Growing Up on a Farm: Things That Give Moms Gray Hairs

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Growing up on the farm, our favorite place to play was in the hay barn.  When our dairy was first started, it was the site of our milking barn also.  The side room was the area where the cows where milked until the 1950’s when Dad built a new milking barn. The barn had a shed added to the side made from boards of Roscoe Turner’s hanger at Gusmus Field on what is now Lewis Street in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Mr. Turner was portrayed in the movie The Young Aviators, a movie about pilots who were flying for the British Air Force during WWI. He flew the plane with the lion on it. If you are visiting the Aeronautics Museum in Washington, D.C., look him up.   Dad used to tell the story of the whipping he got when he climbed into the plane while visiting his Grandpa Gusmus.

Family with Roscoe Turner’s plane

Aunt Mary and Rosemary Gusmus at Roscoe Turner’s plane

Back to the barn; it had a rail system in the top that was once used for hauling hay into the barn with mules. When the barn was empty we would hang onto the rope and swing from side to side or ride the rope down the rail from front to the back doing our best Johnny Weissmuller imitation.  When the barn was full of hay, we would climb to the top of the stack and open the back door and hang the rope out and play mountain climber down to the ground from about twenty feet up. 

Thinking back now I realize what danger we put ourselves into.  We could have fallen into a crack in the hay and suffocated or slipped off of the rope and fallen onto the rocks below and done some serious damage to ourselves.

 The shed part of the barn was used to keep the new born calves in after we took them away from their Moms after delivery.  One Guernsey became very mean after we took away her calf every year and would stand out side the barn chasing after anyone who came near her calf inside. When she had her calf it meant that we couldn’t play in the barn until she got over the separation.  We would sneak around from the back door of the milk barn through the chicken pen to the back of the barn.  We would hang out the windows teasing her until she’d get so mad that she would buck the barn door.  Well one day she caught us going from the chicken pen to the back door of the milk barn and had us penned up against the wall of the milk barn.  We started screaming until Dad saved us.  He made sure we were okay then he gave us the only whipping we’d ever gotten from him.   Mom gave us so many spankings for things we got into, I don’t remember any of them and the reason why, but I’ll always remember the only whipping Dad gave us. He always told Mom your kids did so and so, give them a spanking. The great old barn doesn’t exist now. The new owner of the farm took a bull dozer to it as it didn’t fit into his plans. The best picture I have of it in the background behind my Dad and cousin Pat.

Dad and Pat on horseback; barn in the background

The dogwoods are finishing blooming here and the iris and peonies are opening up.  I just love this time of year. You get up to a new plant in bloom and find something else blooming when you get home.

My 3 hooligan Border collies wear out the wireless fence collars fairly regularly.  When I have to buy a new one, Patches gets the new one as she is the one who is constantly testing it.  The collars vibrate 10 feet from the fence as a warning and will shock if they get closer.  She knows that if the collar doesn’t vibrate, it’s time to get out. I had bought some store brand 9 volt batteries & a couple of weeks ago put one in the new collar and one in Blackie’s collar. I noticed after a week that the low battery light on Blackie’s was blinking and the battery usually last three months.  Friday a week ago, my neighbor Jessica called saying that she had just put Patches back in the yard. We had a power outage that day and I thought maybe that’s what the problem was.  On the way home I bought new batteries just in case.  All weekend Patches acted like the fence was working so I didn’t change the batteries. Well actually I forgot to replace it.  Monday I get a call from Jessica again that she put Patches back in the yard again.  Apparently the battery is too weak to keep her in but strong enough to keep her out.  When I got home from work I tied her to the hitch on my truck and replaced the battery & tightened up the collar some as I noticed it was a little loose on her.  She won’t let me put the collar back on her if I don’t tie her up.  She knows what the collar is for.  Things were fine until this Thursday when I get a call that she’s out again. This time the routine was repeated for a trim in the area of the contacts.

 Oh we recently told Mom about the Tarzan thing in the old barn. Glad she didn’t know at the time what we were doing. We thought she was going to have a stroke.