When I was old enough, I would go to work on my Uncle Harry’s farm during the summer. My Uncle Harry raised beef cattle, as well as other animals that produced fresh food for the farm or helped protect the farm (goats, chickens, dogs, barn cats). I loved going to the farm and working – I’d stay there from the time school got out in the spring to when school started back up in the fall. There are many stories and memories of summers on the farm. This was during the time before air conditioning and modern technology
My cousin John (Moore) and I were chased up a tree by cows one time. The cows thought we had sugar cubes in our brown paper bags we had packed our lunches in. We had no idea that Uncle Harry would take sugar out to the cows in BROWN PAPER BAGS!!! Uncle Harry eventually found us up in the tree.
I remember getting up in the middle of the night on occasion, to get the bull that had escaped from his pen. It had gone out into the middle of the road, going after the female cows that were in heat. We’d hear a car squealing wheels and have to go out and round it up.
Uncle Harry had this one bull, at one point, that was really, really mean. When it came time for the family reunion, Uncle Harry would have to chain him to the floor – with a short chain that was attached to his nose ring on one end and a ring embedded in the concrete. The chain was probably about a foot long! Uncle Harry had to do this to protect his family. He was the only one that could handle that particular bull. This was in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s – as Holly remembers being told not to go out in the field….AFTER already adventuring out there!
Needless to say, I had a few misshapes. I guess that comes with the territory. I got three of my fingers bruised up when disking the raspberry field. (This is a frame that is drug behind the tractor, with disks set at an angle so the dirt can be dug up easier.) I was standing on the back of the tractor to give it more weight and to also dislodge anything that might get stuck. Well, a stone fell down between the disks. I got my fingers stuck between the stone and the disk when trying to clear it. Uncle Harry wouldn’t let me do anything at this point, against my will. They were digging a septic tank at this time and I wasn’t allowed to help after I had hurt my fingers. I drilled holes in my fingernails to relieve the pressure – with a pocket knife!
I also remember getting zapped by the electric fence. I had been up in the field shooting groundhogs with John (Moore). When we came back, we decided to use the tunnel that ran under Hyndman Road instead of walking across the highway. This tunnel allowed easier access for the cows – or humans – to go back and forth from field to barn without having to cross over the highway. We had to cross the stream to get back to the farm house. Well, I slipped and my rifle landed on the electric fence. I got a few shocks before I could get myself situated. I guess it’s a good thing that Uncle Harry didn’t set the voltage so high as to do any serious damage! Most farmers don’t, setting the voltage just high enough to keep the animals in.
I would also go and help Aunt Anna (Dickson) at the farm her and Bob owned in Altoona. I’d help with the yard work, keeping an eye on the boys (John and Vance), and anything else that might need to be done. I remember helping clean the farm up before the family reunion, when it was held at their farm instead of Little Brook.
After Uncle Harry died (1979), the family reunions were held at the Grange less than a mile away. Supposedly, this is where my mother, her sisters and brother, went to school. Even though the reunions were held at the grange, my wife, two daughters and I would camp in the hollow at Little Brook Farm for a couple more years.
When my brothers and I were teenagers, we were plagued with eye problems. This is the easiest way to put it, at this point. It was probably in the early 50’s when the problems started.
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To read part two of My Dad’s Story, click here
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“The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity.” ~ Douglas Horton
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