In my post from Tuesday (that should have gone up Monday, but was delayed), I talked briefly about all the fruit we have at our new place and how it reminded me of summers at my grandparents’ farm.  I’d intended to get back to that in my post from yesterday (again, delayed), but I ended up going a different direction.  So today, let’s take that trip to Grandpa and Grandma’s house.

My grandparents lived on a farm about half an hour away from us.  My grandmother lived all but six months of her life on that farm, as it had been passed down through the years from one generation to the next.  It’s a century farm, and I’m proud to be part of that tradition, even though the acreage has been sold off and all that’s left now is crop ground.  I’d like to someday buy the acreage back, but so far, no luck (the one time it was up for sale, the timing was just not right and we couldn’t do it *sigh*).

When I was little, the acreage included much more than it does now.  When you turned in the driveway, the house was on the right and the old garage was on the left.  The old garage has now been leveled, but the foundation remains, and the new owners put up a basketball hoop.  Just west of the old garage was a corn crib, which I believe still stands, and to the west of that was a barn.  It was lost in a fire several years ago – the new people had heating lamps in the barn for some animals, and somehow the place caught fire.  If it hadn’t been for a passing fireman, of all people, the whole farm might have burned.

This toybox survived me and my sister (until she got her own).  Now it belongs to Bubbles and, so far, it's survived him, too. :)

This toybox survived me and my sister (until she got her own). Now it belongs to Bubbles and, so far, it’s survived him, too. 🙂

To the west of the house stood my grandfather’s wood shop.  He loved working with wood, and he was quite good at it, too – half of my furniture was made by him.  When I was little, he would sometimes let me help with things he was working on – I remember the first time I cut a Christmas ornament on his jigsaw, and the first time he let me use his woodburner to write a message on a keychain, and his large assortment of paints, all coded with a drop of paint on the cap.

Across from the wood shop was a swingset.  I think he must have made it himself, because I’ve never seen a teeter totter so tall (and it led to crushing disappointment with every other teeter totter I’ve ever encountered).  The up end was at least six feet off the ground, but it always felt higher.  West of the wood shop was a huge machine shed; south of that, at the end of the driveway, sat the shop where Grandpa ran his small engine repair business.  I still think of him every time I smell that shop scent; I spent countless hours in there “helping” Grandpa with his various projects.

If not for Grandpa, I might not have learned the proper pronunciation of Tecumseh till I was much older. 😀

There was another old out-building behind that, and further to the west were a couple of old foundations from buildings that were long gone by the time I came along.  One was the foundation for an old silo, and even though we weren’t supposed to, my sister and I loved playing on it.  Of course, the metal did tend to burn one’s feet, so you had to be careful…

They also had a well.  The novelty of drinking well water thrilled me to pieces, and I still think of that metallic taste the water had with a sense of satisfaction.

Opa and Bubbles, two big kids. :)

Opa and Bubbles, two big kids. 🙂

But the best part about Grandpa and Grandma’s house was that it was flanked by trees.  On the west, there was a grove full of trees just begging to be explored, and on the east, there was an orchard.  When I was little, there were rows and rows of apple trees.  I remember a plum tree and a cherry tree, too, though they both bit the dust when I was pretty little.  Grandma always had a huge garden, and it lay on the south side of the orchard.  When I was little, my uncle used to plant pumpkins in it and they would grow to enormous size (or at least they were enormous to me – I have a picture of me when I was three where I fit entirely on top of the pumpkin).  I remember one time my sister and I were helping Grandpa dig potatoes when a hapless garter snake passed my sister.  She flipped out!  She and Grandma shared the opinion that the only good snake is a dead snake, and she wouldn’t rest till Grandpa had speared it with his pitchfork.

In the grove, though, is where the best fruit could be found.  Raspberry brambles grew along the side of the machine shed, twining their way around the mulberry trees that edged the grove.  On the north side of the grove, elderberry bushes grew along the edge of the ditch.  I was always afraid to pick those, though, because as a kid, I couldn’t tell the difference between elderberries and nightshade, but I knew I didn’t want to eat nightshade.  I could sometimes talk my dad into picking a few elderberries for me, but more often than not, he ate them on the way back and I got maybe one.

Our new house already has a handful of apple trees and a lovely big rhubarb plant, too.  I’m particularly excited about the rhubarb, because then I won’t have to worry about killing it while trying to establish it like I did the last time (me and my black thumb), and I love strawberry rhubarb sauce.  There are also some raspberry brambles, and we’ve talked about transplanting some of the bushes that Seymour’s parents have at their house.  I adore raspberries, so I don’t think it’s possible to have too many of them.  But I also want to plant some mulberry trees, and when I said so, I was surprised to learn that Seymour had never had mulberries.  I’m not sure where we’ll plant the trees, but there seem to be quite a few dying trees on the property, so maybe we can just replace them with mulberry trees… 😀

(c) 2013.  All rights reserved.


20 thoughts on “Fruitful

  1. Roger says:

    All tha growing stuff gives me the shivers. That’s why my back garden (such as it is) is paved with giant concrete slabs. Couldn’t grow anything here anyway. The air in London is positively toxic.


  2. Deb Stone says:

    I can almost see the orchard you describe with the apple trees. I have no experience with mulberry or elderberries, so not sure about them. I take it one is a tree and the other a bush? What do they taste like? I hope you get that one more move someday.


    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Mulberries grow on trees and elderberries come in bush form. They’re both sweet berries, or at least I remember elderberries being sweet, anyway. I know you can make wine out of them (as in the Monty Python gag, “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries!”). Mulberries make a great crisp, but I think the last time I had mulberry crisp, I was a kid. Grandma probably made it, as a matter of fact. 🙂


  3. Satia says:

    My grandmother died when my mother was 13 so I never met her. And I was 12 before I learned my grandfather was actually alive and then by accident. He had disowned my mother when I was born (illegitimate, don’t you know). For years we wrote letters and he would say he hoped to come visit someday. He never did, never met me or my children. I envy those who have good memories of their grandparents. My grandfather was not a good man. For all my envy, I think my life was okay with just a pen-pal relative, all things considered.


    • Kay Kauffman says:

      I never met my paternal grandmother, either – she died about 40 years before I was born. And my dad wasn’t close to his dad, so I really didn’t know him, either. That’s too bad that you weren’t able to have a closer relationship with your grandfather, but maybe you’re right and it was for the best? At least you got to know him a little bit through letters. 🙂


  4. separatedinsudbury says:

    What luck about the firemen! This is one of those stories where the middle might seem out of place (I can picture it now — Fireman 1: Dude, you missed the regular turn! Fireman 2: What? No. Okay, maybe yes. Hey, is that a fire?) and only makes sense when you have the whole picture — the joy and the challenge about life.


    • Kay Kauffman says:

      It really was lucky – the day the barn caught fire was really windy, so if the fire hadn’t been contained, it could have easily spread to the other buildings. And no one was home, so that could have been catastrophic for the family there.


  5. *tara says:

    That is indeed crazy about the firemen.

    So jealous of your apple trees and other fruits at the new place. Not that I know anything about keeping plants alive either, but it sounds magical!


    • Kay Kauffman says:

      It’s so pretty! The boys loved picking apples this weekend. I’m glad all the plants and things are established, because otherwise, I don’t think they’d stand a chance with me at the hose. 😀

      You’ll have to stop by sometime once we get all settled and you’re around. Amber joked that every time she comes back, we’re in a new house, so I told her she just needs to visit more often. 😉


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