The sun has not yet risen, slowly little people tumble out of bed for the morning Angelus bell has rung. Its time for morning prayers, and its time to start the day off with God. The rain is tumbling down upon the farmhouse and barn as the sun starts to rise and reveal the day. Fog crowds around the river bend and crawls up the mountain side. The students have dressed and begun their daily studies.
As daylight fully engulfs the farm, barn chores begin. Chickens are given their daily rations to supplement their green pasture and supply of bugs and worms. The waterers are filled and cleaned. There is fresh hay and alfalfa for the goat and the lamb. Next its time for the little people to eat. Fresh sourdough toast, slathered with butter and a kefir smoothie made with fresh, raw, cows milk from the family dairy farm across the valley. The fire crackles in the wood stove as learning commences again. Life is good down on the farm.
Mornings like this are a blessing though life n the farm isn't always so picturesque. There is a barnful of manure and muck to clean out. Wood has to be cut and dried, requiring though ahead of time in regards to heating the farmhouse. Wood burning fires must be made every morning and evening in order to keep the house warm. Bread is baked every day or every-other day to ensure optimal freshness and nutrition. Rain and wet sometimes keep us indoors more often than we would will but God is good in all of His ways!
Those who don't know our little family might think it has always been this way. Yet quite the opposite is true. Why do we want to live the farm life? Why are we trying to grow all of our own food? Why do we choose to work when many of these things could be handled by a grocery store and the electric company?
When this city girl turned farmer's wife was younger I was blessed with wonderful grandparents on both sides of our family. I think that the love of grandparents for their grandchildren was really a reciprocal thing. The wisdom one gains by the time they are grandparents seems even more vast when there are generations between you. There always was (and still is) an awe of the wisdom surrounding my grandparents. On the maternal side Grandpa was/is a humble, hard-working and devoted family man. Grandma full of artistic inspiration, fun-loving and always doting on her grandchildren. On the paternal side, another hard-working and devoted family man. A loving grandmother sure to fill you up not just with her love and hugs but to warm up your insides with the best food should could conjure up. And it was mighty good.
While these patriarchal and matriarchal figures were busy building deep rooted relationships with their grandchildren they were also busy at something else. They were busy sharing living history.
When your a child there is this process of leaving father and mother- some would call it growing up. It lends a certain and necessary relationship barrier in order that authority and order might be established as God willed. Grandparents though, lend another layer to this relationship. They have an established, well documented authority. One that comes with decades of learning. Mistakes made and witnessing so many changes in time. It gives an air of authority that grandchildren appreciate in a new way. It leaves a deep and lasting impression on the young mind. It is an authority that never has to have its relationship changed even as a grandchild grows.
My grandparents were not different. Grandpa impressed on us at a young early age the dangers of smoking cigarettes. He had learned those ills, I suppose, from years when cigarettes were army rations and later when medical technology had advanced enough to teach us the ill effects of smoking. He also taught us how precious Gram's marion berry jam was (marion berries are similar to blackberries but an Oregon specialty!) when sneaking us out to the garage freezer for a container to take home from Gram's stash. I can hear Gram calling him now! "Hooooneeey!!!" Yet the deepest lesson he left was that of his childhood. How he drove at the age of ten because his parents had passed away and his grandmother needed a driver. How during the Great Depression he and his siblings along with his grandmother cleaned for the affluent to earn their daily bread. Hard work lived in this man by his example. There was no bitterness over the hard work, just a deep expression of his appreciation for what he had. Everything was appreciated for its value because of the hard work that it took to get it.
Let me tell you, no one made better mashed potatoes than Grandpa. There was no electric mixer to mash them to perfection either. An old hand masher would do for Grandpa, complete with some good ole' elbow grease. To this day, I use a similar masher because its the one that HE used! During the Great Depression food was scarce for poor city folk. A dish of hamburger gravy and mashed potatoes was most likely an extravagant treat. Potatoes were the mainstay of many a poor man's dish and gravy made it spread around the dinner table easier. After all there were plenty of starving mouths to feed. I remember Grandpa teaching me how to make gravy, Given by the time I was around things like bouillon cubes were invented which was probably an extra that didn't exist in the 1930's. This was also Grandma's dish for she was the mistress of the kitchen at least until health prevented her from being so and even then she was still able to give Grandpa plenty of direction! This dish adorned many a plat at family gatherings. I'm afraid this piece of family history was never fully appreciated by myself as a child but we embrace it fully now in our farm kitchen.
Grandma on the other hand was an East Coast gal who fell for this handsome army man. Grandma always left us with a since of properness about things. There are only a few stories I recall Grandma telling us about her younger years. She use to work for a peanut butter factory, I think she told us that to impress the Farmer who loves his peanut butter. She also told us how her and her girl friends would always go see the army men when they came in because they had been away and had money to spend. That is where she met Grandpa. And how Grandpa sold pints of blood to buy her a ring (awweee!).
Grandma had this since of propriety about her. She was devoted to her religion and always dropping pearls of wisdom on us. Her love of words had us always using her as our point of reference for spelling and grammar. The master at Scrabble and she taught her children how to play well too. Sorry Google, nobody beats Grandma! There was a lot of wisdom behind those quite and loving eyes. Grandma perhaps only spoke when it counted for she wasn't a talkative philosopher but her love was known to all of us. She always had a cup of tea and chocolate mint ready to warm you up. If that didn't do it than perhaps a brownie or no-bake cookie or all of the above to sweeten life up. Together they made a beautiful team, planting the seeds of wisdom that they had learned in their many years of life. They have both passed away now many years but their seeds are growing and sprouting even without their presence. As God would have it, we don't often appreciate what we have until it is gone.
Those seeds that were planted are now taking root on our farm and in our family. As we embrace farm life we are welcoming the rewards of the efforts put into the wood that is chopped by the fire that warms us. The eggs that come from the chickens, that are fed, despite the rainy wet weather. The meal from the lamb that is fed every morning, the produce fresh, that day, from the garden that has been watered and nurtured. We have come to appreciate the food on our place every night because we KNOW its story. We WORKED for it and that work is not without its reward.
So while it is easier to drive to the store and buy what our heart or taste buds desire. While it is easier to turn on the thermostat for heat. We get satisfaction out of the work of these sometimes antiquated ideas. They bring back the memories of our grandparents and their hard work and those seeds that they planted long ago. They taught us appreciation through hard work.
For there is nothing quite like a good hot cup of tea for two and some good ole' hamburger gravy.
Unless, of course, you get to enjoy it in the warm company of your grandparents too!
My name is CeAnne, wife to my Farmer and mama to 4 adopted kiddos. I help farm lov'n mama's (and grandmas) turn common herbs into powerful medicines without being overwhelmed. Here you will find all sorts of nourishing goodness on natural medicine, herb gardening and wholesome real foods. Read more about our farm HERE.