Send A Boy To Do A Man’s Job

While we lived on the farm near Carey, Idaho. Dad developed hyper thyroid decease which caused him to gradually loose weight and he visited several doctors before they diagnosed his problem. The cure was to surgically remove his thyroid gland,  but he was so weak that he had to go on a special diet to build up his strength or he would not be able to survive the surgery. Since he was sick I was called upon to do things that a 6 year old might not ordinarily be asked to do.

An irrigation ditch ran along the upper edge of our farm for about a mile. It supplied water to our farm as well as 2 or 3 others and it was either not practical or too expensive to use machinery to dig out the sediment that gradually fills up the ditch. The farmers had a tradition of meeting in the spring before the water came to clean out the ditch by hand. Since Dad was sick Mom told me to take a shovel and go help dig out the ditch. Looking back on this memory, and estimating my age I find it hard to believe that it happened, but it is a very vivid memory. I can remember the men teasing me about Dad being drunk instead of sick. Dad was not active in the church then, but he was not a drunk. I find it hard to believe that they were trying to be mean to me but I felt hurt at the time. How much serious digging could a 6 year old do anyway, or an 8 year old for that matter, but the farmers seemed to accept that we had done our share of the digging.

Around that same time one of our cows got out and wandered down the road to the next farm where the farmer put it in his coral and called us so we could come get it. Dad sent me down to bring the cow home. As the farmer helped me get the cow out of the coral he teasingly asked me if Dad got drunk and left the gate open. This was one of the farmers who worked in the ditch. The farm was down the highway about a half mile and I walked down and lead the cow home.

Part of our farm was on a gentle slope and had to be irrigated by corrugation which meant that little grooves had to be put in the field about every 2 feet so that water could be channeled into each one to water the field. Since Dad was sick, my uncle Clay, my mother’s sister Beulah’s husband, had come over and corrugated the field for us. I don’t know why but part of the field was so poorly corrugated that the water could not find it’s way, so Mom and I had to take a hoe and dig the corrugations by hand so that the water could get to the wheat.

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2 Responses to Send A Boy To Do A Man’s Job

  1. Lara says:

    It’s amazing for me to think of all the life experiences you and Grandma have had that are completely foreign to me. It’s hard to imagine feminine grandma out there digging in the dirt. I envy the know-how you have, but I’m also glad I don’t have to do that sort of thing.

  2. Royal says:

    My mother was raised on a very poor farm. She did lots of hard work even as a child. She told me she and her 4 sisters had to take turns wearing shoes because they didn’t have enough pairs. She also told me that when she went out in the winter to do farm chores they wrapped burlap bags around their feet because they did not have warm shoes.
    Another glimpse into her childhood is that they gleaned food from the fields of neighboring farms. One year they picked up apples from the ground of an orchard and piled them in the corner of their living room to keep them until they could use them. They probably canned them. The apples that fall off the tree are usually used for cider as they are bruised and won’t keep.
    We are always glad we don’t have to do the hard things but in reality doing the hard things does not hurts us. In fact it makes us stronger and is a blessing to our lives.

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