Childhood Memories Of Growing Up On A Farm

   There are several of you readers who, just like me, grew up in rural Montgomery County in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. We all have special memories of when we were kids on the farm. As I stated in a previous column, farming today is an entirely different ballgame. Gone are the days when the husband farmed 160 acres and raised several types of livestock, while the wife managed the household and took care of the kids. Sadly, we will likely never see those days again. But when I think about those days when I was a farm boy, I still have images and thoughts that will always remain with me, such as . . .

  • The smell of bacon frying and coffee percolating when I came into the kitchen each morning
  • The multi-colored birds . . . barn swallows, blue jays, orioles, cardinals, hummingbirds, robins, and many others I saw every day
  • The sound of rain on our barn’s tin roof as I watched a storm from the haymow window . . . and I felt safe
  • The first taste of homemade ice cream on a hot summer day
  • Eating a tomato right off the vine in our family garden
  • The smell of fresh-plowed earth in the spring and the smell of new mown hay in summer
  • The joy of catching my first blue gill or “sunnie” at Horn’s gravel pit
  • The fun of exploring the woods…and also finding those first sponge mushrooms in the spring
  • The pride of making something from scrap wood in Dad’s toolshed
  • The cooling breeze as I rode on top a load of ear corn in the back of the old Dodge pickup as Dad headed to the elevator
  • The thrill of being able to drive the old Farmall H tractor for the first time
  • The fun of helping my neighbor collect honey from his beehives
  • The smell of Mom’s homemade peach, apple, and rhubarb pies
  • The old basketball goal with its torn and tattered net on the side of the dairy barn . . . and playing “horse” against my brother
  • The baseball diamond I fashioned by myself in the front pasture
  • Walking down the lane to wait for the bus on the first day of school
  • Riding my bike . . . and then my Cushman scooter . . . all over the countryside
  • My sister crying, as our family hid in the basement when a tornado struck . . . and then seeing the devastation when we came outside
  • Calling the cows in from the field each evening to be milked
  • Watching the miracle of birth when a cow had her calf
  • Finding our “barn cat” nursing her new litter of baby kittens . . . so tiny!
  • Helping catch chickens to be butchered . . . and then closing my eyes . . . I did not want to see what happened next!
  • The fun of building tunnels and “secret hideouts” with bales of straw
  • Jumping in a horse tank full of water to cool off on a hot summer day
  • Finding an Indian arrowhead in the “back twenty acres” after a downpour . . . Wow!
  • Riding a PTO-powered elevator to the top of a corn bin . . . scary!
  • Watching that big orange “harvest moon” coming over the horizon, and then laying in the yard, looking up at all of the stars . . . and knowing that God does exist and He will protect me
  • Sitting on top of the roof of our house and looking out over the fields at our neighbors’ homes . . . and then on July 4th seeing the fireworks at Milligan Park ten miles away!

   There is something special about growing up on a farm, and there are hundreds of other memories etched into my brain. But the one I remember most is . . . laying in tall grass on a hill in the field behind our house . . . and just looking up at the clouds on a beautiful fall afternoon. It felt as though I was in Heaven. Maybe I was . . .

-John “Butch” Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 32 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.