First Spring on the Homestead
Soon enough, Daddy was back to work on the old house, with Miles at his side. Pounding and sawing and more dust. When the drywall started to go in, the dust covered the entire second floor and Mamma was not in the least bit happy. The children had fun drawing pictures with their fingers in the dust on the floor.
“Molly, look! I drew a dinosaur,” Miles yelled, as Mamma rolled her eyes thinking that is just what she wanted, enough dust to do an art lesson on the floor. But sure enough, since Mamma is practical, she started to give that art lesson. Mamma was actually a real artist, so she sat down on the floor as her skirt got covered in white dust and began to draw.
“Here is a sand hill crane and watch, here is one flying,” Mamma said in a happy tone. The children watched on with smiles as the floor shook with every pound of the hammer causing the dust to swirl. That little family always made the most out of every situation.
One glorious day, Daddy yelled upstairs and said, “Everyone come! I have a surprise for you.” Off they all went down the staircase. Mamma fell to her knees and started to cry as she watched Daddy turn the water on in the new kitchen sink.
“My very own kitchen! Thank you Lord! Thank you my dear husband! What a special day it is!” Mamma yelled as she twirled and skipped across the new kitchen floor. She imagined the bread that would be baked in the oven that would soon go in that space between the cupboards. She dreamed of the day she could wash dishes in a real sink, for her back was stricken with pain from bending over the claw foot tub to wash the dishes for so long.
“Mamma, I could help you bake!” Miles jumped for joy. Daddy just smiled a very long time until he opened his mouth, “Well, it is not finished yet...”
“But that’s okay, it won’t be long now,” Mamma said with anticipation.
It was not long before the entire first floor was ready for furniture and for family dinners around the table, what a blessing. Just in time for planning their first garden. Daddy got a rotor tiller and broke the ground out back of the kitchen window. He toiled and toiled until the ground was made ready for seed. Oh, this was a great big garden. It was no small job for this little family. There were rows and rows of green beans, green peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, zucchini, and beets. Broccoli, cauliflower, squash, pumpkins, and more. All planted in the rich black soil. Daddy picked that spot because the farmer before had his cows out there for years, so the soil was good and rich. When ever planning a garden, you want to pick the spot that would have the most nutrients in the soil. The blacker the soil, the richer the nutrients will be.
In the meantime, life was springing up all around and messes were unveiled. There was insulation and boards and glass and nails everywhere in sight. It was no place for a child to run and play, but since they had no where else to go, the children found their way around the rubble. They found the kittens that were just born right outside the back door under some boards and insulation.
“Spuk, spuk-ee,” Molly said while she squeezed the little kitten that she claimed for her own. It was a tabby kitten covered in grey and white stripes. Molly walked around everywhere that spring with that kitty hanging down from her tiny elbow.
Miles grabbed the little orange kitten with force, saying, “Butterscotch is my kitty. He likes to go hunting with me.” And off he went with his toy gun, straw hat, and kitty on his shoulder. He started hiding around the corner of the barn spying out those turkeys. Miles was bound and determined that those turkeys had to go. The day finally came where Daddy got his gun out and followed the big white turkey tom. Bang! Miles ran over to the big hill of white feathers, and poked it with his toy gun.
“Yup! He’s dead, Daddy,” Miles said with a proud look on his face. The two of them dragged that forty pound monster of a turkey to the shed where they tried to figure out what to do next. Bumpa was a phone call away, so he and Nana stopped out to help. Soon enough, the group managed to skin him out and cut the meat so it could run through the old metal hand crank grinder. After Daddy ground and ground and ground and ground some more, the meat was stuffed into freezer bags and stacked into the freezer. Now, since the tom was gone, the four female turkeys had no protection. One by one, the coyotes came for them.
The early mornings were rude as ever before, as the guineas would shriek across the front of the house under the window where Mamma and Daddy slept. Sleep was precious to a Mamma who was up during the night with a crying baby, and rude alarms are of no appreciation even if they eat ticks. So out Daddy went to see what he could do. Miles was right along side as usual. Oh, but they had a whole bunch of babies now that scurried close to the flock. They scared the flock back to the woods and over a fence to a neighbors land. Daddy had already called the neighbor, Farmer Phil. Farmer Phil was more than happy to take the tick eating fowl, since he was nestled into the forest where ticks were in no short supply. The guineas never came back since they knew that they were well fed.
Later that spring, they met another neighbor who gave them a little banty rooster. Mamma was so pleased. For now, she thought, that dream of having chickens that laid eggs would soon be a reality. Well, they only had one black hen, so little did they know, that one hen would only provide, at most, one egg per day. That would not be enough to feed this growing family, but it was a very fun prospect.
One early morning as Miles was out checking the barn for adventure, he found a special surprise. His legs could not run any faster as he dashed into the house, mud and all.
“Mamma, Mamma, you have to see...” Miles stammered with excitement. “The chicken...” taking breaths in between, “laid eggs!!!!”
So off the group ran to the barn. Jibity galloped not so far behind. She was a faithful dog, and always wanted to be a part of everything going on. Mamma was running ahead of them all since it was the moment she had been waiting for her whole life long. She rushed into the messy barn and Miles pointed out the exact spot. Jibity put her nose up to the edge, sniffing and sniffing. It was an old box filled with about twenty eggs in a nest.
“Oh, we shall have eggs for breakfast today!” Mamma shouted. Miles jumped up and down a few times and screeched with joy.
“See, see!” Molly said, pulling at her Mamma’s skirt. So, up Mamma lifted her to peek into the box.
Carefully, Mamma lifted out four eggs into her apron and gently carried them to the house. As she warmed up the frying pan on her new stove, the kids slid two chairs on either side of her so they could watch her cook those eggs. Mamma, swirling with thrill, started to tap the egg on the counter. Tap, tap, tap. She carefully held the egg above the pan while the children moved in a little closer. The table was set and the children were hungry. Megan was sitting in the infant see, looking around the room. Mamma put a little butter in the pan in preparation. Miles and Molly still leaned in an inch closer waiting to see what a real farm fresh egg looks like. Carefully, she pressed her fingernails into the shell, and opened ever so slowly. Plap! Out came a fully formed, black chick onto the frying pan. They all gasped in disbelief.
“That’s what a real farm fresh egg looks like?” Miles asked in wonderment. “Well, I’m not eating it!” He said with his face snarled up.
“Baby chick!” Molly squealed in amazement.
“Well, kids, this is terrible. I think I ruined breakfast today. This poor chick!” Mamma said as she lifted the lifeless creature from the pan and turned the burner off. They returned the other eggs to the nest and hoped they would hatch soon. That morning they ate some oatmeal because there were no farm fresh eggs to eat, but they learned something about chickens. Chickens lay one egg every day, and if you have a rooster, those eggs will get fertilized and can grow into chicks if you leave her set on them. After twenty-eight days, the eggs will hatch one by one.
The first spring on the homestead was filled with new life and new adventure. The most exciting thing of all was when the chicks finally hatched out and the children could hear the peeping and see the little black puff balls follow their mother hen all over the barn yard.