My Farm of Yesterday

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photo by Paula Sanger Violo

“Life is good when your best memories were made in the barn.” –Unattributed

My cousin posted this saying on Facebook recently and it got an immediate reaction from my sister and from me.

We know about barns. And farms. And memories. And a wonderful place to be a child.

The farm belonged to my paternal grandparents and Sangers had been on that land since the late 1700s.

The farm was a perfect place to ramble for hours, with no supervision, and the barn seems to have been the center of our activities.

I remember climbing a vertical ladder set into the wall, up into the haymow, and not being able to get down until my grandmother came from the house to help me.

I remember running away from home with a bandana tied to a stick, like I had seen on TV, and running as far as the milk house before I got hungry and went to the house for a sour cream cookie.

I remember swinging on a rope from one section of the haymow to another, above the head (and horns) of the bull tethered below.

I remember my sister singing and dancing for the milk cows, a captive audience, whose heads were held by stanchions until the milking was done.

I remember innumerable sleepovers in the haymow, with girl cousins, listening to the radio and talking about boys.

I remember waking up in the early morning of one of those sleepovers. The barn cat’s kittens were at that playful age where they demanded attention. One was batting at my face. The radio was on, “Hey, Jude” was playing, and dust motes of hay swirled in the early sun. And I knew life was good.

My memories aren’t momentous; they don’t make for dramatic story telling. But they make me.

The bluegrass band, The Gibson Brothers, grew up on a farm very near the Sanger farm. They, too, know about farms and memories and make the point better than I can:

They build them bigger now

They’ve got more land, they’ve got more cows,

Maybe they have found a better way.

It’s hard to say.

But I miss that old farm of yesterday.

 

I think memories make a man what he will always be,

And I’m not sure what I am trying to say.

But if there’s anything that I can add to this old world,

It’s thanks to that old farm of yesterday.

Farm of Yesterday

The farm is in sad shape these days–not in the family any longer, abandoned. But in my memories, and those of my sister and cousins, it’s still a magical place. Our farm of yesterday.

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photo by Paula Sanger Violo

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photo by Paula Sanger Violo

 

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41 thoughts on “My Farm of Yesterday

  1. Lovely story Kerry! I grew up on a farm myself and definitely share your memories and feelings. The farm of my youth is converted into a beautiful home for ‘city people’ so at least it is not abandoned and neglected. When I walk past it nowadays, I still ‘see’ the cows and the orchard;0) Thanks for sharing. hugs from Johanna

    • It’s so nice that your farm is still being cared for, in one form or another. I think I need to just avoid going past our old farm–it makes me sad. I’ll just visit it in my memories!

  2. Beautiful memories. As someone who grew up in the suburbs, I could only imagine what farm life was like by watching TV. I would have enjoyed a sleepover in that hay loft telling secrets with girlfriends.

  3. I love your farm of yesterday. It’s a joy to read of your memories and I bet those cows had the best milk for miles because of the singing of your sister. 🙂

    • We’ve teased my sister about that her whole life ! She had a fertile imagination, to say the least. I think that’s one benefit of being in the country, without a lot of kids our age–we made our own fun.

  4. And I bet that memory is triggered every time you hear Hey Jude? My brother once left home with a change of clothes and a can of baked beans…..he came back 10 minutes later because he had no can opener!….the stuff of life eh?! Thanks for sharing those memories.

    • Yes, Hey Jude will always make me think of kittens and the smell of hay–probably not what Lennon and McCartney had in mind! I love the little details of growing up–the running away, the coming home. The confidence of knowing there was a home to come home to.

  5. We drive by slowly frequently. Lee doesn’t say much…but I can sense his emotions. Even abandoned and deteriorated, it’s still beautiful. I
    t’s easy to imagine it’s once and former glory. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one of us Sanger’s could take it over, and give it the TLC it deserves.

