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My farm life continued

Welcome to my article, My farm life continued chapter 5

Dear readers, we know that in our last article, we have told you how I felt during my entire life, and then I have tried to break from the pains that were in my heart in our last article that we called, Hello my world, now let me tell you more about my farm life when I was young, and then, let me tell you what I have done during my whole life starting from my first job in the farm with the intention of telling you the whole story of my life, bit by bit and perhaps even the reasons why I am writing my life story now, in a language that is not my mother tongue, but the English language, which I had to learn as a grown up.

You see I feel that I might be one of the few people left in the world that is willing to tell you this story of my life, I would like to tell you this story about how the world was then and what we did then, so that a record could be kept even if it is going to be just a simple record of my own life, and how I have understood life then and how I understand life now. What I would also like to say here is that everything is changing so fast these days that people don’t take the time to record those changes that occur, for this reason lots of past ways of life will soon be lost, because nobody is writing about them anymore, but I believe that it is good to know how we used to live in the past, perhaps just to compare the past with the present ways of life. Speaking for myself I could easily compare the ways of life that I have lived myself, to the ways of life that my forbears were telling me and then to the ways of life that we are living today, which I have to say that they are changing all the time.

Therefore, if I continue to write about my farm life including some of the old practice that the old people used then, even if some of them may seem strange or archaic to you, it would be a record of how people used to live then in their simple farm lives and the ways that I have seen it happen, so, I hope you are willing to follow me in my life journey that I will continue to write here.

      Welcome to my website 

My name is Frank Menchise

and we are going to write in this website an old man life story, being my real life story

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 My first job on the farm

Dear readers, I suppose that you are wondering what a youth could do in the farm at the tender age of eleven years old. Now the first thing that I want to say, do not feel sorry for me for having lived a early hard life in the farm, because even today there are people that are worse off that I was then; you see in the poor countries they not only start to work early in life, but they also go hungry and thirsty, so think about them and if any of you/us are in a position that can help, then try to help them; you see to feel sorry for me is useless now because nothing can be done as it is in the past, but anyhow let me tell you the story of the first job in the farm.

When I went to work in our small family farm as a youth, I had just turned eleven and the first job that I did was looking after a small flock of sheep, which included also a ram and a couple of goats; I had to do that job because the lad that my family had hired to look after the sheep left us suddenly, so I had to replace him for a few months until we were able to sell the small flock of sheep. It was a very boring job to take the sheep out in the fields to graze twice a day, I had to mind them that they would not graze in fields that didn’t belong to us, or fields which there was a crop still growing, I had to take them out early in the morning and then in the afternoon for a few hours each time, because this is how the sheep are grazed over there in summer times. Then when the town’s Fair was held we were able to sell the small herd of sheep, we had to sell them because it would cost us more to hire a youth to look after them than what we could earn from keeping them. Anyhow even though we sold our sheep I had to continue to stay in the farm helping with the other farm animals.

In order to be able to tell you what we did in the farms of those days, so that you can have a better idea what sort of life I had to live in the farm when I was young, I will start by trying to describe to you how a day in the farm was spend doing those farm chores, that seem endless since they are repeated every day. Now to make it easier for me to tell you, I am going to start with those days when there was not much to do, because the hard work has already been done.

So let me tell you first of all, about a day in wintertime when all the main works of sowing had been done, and we were so to speak resting and waiting for better weather and longer days. Those were the days which we were just looking after the farms animals, and did some odd jobs around the farm, but even in those days there were lots of things to do in the farm, but I am not willing to tell you here, just because I would like to keep this part simple.

Farms are very lonely places, but if you don't mind that then farms are a very good place to live in, because people can live a healthy  stress free life, compared to the busy crowded places in towns. My first job in the farm was that I had to look after a small flock of sheep during the day.  

