I started a new job last week, and I have to say, I’m quite enjoying it. The people are great, there’s lots of work to keep my mind and fingers busy, and I’m getting a steady paycheck again.
Life is good.
As always when I begin working at a new place, everyone wants to know me. Where did I grow up? Who is my family? Where did I go to school?
Naturally, stories of my childhood growing up on a farm came up. Below is a drawing of the farm in Lakefield, Ontario where I lived for the first twenty years of my life, created by my talented brother in law, Nick.
Our fifteen room monstrosity of a drafty house is on the left. When the wind blew, the carpet in the living room would lift up. Yep, not kidding. And being on a hill, the wind blew OFTEN. Brrr. The white building in the middle is where I worked with Dad on all sorts of machinery. The rebuilt version after the original one burned to the ground when I was ten. To the right of that was the gas house, and right of that is the small chicken coop where we raised free-range hens every year.
As I told my stories, I realized how dangerous that life was, yet we never really considered it at the time, it was just normal. I thought I’d spend the next few weeks sharing a few of my craziest stories with you. And yes, they are all true.
One of the jobs I most hated was picking stones. Yep, it’s just what it sounds like. After a plow turned up the soil, we went along and picked up all of the rocks big enough to damage the other machinery used before seeding. Exciting, right? And back breaking.
I was lucky, though, because I was so much younger than my siblings, I got the privileged of driving the tractor pulling the wagon where we loaded the stones on to. I remember a story my Dad told me about when I was four that raises the hair on the back of my neck when I picture having that much trust in my daughter. Yeah, so not happening.
It was just him and me that day, so we had no wagon. I steered the old, red model ‘C’ tractor we often used for smaller jobs with a hydraulic bucket on the front, while he loaded the rocks in by hand. Because of my short height and light weight, I had to stand on the clutch and pull down on the steering wheel in order to shift gears. My Dad always gives a sheepish laugh when he says he just looked up from the stone he was prying on, and found me barreling across the field away from him. He thought for sure I’d lost control and would run it into the stone fence. He ran after me, but knew he’d never catch me in time.
Apparently I’d watched him dump the stones in the fence and had paid attention to how he did it, because he said I stopped the tractor in just the right place, raised the bucket, and dumped it just as he had. When I backed up the tractor and turned around, he said he was just standing there gaping at me thinking he might just have a heart attack right there.
I worry enough when my daughter crosses a country road while holding my hand and she’s almost six! I can’t imagine sending her off on a giant death on wheels machine. But that was normal for me as a kid, as it is with most farm families. I was taught to respect the animals and the equipment, and I learned fast. It still shocks me that all five of us kids survived growing up in a continuous hazard zone. Though it was a hard life, it was also a good life.
Stop back next week for my adventures in the silo.
There’s also a terrific giveaway going on at J. Taylor Publishing’s blog today to celebrate my upcoming release, Touch of Frost. Click here to check it out.
Coming February 1