Monday, May 30, 2011


Nora will use this blog to tell stories of her childhood on the farm and her urban adventures in preparation for the Farm to Fair project.

 Poultry Barn, Indiana State Fair, 2010

We raised chickens for a few years, but I don't remember much about them, other than they were no fun to feed and the memories of butchering them. The idiom, "running around like a chicken with it's head cut off," has real-life meaning for me.

I do remember my duck. Around Easter each year the Danner's Store in Lebanon would sell baby chicks and ducks that had been dyed pastel colors. They were housed in the back of the store next to the shelf full of Little House on the Prairie and Nancy Drew books. I have a memory that the chicks were in a playpen and made quite a racket.                                                                                                                                      

Miraculously, one year Mom said yes, when we did our annual begging for one of the little fluff balls of poultry. My siblings chose chicks and I picked a duck.
We took them home and started comparing our purchases - the chicks were cute as can be and were amenable to being held. My duck was a little more obstinate, but I defended it staunchly. 

Weeks passed and the astonishingly, the pets thrived and fit right into the world of the chickens we already had. My duck was pretty independent and looked awkward as his new feathers grew in around the dyed ones. He could have been a poster duck in the ugly duckling category.

Adding fresh water to the container for the chickens to drink was part of the nightly chore of feeding them. One evening I got the bright idea to 'teach' the duck to swim in the water pan. He took to it, well, like a duck to water. Imagine my shock when I went to care for the chickens in the morning and found the baby chicks had followed the duck into the container and drowned. It was a sad sight, their little pastel bodies floating in the water. 

I'll admit that I felt a little superior to my siblings in the fact that my duck was smart enough to survive. Of course, it never occurred to me how the story would end. Let's just say that the duck left home one evening with a bottle of Dad's homemade wine in the car of one of Dad's friends. 

As kids we loved to visit the Poultry Barn at the State Fair. I'm not sure if I'm remembering the details correctly, but there was a little conveyor belt that the baby ducks rode on to land in a trough of water - I loved it! 

Somehow on our annual visits to the State Fair my parents managed to keep us from the Midway, but on the way out of the Fairgrounds we were allowed to dart in to the games area and pick a plastic duck floating in a plastic pond. The duck had a number on the bottom that corresponded to a prize. I remember always being disappointed in the prize,  wishing I could keep the plastic duck instead. I still head to the duck pond booth each year, hoping for the big prize.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Nora will use this blog to tell stories of her childhood on the farm and her urban adventures in preparation for the Farm to Fair project.

Tractor Parade, Indiana State Fair, 2010

The farm I grew up on was fairly small and our equipment fleet could be counted on one hand, but they were all green. We were a John Deere family, through and through. 

The farm that my parents bought in 1967, and Dad still lives on, came with a John Deere B Series tractor and that was the one that I drove most often. I was a pretty scrawny kid and had to use one of my legs and a foot to jam the tractor into gear - the gear box was on the floor, in front of the seat, while the other foot was on the clutch. It's amazing that it all worked and I didn't tumble off.

My tractor chores involved moving wagons full of corn to the bin and empty ones back to wait for the combine to fill up, repeat as needed, and mowing the corn stalks after harvest. Moving wagons felt stressful to me - you had to have everything lined up perfectly and timing was everything and generally their was a grizzled neighbor or a little brother watching. On the other hand I adored the solitude of mowing stalks. I could look back and see my progress and felt like I was doing something substantial - cleaning the cow barn didn't bring the same sense of satisfaction.

Best of all I loved that Dad mounted a radio on the tractor. I didn't have a record player and we didn't listen to much music at home. I could turn the radio up and sing at the top of my little lungs. I still know all of the words to the 'Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog' song, my favorite to belt out.

Parade, Indiana State Fair 2010

I always try to be at the State Fair in time for the daily parade. The parade features lots of fun stuff, but I'm all about the tractors. I've been lucky enough to hitch a ride in the parade the last few years. You are given the instructions to wave and smile - ha! Try and stop me! Riding in that parade is one of my favorite experiences of the year.