We enjoyed fresh vegetables when we were growing up. Problem was, we didn't have them as often as we'd have liked. Daddy had nice gardens after he retired, but when I was young, he didn't have a garden every year and didn't have time to grow the plants like this. The plants in the photo below are okra, one of the three main crops Daddy grew.
Okra and Daddy
Of much more importance than the family garden were the crops. Daddy rotated the fields so all 160 acres weren't always planted with a crop. But between custom farming and our own farm, Daddy had little free time. There was a plot by the house that was normally a small garden. Even Mono, our monkey ... well, that's another story I'll share soon.
We all enjoyed the fruits of the garden. I don't remember working in the garden very often but I do dream about going out and working in it. I have spent more time dreaming that I was working in the garden than actually working in it.
Middle row, young okra
One year the garden was in the field to the south of the house. We would walk down by the fence to the garden and work together. I was too young to do much real work but I was walking along and doing what I had to. I think that sometimes I spent more time trying to figure out how to get out of work than it would have taken me to do the job. When I was young, I wanted to help. I was 'big enough, Mother'. Then when I was truly 'big enough' it was no longer fun.
As soon as we could tell the difference between a weed and a good plant, we were working. Before then, we could pick up rocks. What fun it was! Fun that is, until we realized it was work. Like all other jobs, when we were old enough to realize it was work, the fun left.
This may sound like we worked all the time. Not so! We played a lot. Swimming, biking, games ... there were so many things to do that it wasn't often that they heard "I'm bored" from any of us.
We'd see all kinds of critters while we were out in the fields. I learned to identify several species of birds. One species would make its nest of little rocks in the middle of the field. When we came close, we'd see a bird dragging a wing, making a fuss and moving away from us as though scared. Mother taught me how to scan the area and sometimes we'd find the nest with eggs or little birds. We'd not touch them because we wanted mommy bird to come back but what fun it was!
Of course where there were birds on the ground, there would sometimes be snakes. We'd catch non-poisonous snakes and play with them. Rattlesnakes were caught by Daddy and my brothers and they were sold to Ross Allen for his reptile show and the venom was milked for use as an anti-venom. We learned to tell which snakes were poisonous and which were not at a very young age.
Non-poisonous snakes were like cats. They caught mice that would eat Daddy's seed peanuts. They were valuable to the farm.
One day Mother and Daddy were heading to the garden that was further away from the house. I was lingering behind everyone else, looking at all the neat things I could find. I was trailing along, looking down at the ground for some reason, probably to avoid seeing Mother and Daddy motioning for me to hurry up or catch up. I was wearing flip flops, our normal summer foot wear except when moving irrigation pipes in hot sand. Suddenly, between my feet, I saw a 'rattlesnake'. I leapt straight up into the air, probably the highest I ever jumped in my life. Because I didn't see the snake until it was between my feet, I didn't have time to do anything but react and I did, straight up. Yes, straight up. My feet landed back down exactly where they left, one on either side of the snake. They didn't stay there long. My squawk brought Mother, Daddy, and my siblings to my side. Some with concern, some with pure curiosity. Daddy quickly told me that it was not a rattler, it was a hog nosed snake. I didn't work in the garden at all that day. I was too busy playing with my snake. I guess Mother and Daddy figured I had enough exercise for one day with the leap and squawk I made. I carried it back home and put it into the circle 'cage' we had at the house. It didn't have a top but a snake would normally not escape for a while. After a couple of days, I let it go again. It had work to do, catching mice!