Big brothers are known for tormenting their younger siblings. On a farm, the availability of items to assist with this are readily available. The first item, and my brother’s particular favorite, was electric fences.
My brother Jerry is almost 7 years older than me and spent his childhood alternating between protecting me and teaching me wonderful things, to tormenting me. Because I was so much younger and innocent, he could get me to believe anything. This was especially true with Electric Fences.
My grandparent’s were farmers. They raised all their own meat: Pigs, Cows, Chickens and Fish. They also grew all their own vegetables: Corn, Butter Beans, Field Peas, String Beans, Okra, Tomatoes, Squash, & Watermelon are the ones that come easily to mind but I’m certain there was others. They also had apple trees, fig trees, blueberry bushes, pecan trees and a black walnut tree. Mammy (my grandmother) would send a grandchild out to the hen house in the morning to get some eggs, and when needed, to the smokehouse for some ham. M-m-m my mouth waters just thinking about it! We sure did eat well on the farm. Mamma said during the depression they never went hungry because of the farm. They had no money, but had plenty of food and a house full of love.
If you aren’t from the country, or haven’t ever visited ‘country folks’ then you have no idea how the isolation of living on a dirt road with the only house in sight belonging to your relatives. And with only 3 stations on TV, a 5 party telephone line**, no A/C, I-Pads, Internet, Cell phones and the like, you had to find ways to keep yourself entertained and out of the adult’s way. If they saw you idle, you’d be put to work doing something. So we got up and out of the house as early as possible and would stay gone till dinner time (that was at noon~supper was at night).
My grandaddy had electric fences around the cow pasture. The switch for this fence was located in the ‘barn behind the house’ not the barn mentioned in Bloomers By the Barn.
On the other side of the cow pasture was woods, then a creek. In the summer, this was one of the coolest spots on the farm, and had the added bonus of being out of sight of the adults so we could get down there and not have to do chores until we wandered back home for dinner.
In my mother’s day, they’d dam up the creek to make a swimming hole. But we just splashed around in it and caught frogs and minnows.
Whenever Jerry was going I wanted to tag along after him. He would say okay, but you gotta hold up the fence for me to get through. I was little enough to fit under the bottom wire, but Jerry needed the top wire held up, while he stepped over the bottom wire. I always agreed.
Out we’d go headed to the creek, me happily walking, running and skipping beside my big brother. We’d get to the fence, and I’d say, “Jerry, did you remember to turn off the fence?”
“Of course I did,” he’d promise.
If you are unfamiliar with what grabbing an electric fence can do to you, take a look at this video I found on YouTube: How to Spot a City Boy in the Country
Notice that it doesn’t throw you to the ground, but grabs you right back and holds on. You saw what it did to that ‘city boy’, now imagine a skinny little 8 year old girl grabbing it. Now visualize me hollering and Jerry laughing as he ran across the yard to turn the switch off.
Out of the house would come Mammy, Dinah, or Mamma~depending on who was around. They’d hollar at Jerry, and then me to “come here and get in this house!” Because if you aren’t too busy to stay out of mischief you’d be put to work.
Just like Charlie Brown and Lucy, I fell for this time and time again. Why? I’ve asked myself that. I can only say that boredom and the promise of hanging out with Jerry must have been too much to resist.
** In the 1960s when this story took place when people got a phone they shared a line with others. Each person had a certain ‘ring style’ that let them know it was a call for their house. One of the ‘fun things’ to do on the farm (of course our parents frowned on this and we got in trouble when they caught us) was to listen in on other people’s conversations. You had to have good timing though and pick up the receiver a millisecond after the ringing stopped or you would be detected.