It's been several years since I've visited my Grandma Churchill's old home and dairy farm just outside of Mansfield, Mo., but it's about this time of summer that always look back at the lazy days of spending time with her and my sister there. For Grandma, it was anything but lazy, as she rose at 5:30, cooked a full breakfast complete with biscuits, gravy, eggs and bacon, and then headed out to the dairy barn to start milking the cows. While Grandma was at the barn, my sister and I would wash the dishes, listen to Captain & Tennille records on the phonograph and then head up the hill on a rocky path, pass the cob-webby cellar and climb over a barbed wire fence to visit her and my two uncles who helped her earn a meager living.
The barnyard was full of cows and a bull, stray guinea fowl and white chickens. Cats milled around the milking room covered with white lime waiting for a squirt of warm milk that Grandma would aim in their direction, and get tickled at her own actions. Sometimes, we were allowed to drop grain from a coffee can into the troughs that distracted the cows as machines dangled and chugged. As soon as the milk was rendered and stored in a cooler for safe keeping, we would helpGrandma clean up the milking paraphernalia. We always got a kick out of washing the gigantic bottles used to feed the calves who were kept safely away from the rest of the herd.
The barn is still there, but in a bit of disrepair. You can see the old troughs in the milking room, and the wooden slats that kept the cows in place during their twice-daily ritual. Around the side, near the feed room where all the cats had their kittens (and I'm sure where more than a few mice daringly called home), you can see through the broken glass the milk cooler in front of the old sink where we used to sing songs and tell stories with Grandma as we "helped" her get her work done.
After days of romping in the creek that was called Flat Rocks, picking tomatoes in Grandmas rag-tag garden, playing with puppies and kittens all day long, and pretty much coming and going as we pleased, Mom and Dad would soon return to fetch us and take us back to Independence, where we would soon start yet another school year. I'm certain my mom and dad loved the break, and so did we. And the carefree days of being a city kid on a farm in the Ozarks linger to this day.
Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,
The Elegant Thrifter