 Winter days in the farm

In the morning we would get up early usually just before dawn, and at once we would start doing our chores, we would start by feeding the horses and other farms animals, and we would also be grooming those animals, and at the same time we had to clean the stables as well, virtually we would collect all the manure that the horses and the other stable animals had made during the night before, we would load it on a strange devise like a field stretcher made of timber and wire, and then two of us would lift it and carry it to the manure heap, which was outside about 20 meters or so away from the building, at the same time we would still be grooming the horses with a hand brush, and at the same time we would continue to feed the horses and other farm animals, such as cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals with fresh serving of straw, oats, hay, grain, and whatever else was needed according to the animals needs, and sometimes according to the tusks that those animals were supposed to do during the day, because if the horses were going to do some work, we would give them more oats than normally did.

Once we had finished grooming the horses and cleaning all manure from the stable, the chicken coop, the pig stay, sweep the floors and everywhere else; then one of us would go to the well with a couple of buckets or other containers, so that we could bring some clean fresh water for the small animals to drink, and also for ourselves to drink and to wash our hands and face, and everyday even if it was very cold we used to wash our hands and face outside the building: Here I can assure you that this was the main hygiene that could be had in the farm each day, and this was the only time and place where we used to clean ourselves; at any other time when we got our hands dirty, we had to find a way how to clean ourselves with anything available around us.

By the time we had done all these chores, it would be time for the horse and the cows to be taken to the well to water them, (the horses and other large animals were watered only twice a day in winter time) and of course we had to stand on the well head in order to draw water with a bucket attached to a rope, we had to let the bucket down the well, and then with a flick of the rope we would make the bucket turn upside-down to fill itself, and then we would pull the bucket up the well and empty it into the trough; we had to draw as many buckets of water as they were needed until all the animals would not drink anymore; and now that I think about it, it really was a hard and dangerous job for a youth of my age.

After we had done all those chores as I have said above, it would have been time to eat something, so we would sit down on some sort of wooden stools to have breakfast. Breakfast was usually brought in from town, from one of us or one of our neighbors  there was always somebody on horseback that would go to town the evening before, and then would bring prepared food in the morning. Breakfast would usually consist of a few fried dry capsicums and a few olives, and at the best one or two small pieces of sausage, or something similar which my mother would have fried in the early hours of that morning, and then placed it in a saucepan with a few drops of fried oil at the bottom, we set around a larger wooden stool which acted like a table, and with a slice of bread in one hand and a fork or knife in the other hand, we would try to eat our small share of breakfast from the saucepan with as much bread as possible, as there was plenty of bread of very good nutritional quality, but not much of everything else. At lunge time we would have something similar to eat, as we did at breakfast and in the evenings we had to do our own cooking. 

To prepare a quick warm meal in the farm

We all know that we need to eat at least one good warm filling meal every day in order to stay healthy and strong, especially if have worked during the day, so, in the evening we had usually a large warm meals that we had to cook ourselves, sometimes we would cook pasta or homemade pasta, but usually we made a quick meal called ‘panecotto’ which was just cooked bread; to you this may seem strange that we cooked bread a second time for our main meal, but then over there it was the simplest meal to cook in the farms and very filling, therefore after a cold and long day of activities this very simple meal was very welcome, and it was also very easy to prepare:

To prepare ‘panecotto’ all that was needed was a lively fire to boil some water, sometimes we would add to this boiling water some vegetable as they were available in the farm, or some slices of potatoes, since we would grow our own in the farm, at least for our own family needs; then when these vegetables or potatoes were nearly cooked, we would throw in this boiling water as many slice of durum wheat bread as required, and in a minute or so we would drain the water out of the saucepan; now let me tell you that this sort of panecotto works well only if you use bread made from durum wheat, because the durum wheat is like the past, you see the best pasta is made from durum wheat, anyhow over there in those times we did not need to look for durum wheat bread, because all the bread that we were eating in the farm was made from durum wheat; anyhow once we had this durum wheat bread in the saucepan on a lively fire, in a minute or so we would drain all the water out of the saucepan, at the same time while we were cooking the bread, we would also fry a small amount of olive oil in a frypan with garlic and pepper or tomatoes and when this was ready we would pour it on the cooked bread, or cooked bead and vegetable and that was all that was required, at this stage the ‘panecotto’ would be ready to be eaten, from a large plate and sometimes even from the saucepan itself, depending on how well we were organized in the farm.  

