (as noted before), but his big thing was pig farming. He bid on them at The Sale. I’ll admit, I was usually bored to tears when we were at the auction. I didn’t understand what was going on at the time. I knew better than to squirm, as it was expressly forbidden by Grandpa Chuck.
I remember a particular situation where your Great-Grandpa Wes noticed that I was bored and his playfulness came through. I remember looking up at him and he was staring at the rafters in the ceiling. I looked up and didn’t see anything. Grandpa Chuck looked up and, I’m sure, didn’t see anything.
Around us, people started looking up to figure out what was so interesting in the rafters. In the entire arena, a large crowd was staring upward.
Then, Grandpa Wes stopped looking upward and stared back at the stage with a grin. I remember asking him what he was looking at. He leaned over and said, “Nothing. I just wanted to see how many people I could get to look up there.”
Ah, those were the days.