Some of the first things we really noticed about my father as he developed dementia was his lapses in judgement. With a farm this resulted in more broken equipment… A wagon accidently pushed into a pond. The oil pan cover on a bulldozer being forgotten. We even found at one point that my father had thrown away the smoke alarms while my mother was out. We narrowed it down to while my mom was out and my dad had made himself something to eat. He had mentioned that the food was so burnt that the dogs wouldn’t even eat it. Apparently he had taken down the smoke alarms and carried them out to dispose of them. It wasn’t until my mother had a slight kitchen mishap weeks later that we noticed the alarms didn’t go off… upon a search, we noticed they were completely missing.
The toughest to correct was the wagon in the pond. Someone had to get into the pond and attach onto the wagon and then the wagon had to be drug out of the pond. It ended up taking a few years to get it out! The bulldozer though may still be needing repairs.
After the last farming season – the season of a lot of needed repairs…. my dad began to have strokes. Something I feel that I need to keep an eye out for in my future. I already know that on blood tests/lab work that odd test that shows the size of the red blood cells gives a result showing mine are a little large… I’m not really sure what that means, but I’m guessing that means I’m at a higher risk of stroke. My dad always had issues with clotting – he clotted easy and honestly with very little foreshadowing I already see my future coming… Add to that the fact that I know I have small veins (They say drink lots of water before lab work, hello, that just means I’m going to be in the bathroom a million times between now and bedtime and probably even have to stop to go on the way home – and the way into the lab)
Looking up items to reduce my risk of stroke, I’ve found:
Control Blood Pressure (mines already fine)
Watch your weight (um that’s not feasible…. I do everything I can and nothing helps)
Cholesterol (mine’s already fine)
Exercise (does going up and down stairs count?)
smoking (never have…)
eat chocolate (does white chocolate count?)
sleep (must add this to my calendar)
limit red meat (we already do, but we need some for iron – though we eat a lot of other things with iron)
Fiber (that could be good to add)
drink tea (I need to find one that doesn’t make me jittery)
drink water (I try)
Looking through my list of ways to reduce my list, I think I’m doing pretty good. We have also worked to reduce our fried foods, reduce our fats, and we mostly eat healthy. That tends to break down a little when my husband finds any snacks, when my mom visits, or when we are up in Illinois.
For the Fourth this year we decided to hang out at Oakwood. We are getting excited about moving home and had to head up and spend the holiday checking out all the fun things we could do. Living out in the country is totally different from living in a subdivision… everything from the lack of neighbors, the lack of constant noise, and a to do list a mile long… oh and internet and services being spotty. Groceries and food being a drive away… Even the fact that cable is not an option.
Eating at the Old House
We started by picking up pizza on the way out and taking it to house. We proceeded to eat at the house I grew up in. My brother has been redoing it and it looks completely different. If you have read my stories though, my whole childhood was my parents redoing the house, so the changes are not really anything different from the constant state of flux my parents had the house in. My brother has done a great job so far though. He’s doing everything himself and it looks pretty amazing. My brother has a huge dog (St Bernard) that my youngest hasn’t adjusted to, so we are still working on that one…
We have had a swing for a while and hadn’t had a chance to hang it. This trip my brother finally helped, and it is hung! It holds 600 pounds and everyone kept taking turns to swing out in the yard. It’s got a great view also, so we had a great time out on the swing – in the shade too!
I had to mention the toads though! They were everywhere. There favorite spot though is at the garage door. At one point we were seeing 7 or 8 toads hopping around right inside the garage…. I’m not sure what the thrill was with the garage but the toads seem to have found it. There were also squirrels making a racket – to me they sounded like toads, but my mother was convinced it was squirrels. We were seeing deer everywhere too. Out in the country we don’t hear the constant sound of cars, lawn mowers, and people, but the animals are always there….
Going to the Pancakes, Parade and Fireworks
Oakwood has a pancake breakfast at the firehouse on the 4th first thing in the morning. We HAD to head out to that. The parking is a mess, but we did it. We were there early enough that we were able to head back to the farm and get our wagon and ice for the parade before heading back out. Parades in a small town include candy, people you know are on floats and kids are everywhere. My mother’s goal is to collect as much as she could, but it was fun! Despite the way to hot weather this year, we had a good time.
I tried to record the fireworks. I’m still not sure how such a small town can have such a big fireworks display…. but they do. I managed to catch all but the final set. It was odd not having our own fireworks, but I’m sure it was much more safer. We did make up for it, but shooting off my dad’s canon before though.
Clearing the Pond
Shooting the Canon
My father built this canon many years ago. My brother and I have never tried to load it ourselves, but it was time to get a video of it going off. To load it, we use a Dixie cup of gun powder (I said mix flour in like my dad did sometimes), a fuse, and some paper. Shooting something out of it seemed a bad idea.
We loaded the canon, got it lit… and of course the first try didn’t go off. We then had to test the gunpowder, and then try to relight it. My middle son managed to catch it all on camera.
