The McKinley Farm Sketch
This drawing came about after reading an article where a woman hand drew her family farm. I loved the idea of drawing it, and I tried… but I could never get the look I wanted so I turned to drawing it in my Publisher program. Even though it was more squared off, it was easier to erase and start over without having to completely start each time from scratch. Whether hand drawn or computer drawn, it served my purpose of drawing everything that was on granddaddy McKinley’s farm. Many things are added from my mother telling me they were there, but I remember much of what was there.
Going to the farm was usually a Friday night adventure – leaving Perry after my father came home from work. My mother would have us all packed, so often by six we were on the road. It was about a two hour drive to Siloam, and being an only child my mother often played games with me to pass the time away. There were no deposits on bottles in those days, so one of our games was counting bottles on the side of the road – she took the right and I took the left. In Georgia it was mostly Coca Cola bottles, but I’m sure we passed Pepsi, RC Cola and even beer bottles. Mama may have told me not to count those though – probably thinking that I might be asking – why so many? (I may have to ask her that question?)
When we tired – or I tired – of that game, we changed to counting cows in the fields as we neared the farm areas. I often yelled for daddy to slow down, if I was losing and couldn’t count fast enough when they were on my side. By the time dusk set, I knew by instinct we were close to the farm and most times when we turned off Syrup Mill Crossing (I just love that name), I was sitting up and watching for the lights of their farmhouse. Usually I’d see a shadow of someone watching out their window looking for us.
If they knew we were coming, granddaddy would be home – usually Friday was his fox hunting night and he’d be gone until around ten o’clock. When they saw our headlights coming down the dusty dirt road to their house, the back porch-light flicked on – I then knew they had seen us. Daddy always pulled up close to the bottom cement steps so I could run and jump on as there were little toads hopping around. I was afraid of stepping on them – often I was barefoot. Granddaddy was quick to yell “don’t pick them up” – that was definitely not on my mind!
The card shed and dog pens were my first stops when daylight hit the next day. First to let his fox hounds out and then to play doodlebug in the sandy floor under the car shed. I could easily entertain myself all day at the farm.
If you’ve read some of my stories, you might recall me talking about many of the animals once on the farm. Most of the animals weren’t there when I grew up, but he still had his fox hounds, chickens and I remember a bull. Now why still a bull – I don’t remember him having cows any longer. (That’s another question for mama)
I was never board – there was much to entertain myself with. Wild cats roamed around the house (mouse control), and always with kittens in tow. Catching them was quite the challenge but I often managed to pen a kitten or two up in a corner. Feeding the chickens from the pail out in the yard was never a chore, but I hated to gather the eggs and step in the chicken poop.
There were two yard dogs, Smoker and Bill, and they followed me every step I took. Granddaddy never worried about me as long as they were by my side. They even watched over my grandmother when she later began having dementia; if she neared the edge of the yard, they tugged on her clothing to pull her back toward the house. It was like – they just knew!
The farm bell that stood at the edge of the yard was my favorite target when I had my BB gun loaded – it made a nice ping sound; granddaddy always yelled at me for that.
The two barns up from the house were full of interesting gadgets and I loved to roam through just looking around. I remember being quite intrigued with the corn sheller and probably kept the mice well fed from all the dried corn I left all over the barn floors. Some parts of the barn I was skeptical to go in as granddaddy always threatened me with “watch out for snakes.”
The bull was in a field behind the barn and granddaddy always said “now Jeanne don’t go in the bull pen and don’t wear red around him.” Why did he tell me that! That’s always was one of the first places I went, but I carefully walked near the edge – teasing him and wearing red. He never paid me any attention; that bull was probably wondering what small, red, two-legged animal was doing in his pen. I bet he was as docile as a cow! You had to go through that field to get back to the blackberry bushes, so I had to go that way if I was looking for berries.
The farm was loaded with blackberries and grandmamma always had jars of blackberry preserves waiting for me and her famous pear preserves. She canned all the fruits grown on the farm. When mama was young, she canned every vegetable they grew. Granddaddy built a corner cabinet in the dining room just for her to store her canning jars in; she was proud of her canning.
There was so many nooks and crannies to explore on his farm – from the smoke house – to the chicken coop – to the car shed; my relax spot was always the front porch swing. Every Southern farm and house had a swing – that’s where you planted yourself after the dinner meal. And if you’ve been lucky enough to have eaten a Southern meal of fried chicken, cream style corn, every vegetable imaginable and those to-die-for Southern biscuits – you needed a rest! Oh and I forgot to mention dessert! Grandmamma’s specialty was a blackberry pie – are you full yet?
I hope you’ve enjoyed my walk through granddaddy’s farm – he loved that farm and if spirits never leave the area they love – then he’s still there.