Hope you enjoy reading it to your kids, too. Pictured above is our very first homestead. Mark is working with Miles when he was only two years old.
Home in the Country
Not so long ago, and not really far from here, there was a little family. A daddy, a mamma, a little boy named Miles, a baby girl named Molly and a fluffy Airedale named Jibity. They were simple folk, the kind that were practical in a lot of ways. Being as young and inexperienced in the ways of the land, the little family only dreamed of owning their own little farm in the country. Out on the land where they could grow a big garden, where the kids could run and play, and perhaps have some chickens to lay eggs. At the moment they were living in town. They lived in a regular small town neighborhood, with a regular house. There were cars zipping past and motorcycles revving their growling motors. Peaceful it was not.
Daddy worked while Mamma stayed home, caring for the youngsters. She would never dare let Miles run out the door for fear he would dash right for the road and get hit by a car. So, mamma would bring the children and the dog out to their fenced in yard to play where they were safe. She dreamed of a day where their children could run around freely and the only noise they could hear was the rustling of the wind in the tree tops, the soft songs of birds, and the giggles of her lively children at play.
One day Daddy came home from work and said he saw a little farm for sale on three acres of land. Excitedly, they jumped into the truck and off they went to see this new place. Oh, it took a lot of imagination for the little family to see what it could be. The farm was dirty and messy and falling all apart. It was not a dream, but there was a twinkle in Daddy’s eyes, and a smile on Mamma’s face, for they new what they could make it. They could make it perfect. Of course that would take some determination and that is just what this family had.
First things first. The house in town was sold and the family packed up their things and moved to Nana and Bumpa’s house while Daddy tore into that mess of a house. It was winter and that’s when Daddy would have less work anyhow, so he was there all the time. He would take his little boy with him and they would pound out the walls and tear off the carpets. There was dust and grime on every surface, plaster pieces, and wood chips scattered all about.
One cold evening, Mamma came to see how things were shaping up. She waddled into the main room with Molly at her hip. You see, Mamma was going to have a new baby soon. She climbed up the staircase to see the upstairs rooms. Mamma smiled with excitement thinking about what room would be Miles’s, which one was Molly’s, and the other one would be for them and the new baby very soon. At this time, you could see clear through because Daddy and Miles took out all the walls and windows.
“Mamma, I’m a big helper. I work hard,” Miles said proudly as he started pounding another crooked nail into a board laying across the floor.
“I’m sure glad Daddy has you. This place is a mess, he needs a good helper like you,” Mamma said as she watched the boy hit his finger with a swat of the hammer and shake his hand like it didn’t hurt that much. She smiled with pride, while Molly sucked her thumb and held tightly to her hip. Molly wasn’t walking yet, so Mamma would not dare put her on that dirty floor.
Just as Mamma had finished looking and started to carefully walk down the staircase, her foot slipped on a chunk of plaster and down she went, baby and all. Molly was still at her hip, so when Daddy heard that loud bang and scream, he dashed down to help them back up. As he tried to pick Molly up, he noticed her leg was broken in half! Mamma limped out of the house, while Daddy carried the broken child. They drove straight to the hospital.
Mamma never left the side of her small girl, as she prayed for healing or easing of pain. By morning, little Molly girl was put in a body cast from chest to toe. No more visits to that farm for Mamma. They were back at Nana and Bumpa’s until the baby was born. Good thing Nana was a nurse, for she cared for Mamma who was laid up from the fall and for Molly who was in the body cast. Not too much later, Megan became the newest member of the family. Molly was out of that cast and already begging to hold her new baby sister.
“Baby! Baby!” Was all Molly could say as she poked her finger into her eye or nose. Poor Megan would cry.
Soon the upstairs was made ready for their homecoming. There was a bathroom with an old claw foot tub, and three bedrooms. What more did they need? Well, there was no kitchen, that would be something needed along the way, but to this little family, everything was perfect. Mamma happily cooked meals in the same room that Molly slept, on electric skillets and a microwave oven. She boiled water in a fryer, and washed dishes in the same tub they all bathed in. The nights were long, as Megan howled and screamed. During the day, Molly would push the baby in a doll stroller around the upstairs bedrooms. Back and forth, and back and forth.
