Real "Life On The Farm" Stories

Story #1) Want a Job?

As a teenager in the late 50’s, growing up on the farm in northeastern Nebraska, my brother Richard (one year younger) and myself would occasionally be hired by other farmers in the area for a specific job. One summer day, a farmer that we really didn’t know well approached us to help him store wire tied alfalfa bales in his barn. He said the job would last 3 or 4 long days, and he was willing to pay us $1.00 an hour. Hooray! A dollar an hour was above average for our area (usually around 90 cents per hour), earning us some serious spending money.

The work was hard, dirty, hot and sweaty, partially when working in the barns hay loaf. The only enjoyment was an occasional view of the farmer’s teenage daughter coming out of the house to run an errand.

The day came when the barn was full and the job was complete. It was now time to get paid, and after agreeing on the number of hours worked of 36 hours, the farmers said “I promised you guys a $1.00 per hour” and he wrote a check for $36.00. Wait a minute! That’s only 50 cents per hour. The farmer said, “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding, however, I said $1.00 per hour, that was for both of you”. My brother or I never remembered a conversation that the hiring wage was for both of us. In the future, we never worked for this farmer again, and also more careful understanding the wage offered.

EEB (I’m proud to be raised on a farm)
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Story #2) Would You Like A Cookie?

As a teenager in the late 50’s, growing up on the farm in northeastern Nebraska, I would occasionally be hired to help a neighbor gather the hay crop. The weather was usually hot, and the work dirty and sweaty. The neighbor’s was extremely wonderful and friendly people, however, not so clean when food was handled. Example: Alfred in his early 60’s, largely over weight, would drive out to the field in the middle of the afternoon, wearing dirty bib overalls with all the buttons open, to allow air in, wearing no shirt and underwear. He would come up to me carrying a fruit jar of drinking water, and then reach his hand in his hip bib overall pocket, pulling out a handful of unwrapped homemade cookies, and ask: “Would you like a cookie”? And my reply; “No thank you Alfred - I’m not hungry”.

EEB (I’m proud to be raised on a farm)
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Story #3) Raisin Bread!

As a teenager in the late 50’s, growing up on the farm in northeastern Nebraska, I remember one hot summer day, my dad and myself, being invited in the house of a neighbor for noon dinner. Farm homes at that time were not air-conditioned, and screen doors and windows were used to allow cool air in, and to keep the bugs and flies out. It was a hard job to achieve. I vividly recall walking into the kitchen and seeing homemade bread on the dining room table, and my dad asking the neighbors wife: “Oh; you made raisin bread!” And the housewife replying: “Oh No: A few flies got in the dough, and you’ll need to pick them out”. We were very careful what we ate!

EEB (I’m proud to be raised on a farm)
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Story #4)  Missing chickens?

In my early teens, in the middle 50’s, I was living with my parents and siblings on a farm in Platte County, Nebraska (northeastern section of the state). I was the oldest child of four, with a brother Richard, 1 year younger, another brother James, 4 years younger, and a baby sister. The farm of 720 areas, was typical of most farming operations of the area with row crops (200 acres), winter wheat (120 acres), alfalfa (80 acres), herd of stock cattle, (300 acres) of virgin pasture, hogs, and poultry for eggs and meat. The most widely used motor vehicle on the farm, outside of a  tractor, was a Willis Jeep, no cab and windshield frame usually down, that all us children learned to drive at a very early age. I vividly remember my 10 year brother James driving the Willis Jeep, with his legs not long enough to reach the pedals, needing to slide down off the front edge of the seat to clutch and brake, and then pushing himself back on the seat to steer. Amazingly, this is how the vehicle was driven.

In the summer, the farm was a busy place with farming, livestock and other activities. It was James responsibility (due to his young age) to take care of the chickens; feed, water and gather the eggs. The chicken house was behind the house, bordered to the west and north by a grove of trees. The chickens were allowed to roam free, only kept back from the house yard by a fence. Daily, James would care for the chickens, and I believe my father would quickly care for them on Sundays.

One summer evening around the supper table, I remember by dad telling us boys; “ We’re getting less eggs everyday, and I’m seeing fewer hens around”. “I wonder if wild animals are getting the chickens?” “James; you better keep an eye out for what’s happening to them”.  To the best of my recollection, the chickens continued to disappear without a trace.

Several months later, my bother Richard was operating a tractor near a large gully on the outer edge of our property, nearly ½ mile west of the farm building. To his surprise, the washout was loaded with numerous dead chickens. Richard quickly told dad, and both were in disbelieve what they had witnessed.

My dad, now suspicious of James being responsible for the death of the chickens and disposal, set a plan to secretly observe the feeding and care of the birds. Within a short time it was clear what was happening. James would pour grain on the ground in a long narrow row in front of the chicken house, and when the hens were busily eating, he would take the Jeep and run down and kill as many birds as he could. Dad quickly confronted him, and James explained, “ I’m tired of feeding and gathering the eggs”.  I do not recall the punishment given him, however, egg production remained stable after that. To this day, I’m still amazed that this kid could not properly reach the Willis Jeep pedals to brake and shift, yet secretly killed and disposed of all those chickens. Wow! 

EEB (I’m proud to be raised on a farm)
Names changed to spare any embarrassment to the family
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