GARDENING BY RONELLA: Spring brings memories of working with Ma
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Mar 12, 2014 | 62 62 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We keep saying that spring is just around the corner but it really is now. March 20th is the official beginning of spring and won’t we all rejoice! Some of us are excited because we are gardeners and just can’t wait to plant. Others are joggers and bikers and they want to get outside in the sun. Others are swimmers, etc.

There are just a few reminders for gardeners. You should sow grass seeds about the middle of March so you will get the advantage of spring rains. When you are buying seeds, be sure to read the label and get seeds that are 98% free of weeds. After all who wants a lawn full of weeds. Those seeds are a bit more expensive but well worth it.

I know many gardeners want to spray for insects before they ever see any but a word of caution here. Indiscriminate spraying will kill the precious honeybees, which we need for pollinating. The answer to those who spray often is to spray late in the day when the bees have gone to rest or sleep or whatever they do at night.

When I was a little girl I spent my time divided between my parents and my mother’s parents who lived about two miles apart. I adored my grandparents and why not? They were as happy to have me as I was to go there. My sister was born when I was three years old and I spent most of my third year with Ma and Pa since Mama was so sick. Then after she was born, it sure got my nose out of joint.

My point here is that I knew the joy of spring at Ma’s more than at home. She had lots more baby chickens and I was allowed to catch them any time I could avoid the old hens. In fact, I was allowed to do most anything that was not a danger to me. I followed Ma like her shadow as I remember. I was not enamored of that baby at home and that made for a more pleasant existence. My sister cried if she was left at Ma’s.

I remember once when Mama was sick and had to go to the doctor so we two were left at Ma’s for the day and night. When bedtime came, my little sister set up a terrible howl. Nothing would stop her crying. Finally, in exasperation, Ma asked her what she wanted and she replied that she wanted to “mull” Mama’s gown. I translated that as “smell” and that she went to sleep at night holding to Mama’s gown and sucking her thumb. Pa told Ma to get a clean gown of hers out of the drawer and give it to her. Strangely, that worked and she went to sleep. I noticed that Ma and Pa were not anxious for her to visit often.

I felt so grown-up because there were so many things I could “help” with. One was that I could help Pa sharpen tools on the big grinder. That grinder sat on a platform and was really huge. It had a handle that you could turn as you poured water on it to sharpen the axes, hoes etc. It really did need someone to pour the water on the grinder as they turned it for him. That was fun for me.

It was fun to catch the frying chickens for Ma. It seemed so cruel to kill them but I learned early the procedure of getting the fried chicken at dinner. No chicken could outrun me. Ma didn’t give her chickens pet names as our daddy did at home so it wouldn’t be the same thing. It began to seem a little strange that Daddy made pets of every animal on the farm and Ma and Pa didn’t. They had no cats thus any little kittens. Ma, who was so tolerant of every living thing, did not like cats. I imagine I wondered about that but Ma was perfect so I probably didn’t wonder long.

Spring was the time Pa plowed the river bottom fields that he rented for a corn crop. He would hitch his two mules, Kate and Ellen, to the wagon to haul the plough and the disc to those fields, about two miles. There might come a time when he would just need to take the mules down to the bottom fields and that was where I would enter the scene. He might let me ride one mule while he rode the other. Those mules were so docile that there was no danger but I was thrilled at how far down the ground was. I don’t remember how old I was the first time I got to go with him to the “bottom” but it was as young as five, I think. I only got to go when he was making a round trip to the field where the wagon was. He would hitch the mules to the wagon and turn around and ride back in the wagon.

I knew the dangers on their farm as well as the fun. Ma’s old cow was one mean devil. I thought she called her “Sue Craidy”, when actually she was calling, “Sook, Reddy” so I called her Sue Craidy which gave them lots of laughs.

There were lots of things I never got to do on their farm. I never got to learn to milk old Sue Craidy, or rob the bees at the hives down at the orchard, or ride the big mower but there were many, many fun things going on at the old farm when spring finally came.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions or comments.
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