My father had built the canon with a special order barrel and it’s now been shot many times, including at the grand reopening of the bar the Little Nugget. It’s been stolen and returned, and it’s a family legacy to pass on….
Driving the Tractor
Finally we got my little one to sit on the tractor with my mother. It won’t be much longer until we can get him to drive it!
As I was home the other day I was discussing with my brother the many reasons why we were lucky to have made it through childhood. It’s funny though, my husband talks about people smoking on his bus on the way to school, but that would have NEVER happened on our bus. On the other hand, kids driving themselves to school as soon as they hit their 16th birthday was pretty common. – Mostly because farm kids started driving as soon as they could see over the dash board. I still remember the rules: If you see another car, pull over and park. If they hit you parked it’s their fault, if you are moving it’s your fault – child, no license, driving by yourself. My parents would have me follow to take an extra vehicle to the field, my aunt would have me drop her at the mushroom patch, and my dad would just let us practice.
Childhood though also included rides such as getting in the front bucket of the tractor and my dad spinning us around while he made the bucket go up and down. We would climb grain bins into the air and jump into corn and beans that were drying. Learned to swim by being thrown into a pond (at least doggie paddle). We started hunting as soon as we were old enough to hold the gun to shoot. Mini bikes, horses, and in our case odd animals that my dad collected were all part of childhood.
I remember cold days snowmobiling on a frozen river racing after my father (my dad would make us get off for the really steep hills and he would ride our snowmobile up), skating on frozen ponds where railroad tracks had been removed, and even playing in old railroad equipment that had been left buried on the earth by the removed tracks through a field my parents bought.
One of the dangers of growing up on a farm is getting lost in a field…. Surprisingly I don’t remember anyone I know getting lost, but I do remember wondering into fields when I desperately wanted to pee – and remembering the stories. I always wondered how it happened that anyone older could get lost in a field and die knowing the layout of most field in rows.
One story that my brother and I discussed though was my dad chasing down one of our deer that escaped (with antlers). He chased it up and down the field in an old scout, and then wrestled it back into the pin. My brother remembered looking out to see the deer with my dad pinned against a propane tank. My dad apparently always said he would have been gored if the deer wasn’t worn out from running back and forth down the field.
It’s funny (funny strange) thinking back now on how funny and well liked my dad was. Right now he mostly sits in his chair and watches tv. When people come over he doesn’t really talk much to them, and that includes me. It’s hard to reconcile the person he is today with the person he was.
My mom called to tell me that my Uncle Tom was in the hospital. He will be ok from the sounds of it – though it also sounded like the family grapevine had worked pretty well, but it reminded me of the story of each time he would drop by on patrol as a state trooper in Illinois while we lived in a trailer in my Aunt Margaret’s yard. My dad had taught me (2 or 3 year old me) to run out screaming here comes that dirty cop every time Uncle Tom showed up.
I remember my dad telling a story about getting pulled over and getting something like 40 warning tickets on an old grain truck… Hmmm wonder why. He said the officer was a friend of my uncles and told my dad he would have given him more, but his hand cramped up.
Dad even has stories about talking a police officer in Georgia out of a ticket on their honeymoon. He made friends with the officer and invited him up to Illinois to go fishing. I think mom even said he gave him directions.
I remember my dad playing outside with us, especially during the winter. He did everything from make go-carts with drills for motors, to use the tractor to let us sit in the scoop and make it an amusement ride going up and down and around in circles. As we got older he would make us our own race tracks for larger go carts, and finally we moved on to him giving us old beat up cars to drive around in the fields.
– I also remember the day he told me to go drive around in the disced part of the field with this old cadillac they have aquired… Not the ploughed! After being towed out by a tractor, I’ll never get those two confused again! I think I was only old enough to see over the steering wheel.
Despite dad doing all sorts of pranks – yes he once threw a snake onto my foot and then shot the snake. Gave us flares to light fireworks, and I think I’ve already mentioned the canon contest previously…. My dad was pretty serious when he was worried about us too.
I also remember walking beans and passing out one year (6th grade I think). My dad picked me up, threw me over his shoulder and carried me out of the field. He then drove me to my Aunt Margaret’s where he left me. Then despite my (for some crazy reason, and I think it involved that I was the only girl out there) wanting to walk beans that year, my dad banned me from the field for the year. I was probably the only farmer’s kid around that wasn’t forced to work in the field that year.
Uncle Tom and I
I’m pretty sure hooking a sled up to a lawn mower and pulling it would be frowned on now —- especially with a 2 year old on it, but back then it was what we did without ipads, and TV and electronics. You can even see the tracks where my dad had been pulling me around and around the yard. I recognize Aunt Margaret’s yard from the picture. I keep saying that I’m fairly amazed that myself (and most of my friends) survived childhood on the farm. But I also know that our parents were usually with us. I remember lots of times, trying to convince mom and dad to let me stay home while they drove around to ‘watch corn grow’ and even one where dad kicked my door in and broke the lock because I didn’t want to go. But we survived to adulthood.