I was raised on a small farm in Oregon's Willamette Valley. It wasn't an easy life. We were poor by today's standards. But some parts of that rural life were wonderful.
Yep, that's me, feeding a bummer lamb. My cousin sent me this photo last week. There aren't a lot of photos of me at this age, about four or five years old.
Every spring we would get a bummer lamb from a nearby farm. A bummer is a lamb that is raised away from its mother, because she had triplets and could only feed two, or because she had twins and as an old ewe she could only feed one.
We bottle fed the lambs until they were old enough to be weaned. They were cute and fun when they were little, but by the time they got too big to handle they became lamb chops and leg of lamb for Easter dinner. No, we didn't romanticize farm life. We were realistic. A pet today is meat tomorrow.
We had milk cows and chickens and sometimes a pig or two, maybe a runt also raised by hand. Every summer we had a big vegetable garden. as well as fruit trees. Berries were easy to come by from nearby farms, where we spent summers working to harvest strawberries and raspberries and beans. We had maybe a week off to get ready to go back to school. And yet, strangely, I loved summer. I still do.
I left the farm at age 18 and came to Seattle to attend school at Seattle Pacific College, now University. I spent summers back on the farm, working in crops or in the cannery. It was by then always a relief to get back to Seattle and my college dorm in September.
From college on I have been a city girl, never longing for that old country life. And yet, you can't take the country completely out of that girl. I still love long walks, bird song, drives through rural areas, exploring country roads and identifying crops in fields.
And I still plant things. I guess that's why I am a gardener.