Thursday, March 22, 2012

What Goes Around...

You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back.  
William D. Tammeus

About twenty years ago, I volunteered at a living history farm. I had joined a natural science guild and had the option of working at a nature center or at Pioneer Farm. The farm depicted 1880 in Texas. As the mother of three young boys, that sounded like the best escape for me. Besides, at the nature center, you had to take out the snakes and show the visiting children. Not my thing.

I had two boys in elementary school at the time and my neighbor looked after my youngest while I enjoyed four hours a month dressing up in a long dress and apron. I milked the cow, collected the eggs, fed slop to the pigs, started a fire in the old stove and made pies or chicken stew while showing off chamber pots and corn cob toilet paper to the visiting school children.

Very peaceful for me, those four hours once a month. Loved it.

But, as mothers often discover, peace is a misnomer. Due to the illness of my neighbor, I found myself at the farm with Ian, then two years old. We were at the Tenant Farm that day. A place where the original farmer and his wife raised 12 children. The farmer's mother got to sleep in the only bed. Outdoor kitchen.

On this particular day of volunteering, I was getting the fire going and Ian was washing clothes in a washtub. He'd rinse out the towels and hang them on the clothes line. He had to climb a stool to reach the clothes line and between washing, rinsing, wringing, climbing and hanging up, he was quite busy.

About 9 weeks earlier, eight piglets came into the world and for the past three weeks running with wild abandon around the farm had become their bane. Sort of like a pack of teenagers with nothing structured in their lives. This day they decided to help Ian with the laundry.

As soon as he'd climb the stool to hang a shirt or towel, the pigs would gather at his wash bucket and pull out the item soaking and run off. At first he tried to chase them, but the group of eight ran in circles around him. One could almost hear them laughing as they played Keep Away.

At home, one of the books I was currently reading to Ian was Caps for Sale by Esphyr Solobodkina. In the story, a peddler who sells caps that he carries stacked on his head decides to take a nap under a tree. While he sleeps, a group of monkeys steal his colorful caps and arrange themselves in the branches above. When the peddler awakes, he stands with hands clenched in frustration, berating the wild group to give him back his hats.

Ian resorted to the same tactic, shaking his hands at the mischievious crew. "You pigs you! You give me back my clothes."

Memories. As he relayed the story to his older brothers, so it came that my days of going to the farm alone became a time of volunteering more often, with three boys in tow. Amazingly enough, on one of our visits, the bluebonnets were in bloom and even more amazing, I had a camera in the car. (I know I put this at the beginning, but just had to show it again.)

My kids loved the farm. They planted crops, collected eggs, made cookies, stacked wood, played hide and seek in the barn, fed the pigs, cows, horses and baby chicks while interpreting for crowds of visiting children. They had the run of the place, right along with the pigs. When my parents came for Christmas, we would all volunteer. We depicted a multi-generational family at the Homestead on Christmas Eve. My husband and dad welcomed the walking crowds and my mom played the pump organ while those visiting sang carols.

When she grew tired of pumping, the boys would take turns sitting on the floor pushing the pumps up and down. Somewhere I have a photo of all of us (of course can't find it now.)

And so we come to the point of this tale. Many of you have followed my stories of middle son, Jordan, the Fisheries and Wildlife major on his treks through the world of job hunting. From raising baby deer in south Texas to the wilds of Wyoming and West Texas and trading substitute teaching jobs with me.

A few Saturdays ago, my husband and I returned to Pioneer Farms after quite a few years of absence. Not much had changed other than further improvements on more farm scenes and the addition of a town square.

And some new animals.

While we wandered, guess who showed up walking from town square?

 Yup. That's Jordan. The farm hired him three days a week. 

He spends the other days of the week subbing or working landscape. Such is the life for many of our young college graduates. Several jobs. But, oh, how he enjoys this one, nurtured in childhood. Perhaps one good thing I did.


  1. Congratulations to Jordan for finding something that he loves to do. If you love your job you will never "work" a day in your life.

    What a great walk through wonderful memories. I could hear Ian yelling at the piglets.

    Love that picture of the boys with the bluebells in bloom.

  2. Ity sounds like a fun place to play.I have done some volunteer at a similar place.

  3. if and when there's a family wedding, that's your venue.How special to have that continuity of great memories down the years.

  4. What a wonderful story, Julie...full of family memories and history. Love the 3 generation connection to the farm and what a great photo of the boys!

  5. What a great volunteer experience for your whole family! And now for Jordan to be working there...yes, I'd say you definitely did something well!

  6. Wonderful photos and memories Julie. Glad that Jordan found something that he likes--a place that you all have a long connection with.

    Our youngest is fascinated with farms so we hang out at several here.

  7. Julie, that's a wonderful story. I love that Ian has gone back to working there. I can just imagine your family in this setting. And that photo amid the bluebells is perfect.

  8. Awesome story of success in raising your kids and how lovely that it comes back to you like a boomerang...we reap what we sow :)

  9. One good thing, my ass. You did MANY good things, and that's why your sweet sons turned into great young men. Kudos, my friend.


  10. Julie, It's obvious from how your boys turned out that you did a LOT of things right. Thank you for the lovely story. What wonderful memories!

  11. Such an amazing place. Jacob and I went a few weeks ago, and it brought back so many memories from field trips, and i loved hearing Jacob tell all of his stories from his many hours spend there. Its not often that Jacob gets all sentimental, but those are definitely some of his favorite memories as well. Plus, i LOVE the pic of the boys in the bluebonnets. So stinkin cute.

  12. I love the circle here, and the happiness in your voice. Wonderful story.

  13. What an amazing experience! My neighbor gal did a similar thing while in high school--lived out the prairie girl fantasy. But it's a lot of work.

  14. I loved it! But of course, the best part is finding Jordan working at the farm at the end. The photos are wonderful.

  15. Oh, such a feel good story! It's feeled with love and nature and family togetherness. I picture Mama-Bernie at the organ. I wonder how she would have told this story. :)I know she would be proud of Jordan as I'm sure you are. I know he'll be happy there until it's time to move on.

  16. So much better playing at such a museum than living it. These are the good old days...way easier than then!

  17. Wow - wonderful full circle story!

    Where in Texas are you (are you still in Texas?)

    I'm in Houston but get to travel all over the Lone Star state performing in the summers.

  18. I thought I better get caught up with you before we lunch tomorrow and after reading this I can only sigh and tell you this is so moving. Life's cycles. Lovely.

  19. Hello Julie, Just stopping by to wish you well in your adjustment period.


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