December 16, 2011 by Carrie Mess
How do I introduce someone like Mandy? Carefully! She has been my partner in crime and can totally tell incriminating stories. Now she is one of my best friends. A former rodeo queen and scientist, she keeps her wild ways mostly under wraps now that she is a wife and mother shuttling kids around the Boston suburbs in her pimped out minivan. Her life today is quite different then how she grew up on a small dairy farm in Green County, WI. However she is raising her kids with the same values she learned all those, many, many, many years ago.
Carrie and I met 11yrs ago in Manawa, WI during the annual rodeo. This is where I could really rat her out but, she also has dirt on me! So, let’s just say that it was the beginning of a great friendship that would reconnect over the years and she is now one of my very special BFF’s. It’s nice to have a friendship that has so much in common: farming, beer, guns, horses, rodeo, and anything agriculture related. Naturally when she asked me to write a post for her I said yes!
Here are a couple of my favorite memories from growing up on the farm. Both include feed salesmen who left the farm shaking their heads on more than one occasion!
The first of my favorite memories from childhood has got to be the day a feed salesman showed up one afternoon to find us girls alone. My sisters, Tiffany and Carmen and I just happened to be unloading and mowing hay. I remember the little red S-10 pick-up truck the salesman drove. He smiled as he walked over and asked if dad was in the hay mow. I kept throwing the bales on the elevator and said he was baling. “Is your mom up there?” he asked. Again, not missing a beat I said “No, she’s running the wagons back and forth and raking. Tiff and Carmen are mowing.” The poor man looked flabbergasted. He smiled and took off to the back forty where dad was bailing and then waved to us on his way out.
To us girls it wasn’t such a big deal. We were big enough to be alone, right? Well, looking back I can see why he was a little shocked. I must have been about 13 years old at the time and that would have made Carmen 12, and Tiffany 8. The three of us together soaking wet barely weighed in at 120lbs. Yet, here we were chucking bales that weighed more than us.
I don’t know what the salesman said to my dad but, it sure had him smiling when he came in from baling. Dad didn’t have to say anything to us. We knew he was proud of his little farm girls.
The second feed salesmen incident involves my little brother, Beau. He was the fourth child with three older sisters to watch over him. (I ‘m sure he sees it a bit differently). He was about 3yrs old and potty training. Or, so we thought! The old two story farmhouse had one bathroom upstairs for the six of us to use. As a farm kids, if you had to go and you happened to be outside you just went. Pop-a-squat was the referred to term for us girls. For boys it was even easier!
Beau took this kind of thinking outside the box. Or should I say window! For the longest time my mom and dad where trying to figure out how and why there was a rust stain below one of the windows of our house? This window just happened to be above the side entrance we used to come in from the barn.
They were about to find out….. One sunny day without a cloud in the sky, a feed salesman comes to the door. Dad and the salesman were talking and catching up. All of a sudden the poor man wipes his head thinking it was rain. (Did you catch the part about “not a cloud in the sky”?) No rain but, there was certainly a sprinkling going on! I can still hear my dad laughing in my mind! There was Beau standing in the window doing his business. With three sisters and one bathroom it was easier for him to pee out the window then to wait for us to finish I guess.
Needless to say, feed salesmen always had an entraining time when they came to the Keegan farm.
I love hearing farm kid stories. I grew up in town and to be honest I get a little jealous of the freedom that farm kids had. As an adult I sure appreciate the work ethic, skill set and maturity that working on a farm teaches kids. Right now there are some Department of Labor regulation changes being proposed that would essentially eliminate kids working on the farm. Please check out this link for more info on what you can do to make sure the next generation learns the values that working on a farm brings.