In winter the farms are even lonelier than the rest of the year, but we had still to look after the farms animals, and cook meals for ourselves. 

 Some farm work in winter time

Anyhow, now let me go back to breakfast, after breakfast weather permitting we would have to do some minor jobs, like hoeing in the kitchen garden, which was about half an acre of land, or working in the vineyard, or going out to cut and collect fire wood for ourselves, and also for our families in town, as they depended on us for their wood supply, in order to cook our meals and keep themselves warm, because in the town in those times there was nothing to burn in order to keep warm and prepare meals.

During the day we would still feed the animals every now and then, and bring in the stable new straw and hay for the following night.

This is how life in the farm was in winter times, when the days were short and the weather was cold and wet.

But when the days became longer and the weather was fine, there was work to be done in the fields even if it was winter. We would have to get up earlier then, in order to feed the horses and get them ready for the tasks that they had to do: it could be just that we had to plowgh a field or something similar, but in order to do that we had to harness the horses and attach them with their harnesses to the appropriate devices; all this had to be done early enough in the morning even if it was very cold, so that some work could be done during the short winter days in the fields.

Apart what I have already said above, there were also other chores which had to be done in the farm in wintertime, like pruning and hoeing the vineyard, planting trees, pruning fruit and olives trees, cutting and collecting wood, and many other small jobs, so everyday there was always plenty to do.

But even though in wintertime we were busy in the farm, wintertime was very dreadful and sad especially for young people, because we were more isolated that at any other time of the year, and therefore it was very boring and it was very easy for one to become dull, therefore if we young people became dull it was due to this harsh environment, at other times of the year it would always be a bit better as there was more contact with the town’s community, and also because there were some important happenings to talk about, even if it would be in a restricted way, so we were happy to see springtime coming.

  Springtime in the farms

Welcome to my hub, springtime in the farms farm

Dear readers in one of last hubs, we have been telling you about what we did in the farm in a winter day and it was very boring, as we had to do all those repetitive chores day in day out and here is the link if you want to check it out, My farm life continuesNow we have better news to tell you, because we are going to talk about spring time in the farms.

The only time that one can say that living in the farm could be better that living in town was and is at spring time, because those things that make life interesting in the farm happen, you see one can observe Mother Nature wonders as they occur at very close range; and springtime is the time when most of those wonders occur one after another. Therefore, life in the farm becomes more interesting and wonderful after a cold winter when finally spring comes, for a start the warm sun makes just everybody feel happy to be alive, after those cold winter days that never seemed to end.

For us farmers early in spring when the weather is fine it is nice and warm to stay outside doing odd jobs, like preparing the soil in the kitchen garden and planting some seeds that will soon grow, you see in the temperate zone as the days grow longer and the temperature rises the plants start growing very quickly, this fact of life even by itself seems to bring some joy after the cold winter days, not only because we could see the new plants growing, but also because we would be thinking what the good season would bring to us, when the time would come to harvest whatever we had planted or we would plant now in early spring. 

 Here above are some of the views that we usually can aspect in spring times in the farms, like a typical kitchen garden, a poppy field, trees in flower and plenty of other green fields of all sorts of crops; of course spring comes also in the towns, see the poinciana tree (photo on the right) near where I live in Brisbane town.

