I’ve made some decisions I’m very proud of and perhaps the best one was giving my boys a country/farm experience when they were growing up.
My boys spent their youth outside running, playing up in the tree fort, climbing trees, chasing bullfrogs, taking care of animals, and helping with all of the farm chores. We didn’t have cable television, and it was before the Internet, but they got plenty of entertainment outside.
Our first summer on our little farm, I was determined to have a garden. Growing up in Michigan on a small farm made me long for my own garden. I found the perfect spot and bought an old rototiller. All four of us worked hard to get the soil ready and plot out the garden.
I kept a journal for my farm, complete with which seeds I purchased and when things were planted. Seeing the soil turned and ready for planting, I was proud of that little garden. But I soon learned Oregon is not Michigan.
Check the farmer’s almanac for Central Oregon and you’ll see the growing season is listed as 30 days. Yes, you read that right. It’s 30 days because Central Oregon is the High Desert. High meaning cold, desert meaning dry.
We managed to get a bumper crop of root vegetables, some lettuces, and sunflowers.
I decided to concentrate on improving our 15-acre field, and growing wild flowers. To this day, I love wildflowers and growing them was my favorite part of trying to coax something out of that dry soil.
Years of neglect had left the field in terrible shape. We found an old tractor and I spent days tilling the soil and pulling up rocks. When it was ready I sowed it with oats and peas, to give some nutrients back to the soil. It was a lot of work.
I loved every bit of it though. I learned what irrigation rites meant, how to use a weir and all about mainlines and pipes. All of which were new to me. And our boys learned it all too. They were always eager to help and I can honestly say I don’t remember them grumbling one bit.
Our second spring there we decided to get the boys involved with 4-H. I knew absolutely nothing about raising pigs but we set out to find the perfect piglets and learn how to care for them.
We found three cute little piglets, one for each of the boys to raise and sell at the fair, and one for our freezer. I’m not sure the boys fully grasped that part until the end of summer when they not only had to say goodbye to their pigs, which they named, but also to Samuel Sawdust, our hog.
I will never forget the look on my oldest son’s face when we had our first Sunday dinner with ‘Sam the Ham’ featured for the main course. He was visibly upset so I had a heart to heart with him. I told him it would be okay if he decided he didn’t want to eat meat, but if he did decide to he needed to understand that it didn’t originate from the supermarket.
The choice was up to him. I was proud of him for deciding that he did indeed like ham, but said we should give next year’s pig a different name.
My boys learned a lot of good things on that farm. Yeah, and a few that maybe they shouldn’t have, like fireball tennis, but all in all I’m proud of our days together on that little piece of land.