    • It is still beautiful–a faded glory. The sentimental side of me absolutely wishes a Sanger would save it. The practical, hard-headed side remembers the remoteness of Rand Hill, and the winters up there, and thinks about the cost of restoring the old place. Sigh . . .

  6. Bliss. That saying is so true. I spent most of my childhood in tedious suburbia, but my best friend lived on a farm and we always had such fun there. That said, it’s a miracle that we both survived to adulthood, given some of the exploits we got up to.

    • When I was a kid, I thought suburbia would be so cool–friends close by and malls and places to hang out. All I knew came from TV, of course. I’m glad you had the farm experience–sort of the best of both worlds! And, yes, it’s a miracle we all survived . . .

  7. Great memories! I’m with all your other commenters. City life has much to recommend it, but I think a country childhood must be the best by far: all that freedom, fun, and minimal supervision.

    • I’ve always felt lucky to have grown up in a rural setting but I’m sure I’m missed out on some things as well–cities still can intimidate me and I may be a more solitary person because we simply didn’t have a lot of other people around. On the other hand, I can tell a Holstein from a Guernsey cow!

  8. What fabulous memories to have – I love the ending of the first part of this post – your memories may not be momentous ‘but they make me’. It is a tragedy of this age that these once generation rich properties now lie abandoned and ruined. I guess it makes the memories even more valuable though. Another great post 🙂

    • You’re right about the number of places abandoned. The farm right down the road from ours is also falling down and I see others all over our area. But people keep building new mini-mansions with no charm at all. Oh, well–I must sound like an old woman, lost in the past–not the way I want to think of myself at all!

      • You don’t at all sound like an old woman lost in the past! You sound like a woman full of gratitude for her primary experiences in a place that was once a home to generations of her family and which is now fallen before the ingratitude and indifference of a mindless society that puts profit before respect. Quite different!! Some of us have to care 🙂

  9. I am so sorry that your farm has fallen on hard times, your memories sound wonderful, so good for children to grow up around animals. There is far to much techy stuff and not enough outdoors for kids these days. thank you for sharing your lovely memories.

    • I love techy stuff as much as the next person but I agree that it would benefit all of us to get outside more, to ramble around and have adventures. And to build memories.

  10. This made me feel as if I’d been there with you, Kerry.
    I have my own very special memories of some time I spent in the Catskill Mountains.

    My only barn-specific memory, however, is of the time my two cousins and I were playing in the barn behind the church after an evening service. My aunt came and rounded us up and took us home.
    The next morning we learned that some of the neighbor girls had been playing with matches in the barn … after we’d left … and the barn was no more.
    Boy, were we glad that it had been them when it could have so easily been us instead.
    Yikes!

    • Yikes is right! You are so lucky not to have been there! We were taught very early that a barn was no place for a spark or a flame–we were scared witless about the possibility of fire. And we were very far, up a steep hill, from a volunteer-only fire station. Even as little kids we knew a fire would bring it all down . . .

  11. Oh, wonderful memories! Thank you for sharing a little bit of your childhood and farm life. I grew up in Los Angeles and wanted a cow but would have been content with a sheep and yes that would have been a seriously odd thing in my reality. I think I prefer yours!

  12. Love this post, you’re such a great storyteller! I remember going to a camp on a farm as a kid. I remember all the super fresh foods, lots of kittens, bunk beds and a pigs I could watch for what seemed to be hours.

  13. We didn’t have a barn so to speak, but when I was a kid we had a hayshed. My brothers and I would climb up onto the big stack of hay bales, where there was just enough room to lie on our backs under the ceiling, and I would tell them stories. I can smell the yellow hay now. (Yes, you can smell the yellow in hay.)
    In later years, I read ‘Gone with the Wind’ in 10 days over the school holidays while sitting on a huge hay bale.

    • Those are great memories! I can’t remember where I read Gone with the Wind. In the hayloft, I read mostly Teen Beat magazine (and, yes, I blush as I say that).

  14. Pingback: Loving Hands and A Birthday to Remember | Love Those "Hands at Home"

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