  Wonderful spring is here

Wonderful spring is here

Flowers evrywhere www.types-of-flowers.org/spring-flowers.html

During early spring it would be wonderful, if one could be able to forget all worries in the world, and look at the work of Mother Nature at its best. You see, today you look at one tree and you wonder whether it is alive or dead, because its twigs seem really lifeless; but in a few days, when you look at that same tree again you can see a few flowers and some small leaves on its twigs, and in a few more days the whole tree will be in flower, and also its leaves will be growing on its twigs very rapidly, all the trees start flowering and growing quickly at springtime after winter, also all grass and seedlings grow faster and everything is greener and full of life, also the birds that throughout the winter seemed timid and sad, now start to sing and they sound very happy. In the country there is a change in the air in springtime and everything and everybody feels happy in spring, there are lots of sunny and mild days in spring, so the sunshine and the mild days tell you that the dreadful winter is past, so better times are ahead for the farm people and for the farm animals as well.

Now, let me describe the changes that spring brings in the country of the town that I came from. After looking and hand feeding all farm animals during the winter, which was a very boring job, now spring is very welcome. I am saying this because, in springtime the way of looking after the farm’s animals changes a lot, because in spring most of the farm’s animals will be feeding on grass, and most of them will be grazing in the paddock during daytime, and there are a lot of other interesting happenings.

For a start, during the winter and perhaps most of the year, the large farm animals have been hand fed in the stable with straws, oats and hay, but now gradually they will be let loose to graze in the paddocks. So as soon as the grass in the paddock grows enough early in spring, the cows are let loose in the paddock for a few hour each day to begin with, and then as the grass starts growing faster they will graze in the paddocks all day long. The next on line to graze in the paddocks are the pregnant mares, followed by the rest of the animals: So that in mid spring all animals that are grass eater will be feeding only on grass; that is during the day in the paddocks and at night with fresh harvested grass, which has been purposely grown and cut from the farmers. As you can see the farmers are still busy to look after the farm animals, but now it is not as hard as in winter times and the weather is usually fine, and every day that go past it becomes warmer, so a more relaxed way of life can be enjoyed and there are also other happy happenings, you see, spring is the season of hope and in spring we start to harvest many things, there are plenty of vegetables in spring as everything grows pretty fast, also in the fields things grow fast, there are plenty of fresh peas, green beans, broad beans just to name a few, the farmers go around with great hope in their hearts, they hope to harvest plenty of everything, when they are ready to be harvested.

But at the same time the farmers always look at the sky, as they fear bad weather that can ruin their crops. This can really be a real problem when stormy weather approaches, as all the work that the framers have done during the year can be ruined or destroyed in a few minutes. So hope and heartbreak go hand in hand and they are there ever present, it is not an easy life being a farmer, I can tell you that because I have been there. Her I have to say that this was one of the reasons why I left farming and migrated to Australia when I was still young, hoping for a better and easier life in Australia. But now let us talk about the farm animals, as they are a very important part of farming all year around, but what happens during spring is interesting to know.

 All the farms animal usually have their offspring's in spring time,  cows have their calf, mare have their foal. 

  The farm animals

Let us talk about the farm animals and what happens in spring

We have to admit that the ways that Mother Nature has set of how these natural things happen is almost faultless, for a start most of the farm animals give birth to their offspring when there is plenty of food to go around, and when mild and fine weather is usually expected, it is for this reason that in springtime most of the animals offspring are born, starting from the sheep, and also the cows that usually calf once every year and they make plenty of milk especially when there is plenty of green food to eat, also other animals have their offspring, the sheep have their lamb, the mares have their foals, and other animals have also their young’s whatever it is according to their specie.

By observing what we have just said, we have reasons to believe that the farm animals are born usually early in spring so that they can grow big and strong during the spring and summer, so that when the cold weather comes back they would be able to cope with it easily, this is really how Mother Nature wants it to be.

But we the people sometimes do things that go against Mother Nature, as we want to control everything around us for our own benefit. Sometimes we do cruel things also, and one of those things that come to my mind is that we take away veal from mother cow, we sell the veal to the butcher who will kill the veal and sell the meat to the people to eat it, by doing this not only we get some money from the butcher, but then we can happily milk the cow, so the poor cow cops it both ways. You see we take plenty of milk from the cows after selling their veal, and what we do with most of the milk in the farms? We make cheese of course. So in my next hub I will be talking about, how we made cheese the old way when I was young.