It’s been an interesting time trying to balance everything lately, but is there such a thing as balance? Who knows….but what I do know, is recently I took some “down time” (hence the lack of blog posts.. womp..womp) and reflected on my life and what areas need restored focus. It’s amazing how this type of reflection takes you back to childhood and the memories or experiences from that time. Can you recall your childhood joys? Memories with your siblings out in the park? Trips to the local zoo? What did you love doing then, and for some reason, you stopped doing now?
I grew up being outdoors and had lots of experiences that birthed my love for the country lifestyle. I lived in the northern parts of Toronto, but visiting my family in south Trinidad exposed me to things like shelling peas and picking sorrel. Keeping us connected to the land, knowing where food comes from and spending family time is important to me, so I’m happy to say the tradition of growing up ‘outside’ continued for my nieces. I sat down with one niece and asked her to share memories of growing up as a kid on the farm her family is blessed to have. She’s a professional author in the making and has completed at least 1 full novel by her tender age of 20, so it’s an honour to have her pen some words for us – I hope you enjoy!
FARM GIRL MEMORIES : Guest Blogger, Justine Russell
One day my Dad told my sisters and I, that when he was a kid living on his family farm, his Mom would call up only once in the mornings to wake everyone up. After that, if my Dad and his seven brothers and sisters weren’t downstairs, one of them was getting a bucket of water to the face. The rest would just have to scramble out of bed before she could fill another one. I like that story, but I’m glad my Dad never used the bucket on me when I was at the farm.
When I was a kid, my family and I went there to spend the summer with our grandparents. Dad wanted us to experience life the way he had when he was our age, and so we were given what I’ve come to call: “the full farm girl experience.” Dad went out at the beginning of the summer, and bought twenty chicks, two baby goats, and a cart-full of vegetable seeds for us to be responsible for.
Every week my sisters (Rachael and Simone) and I would rotate the duties connected to the animals, while we all helped out with the crops. We rotated shifts between chickens and goats, with two of us on chickens, and one of us on goats.
In the later weeks of the summer, when the chickens were “maturing,” some of the roosters would try crowing in the early morning. You may very well be imagining two little girls walking down in the pre-dawn light towards the sound of majestic crowing roosters. Unfortunately, in all honesty, I remember the “crowing” as something Rachael and I thought was the sound of one of the chickens choking on something. It was not pleasant, and I suspect was the equivalent to a prepubescent boy’s voice cracking in elementary school.
The chicks were cute in the beginning, and we would set the seed on the ground for them while we took their water jugs and filled them with the hose. But before long the chickens got bigger, and greedier. It was less a casual walk through the coop and spreading the seed with our hands, as it was a mad rush to get to the feeding troughs before the stupid chickens could mob at our feet.
The goats, however, were a much more enjoyable chore.
Whoever had the goats for that week was fortunate indeed. She would skip down to the barn doors, probably humming a happy tune, and watch with gleeful eyes, her sisters practically army-crawl to the chicken coop to avoid detection. The goats were Laddy and Teddy.
Laddy had his ears constantly pointed up, and was brash and playful, always jumping around and headbutting whatever was closest, including us. But he never hurt us. Teddy however, Teddy hurt us badly. His ears were always drooped down the sides of his head, and he would cry constantly, hour after hour, unless some human person was with him. I’d wrap my arms around his neck and hug him, telling him everything was alright, and I was always going to be with him. Oh, what an incredible lie that was. Teddy was certainly not spared in the harvest. But he lived a good life, as did his brother.
The goats had their feeding trough, I would fill it, and then wrap ropes around their necks while they were occupied eating the dried corn feed. After they were finished, they followed like obedient little dogs out of the barn, down the ramp, and into the fields.
It was picture perfect. Just a little Caribbean girl with two goats on either side of her— one sprightly and one bashful— looking up at the rising sun and being so, so thankful that it wasn’t her week to be with the stupid chickens.
~ JR ~
**THANKS to Justine for sharing her memories. Experiences in childhood help shape who we are, so I hope you to take a look at local food & farming adventures for your own kids…and of course, yourself! Reconnect with your own outdoor experiences or create new ones! Breathe in some crisp fresh air and pet some barnyard animals, even if you look like this, while doing it! Lol
Until next time….