I was blessed to be born in the beautiful valley of Creston, British Columbia. I was to spend the first year of my life with my mother at Grandpa and Grandma's farm. This farm was where I would be introduction to cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys.
Shortly after my first birthday my mother married and moved to another farm in the valley. This farm was quite different though. It was a fruit orchard. The only animals here were cats and a dog.
But being within ten miles of Grandpa and Grandma's farm meant lots of time was spent there. It was during these many visits that Grandpa would have his little tag-a-long granddaughter with him.
My days on the farm were always very busy in some way or another. Bright and early each morning while still in a half sleeping state I would hear Grandpa lighting the fire in the wood cookstove for Grandma to prepare a hearty breakfast. No prepackaged cereal for breakfast here. Everything was from scratch. Grandpa would then head out to do the morning chores which were usually done by the time I awoke. I don't have any recollections of morning milking, but I am certain that it did happen. Grandma probably thought five a.m. was too early for me to get up.
During the day would usually find me following Grandma around helping with whatever she wanted me to do. Before supper Grandpa and I would go call the cows from the pasture to the big old log barn for evening milking. This barn is still standing today. Grandpa would go up into the loft and toss down the sweet smelling hay into each cow's manger. When I was old enough to climb that ladder I got that privilege. He would then take his milking stool down from the wall to milk each cow in turn. His pail would be held between his knees and I would be standing right beside him waiting for my turn to "help" milk. When all the cows were hand milked he would clean the barn and we would head to the milk house to bottle all that warm goodness. If Grandma needed milk for the house we would take it to her. After milking was done we would go to feed the laying hens and gather the eggs.
Each spring would find the brooder house filled with fluffy little chicks. It was so magical to see the red glow from the heat lamps shining on all those little creatures. Whenever I visited I was allowed to help feed and water the birds. Butchering day would see all of my family helping with the task. I don't remember eating those chickens, but I do remember all the home made equipment used to process the meat birds.
Grandpa and Grandma always had a huge (to a preschooler) garden down by the creek. It was always a pleasure to walk down there. The walk back up the hill with a load of fresh veggies was a little more difficult, but definitely worth the work.
There were two root cellars on the farm. One in the farm house basement, the other under the brooder house. The memory of seeing all the shelves brimming with food has stuck with me all these years.
Like a summer morning mist that slowly disappears as the sun comes up my fairy tale life was soon to fade also.
School time arrived for me all to soon. Grandpa and Grandma's farm still played a very important role in my life. There were even times when to my parent's frustration I would hide in the back of Grandpa's car and not show myself until we were at the farm. This usually ended up in an unplanned sleep over (good things for telephones so my parents knew where I had disappeared to). It didn't take long for them to catch onto this trick though and more planned visits had to be made.
To add insult to injury, not many years later Grandpa and Grandma were to retire and move to a lot in town. Sadly this meant no more animals, but the big garden and fruit trees on the property helped to keep me learning about growing food.