Outside the snow covered all the dirt, garbage, and rubble so it was starting to look somewhat like a dream. The homestead came with fifteen geese, eighteen guinea fowl, twenty-five ducks, eight turkeys, ten cats, two rabbits, and one black hen.
“They pecked me in the eye!” Cried Miles. “Those naughty turkeys!”
“Let me see,” Mamma said as she looked around his normal looking eye. “Oh, my. This is serious. What are we to do?”
“We gotta shoot them turkeys, that’s what we gotta do!” Miles said excitedly.
“Really? Oh, well, I guess your right.” Mamma said because she new already that these animals were not friendly and somehow they had to be dealt with. Now this was a whole new adventure for this family. They never killed livestock before so they were not too sure how to go about it.
Okay, first off, the geese were much more a problem than the ducks or turkeys. Those geese were bossy and temperamental. Bumpa was more experienced in the way of birds so Daddy let Bumpa catch the sassy geese. They cornered them into the top part of the barn so they could not escape. Daddy used his body as a road block so they could not flee out of the barndoor. Bumpa walked toward, what he thought was a cowering bunch of birds, when all at once the entire group turned toward him and started to beat him with their wings. They flapped their wings so much that they threw his glasses clear across the barn. Daddy looked on in sheer disbelief.
“Let me at em!” Cried Miles.
“Get back, little one. Bumpa knows what to do,” Daddy laughed as he saw the poor man wrestle with fifteen angry geese that were determined to win. All at once, Bumpa started grabbing the bold birds by the neck. He got them where they could not defend. Daddy grabbed the ornery geese from Bumpa and put them into the back of the truck one by one. They shipped them out to the local butcher, who wrapped them in nice little packages for the family to store in the freezer. Mamma never made goose before, but figured it was close to chicken, and that was easy, so she put it in the roasting pan one day.
“This tastes like roast beef,” said Mamma while she pulled another piece off the cooked goose.
“Just a little greasy,” Daddy exclaimed, but the family enjoyed the new experience of roasted goose. Miles couldn’t stop eating it because he knew it was our own goose, but deep down he was still yearning to see Daddy shoot those turkeys.
The next thing that had to go was the ducks because they were domesticated, which is a big word that means they have to be fed. When you have twenty-five ducks lined up at the back door looking for food besides the ten whining cats, it becomes a big problem when a person tries to make an escape to the outdoors. You get mobbed by a whole group of animals that are hungry and when you are holding small children like this family was, it is no small job. Mamma would dread leaving the home at times for fear of facing that challenge. So, Mamma called a friend who had a husband who was a duck hunter. He came out with his big truck and his big gun. This was an exciting situation for Miles. He got his outdoor gear on and was ready for the hunt to begin. Blast, bam, pop, bang! Soon there was silence and off went the guy in his truck filled with 25 ducks.
No sooner did the truck disappear between the forest trees, that Miles was already wishing for more.
“Daddy, can you get your gun? We have five more to shoot. Those turkeys will get away if we don’t get em now!” Miles stammered with thrill.
“I think we had enough shooting for one day,” replied Daddy while they saw the whole flock of guinea hens scramble past with their loud shrieks and cackles. Nothing could be louder than that, but the guineas are useful. They feed on ticks and other bugs.
Daddy started to saw some boards for the house when his hand got pulled into the blade. Off went two of his finger tips, so on he drove to the hospital. Now poor Daddy was laid up and could do no more fixing on the house. The little family nestled into the upstairs home a few weeks that winter waiting for the bandages to come off. No more sounds of pounding nails or sawing boards.
They enjoyed looking out the window to the snow covered ground and seeing the migration of the sand hill crane. Sometimes the big birds would peck around in the field looking for a morsel of corn, but when they took off from the ground, it was a sight to see. The wing span was about six feet long and their call was just so beautiful. Sand Hill Cranes migrate to that country every year to have their young. Now that the guineas were nesting and spring was just around the corner, the little family waited for new adventure. Most of all they enjoyed the smell of the old wood burning stove that heated the little farm house all winter long. It was cozy and quaint in the upstairs rooms. They had so much to be thankful for. A new home in the country and a new baby.