The space we had growing up on a farm was space we all appreciated. The dinner table and our bedrooms could have offered more room for us to share, but it worked. The great outdoors was always in ample supply though.
We had a large yard surrounding our house, not to mention fields and pastures, wooded areas, a creek, and a long driveway. We had areas to play and run together, as well as ways to give ourselves our own space to escape to when needed.
Our yard was smaller in the front and on the sides of our house. The driveway was in front, with the barn yard on one side and a machine shed on the other. The backyard was the biggest area, though shared with clotheslines, our sizable garden, several apple trees, and a couple of buildings.
My favorite spaces surrounded sports and games. A basketball hoop got plenty of action in the warmer months. Many a game of “horse” was played there. I spent hours working on my shot too. A swing set, a tire swing, a teeter totter, and a unique version of a merry-go-round all provided many hours of fun, and bickering too. We played well together at times, and not so well at others. We wore the grass bare where we played hours of catch, mostly with a softball, but footballs and frisbees got thrown in the mix too.
We had room to play softball and “500” too. We had a home plate area worn bare and the corner of the woodshed was first base. We would often throw a glove or something down to mark second base, amidst the various clothes lines. Third base was the edge of that unique merry-go-round or sometimes a tree. When no one else was interested in playing softball, I could throw the ball against the concrete of our back porch and get a grounder back to me.
We rode bikes up and down the long driveway. None of us escaped skinned knees. There’s nothing like getting yourself up after a mishap and having to pick little pebbles out of your knees. We didn’t each have our own bike, so we shared the two or three that we did have. One bike had wide handle bars and a rack on the back. It was good fun for us to see how many we could pile on that bike and still get it moving. I seem to recall we had seven of us on it once, but it was a short trip. My favorite bike was one we got new. It was purple with a banana seat. That was a cool ride.
The garden was a focal point of our large yard. It was large enough to have rows of potatoes, sweet corn, beans, peas, onions, carrots, tomatoes, and beds of strawberries, cucumbers, and squash. From the time the first radishes, kohlrabi, and lettuce were planted each spring to the last tomatoes and squash hanging on before the first frost, we spent many hours helping in the garden.
I liked to hoe the weeds and use the push plow we had that fit nicely between the rows. Picking strawberries or beans or peas was sometimes drudgery, but we knew we would enjoy our efforts at a meal real soon so that made it easier to bear. One of my favorite meals was when we would have new potatoes and creamed peas for the first time each early summer. Fresh from the ground and vine to the table simply can’t be beat for taste.
We enjoyed exploring and playing in the wooded areas and hills of our farm. I especially recall looking for fossils and other rocks on a particular hillside in the pasture where the pigs were. And the fun after a rainfall of helping the rain runoff find its way to the creek. In the woods nearest the house, my sisters and I would play house. We would clear and mark off our own areas among the trees and “furnish” them with logs for seats and other creative features.
Summer meant longer days and plenty of daylight. We used it all. First taking care of our chores and the work that needed to be done, but playing and running, and maybe fighting a little, the rest of the time. We would end some warm summer nights with games in the dark, played around the house. In fact, one of the games was called “around the house,” along with “hide and seek” and “no bears out tonight.”
It’s a wonder we didn’t suffer more injuries running around in the dark like that. What a good way to wrap up a full day before reluctantly heading into the house for the night. And a good way to wrap up the memories of that big yard we enjoyed so much so long ago now.