Thursday, March 12, 2009
Just the other day, someone at work asked me about life growing up on a Dairy Farm. "Wasn't it idealic?" they asked. "You must have really loved your childhood."
True enough. I grew up with acres of land to explore, a river running through it, and a home where our nearest neighbors were much more than a stones throw away. Yes, it was terrific. But it wasn't all sitting on fence rails, fishing and picking four-leaf clovers. Not at all!
Case in point: My first job. I had participated in certain chores around the farm since I was old enough to walk. That's how you roll when you're a farm boy. But my first official job was far from the glamourous paper routes or lemonade stands that many city kids enjoyed.
No, for my first job I was placed in charge of the Pee Bucket. Warning . . . the following description is graphic.
Back in the early 70's our dairy had a flat milking parlor. This meant that, instead of the cows standing on waist-high grates to be milked, they were brought into a room with a flat concrete slab. No grates, just a shallow channel behind them - with no drain.
So, when these milk cows decided it was time to relieve themselves (which, by the way, happens constantly) someone needed to run up behind them and catch the said waste. Yes, you guessed it. At the tender age of approximately 7 years old, I was dipatched to keep an eagle-eye focused on batch after batch of milk cows lined up 8 in a row. And, whenever anyone in the parlor spotted a tail lifting or a hunching back (sure signs that an liquid onslaught was coming), the loud cry went out "PEE BUCKET!"
It was then my duty to run over and grab a rusty old 3 gallon metal pail and hold it up as close as I could behind the urinating animal to successfully catch as much of the steaming hot pee as I could. All the while I had to move the bucket back and forth until the bitter end as the flow fluctuated in strength and the urine spattered off the bottom of the metal pail, pelting my averted face like raindrops on a late autum morning.
I then had to gingerly lug the full pail of steaming yellow fluid to an open door, using care not to make any sudden move which would send it sloshing over the sides, increasing the odds of my slipping, falling and dumping the whole bucket all over me. I did this for at least 5 years after school and on weekends.
Idealic? Now you know why farmers really have kids. And I'm not even going to mention what we had to do with the shovel.
I think I'll discourage the lemonade stand for Lukas and push him towards a paper route.
Posted by James (SeattleDad) at 1:33 PM