Why “The Country Wife”
Years ago, soon after we started raising children, my husband, a school teacher at the local junior/senior high school, noticed that the farm kids at school were the best citizens of the school, i.e. they contributed the most in positive ways…taking part in extra-curricular activities, studying hard, treating other students decently. He thought it must have something to do with their upbringing as farmers’ children. He wanted the same for our children. He had been born in the city and I had been raised on a dairy farm in central Vermont.
So, the fall we were expecting our third child (and only daughter), we decided to erect a small barn on our 2.6 acres to accompany the log cabin that he had previously built, and in which we lived. Thereby the process of becoming the owners of a very small family farm began. The first creature we planned to add to the projected menagerie was to be a family cow.
We had purchased a very old pickup truck. In that old dusty green vehicle I drove, with our two small boys, to a lumber mill in Canaan, New Hampshire where we purchased lumber for a small barn. The boards were 16 feet long, in an 8-foot truck bed. The boards we needed completely filled to the top the body of the truck. As the boys and I were slowly driving through town on the homeward journey we came to a place where the town road crew was out working on filling potholes.
You will have heard the old saw that “one boy is a good boy, two boys are half a boy, and three boys is no boy at all”. It was my experience that the same could be said of grown men on that particular day. As I slowed to a stop to avoid running into the men, they looked up from their work, saw the overloaded truck with a woman at the wheel and started leaning on their shovels, breaking out into laughter. One of the men was a bit more jocular, and daring, than the other two. He came up to the front of the truck, reached down and put his hand under the front bumper and lifted the truck off the ground. All three men nearly split a gut laughing and the little boys and I nearly passed out with distress.
Eventually we were able to pass by these men and continue our trip home. Normally it only takes about forty-five minutes to drive to Canaan from our home in Vermont, but on this day I realized I needed to go the “back way” home due to the necessity of driving VERY slowly, thus I took the long way around Goose Pond. More than two hours later than we were expected home we arrived to find a very worried dad, but we did make the trip with no more incidents.
This was the beginning of “The Country Wife” in earnest. We had already instituted vegetable, fruit tree, and berry gardening, as well as chickens and, briefly, ducks and geese (these last two ending disasterously and were never repeated!), making all our food from scratch including buying whole wheat and making our own flour for bread-making.