The sun was hot, a good day to sit on the porch and read a "Little, Big Book". That's what I thought, but our dad thought otherwise. "There are bugs on the potatoes", he said, "and you girls will get them off the plants - today!" Ugh! Not much fun to pick reddish orange icky bugs off potato plants, but three of us were chosen for the job, my sister, her friend and I.
Each armed with a tin can, we went to the potato patch in the field, where about thirty neat rows of green plants waited for us - the air fresh with the comforting smell of freshly cultivated soil. In the spring, we helped plant potatoes (saved through the winter in a bin in the basement). Each potato was cut into sections, each section containing at least one "eye". When planted in loamy soil, the eye sprouts provided the beginning of brand new plants and ultimately produced bushels of potatoes to be harvested in the fall.
With the can in one hand we lightly touched the plant leaves, dropping the bugs into the can. Diligence was needed to find hidden creepy crawlers on both the top and bottom of each leaf. At the end of the row, we emptied our can into a pail containing kerosene, which took care of the bugs for good.
Okay, we finished that job. Now, dad had another ready - we needed to hoe the vegetable garden (which was separate from the potato garden). Guess what, when we finished that, we needed to pick raspberries which were, you guessed it, in yet another garden.
Could we rest now? Sorry, the lawn needs mowing, but since we had only one mower, we needed to take turns which allowed me to get back to the porch and the book.
Next day and another job! There were mustard weeds in the fields that needed pulling! Then mom needed us to pick gooseberries, which were across the road just behind a stand of trees. This was a good job, though, because our mother made the very best gooseberry pie in the whole country- a worthwhile reward.
We were kids! Why did we need to do all this work? Because living on the farm meant producing everything for the existence of the family. Was it fun? Sometimes. Did it hurt us? Never - it made us self-sufficient and allowed us the opportunity of working together to accomplish a common goal. There was some pride in that, as well. It was our privilege to experience those "growing up" years.
Laura W. Berglund