Growing Up In The Country

My life in the country as a young girl growing up.


When I was born, we lived in a small city in Alabama. When my sister was hit by a truck after she slide off the hood of the car that was parked on the street, our parents moved to the country.

It wasn’t a town but just a small place with a lot of churches and a couple of gas stations with small grocery stores inside. I remember getting off the school bus that brought me home from about ten miles away. The school was in a small yet active town.

When the county sent a road grader out to spread new gravel on the road and smooth it out, everyone was excited as the road had holes in it sometimes. Once we turned off the main road which was a four lane later, it was a two lane road that took us to our community. Then we had to turn onto a dirt road to get to our house. The road to my house was lonely as there were not anymore houses for at least a mile.

Many, many times, I walked to see a girl friend who lived on the other end of that road as I passed trees with muscadine vines growing up in them. These were a real treat in the summer if we could get them before the animals did. One spot on the road was where chert was gotten to put on the road. It left a small pond if it had rained. In this pond would be tadpoles. My sister and I was amazed at these little creatures living in the water. We knew that later, they would become frogs.

Anyway, we would walk all the way to the end of it just because that is what little children did. We could take off to play in the pasture, wade in the creek where stones were like a play ground to my sister and me. If we didn’t have chores, we played outside all day. Mom would call us from the front porch when it was time for dinner. I can still hear my mom calling my name over and over again making sure that I heard her. I would hear her and call back to her that I was coming.

Most of the homes were small and well cared for if the people owned them. Other homes were not nice at all but people had to have a place to live. Most people had wells for water without indoor plumbing. We didn’t have indoor plumbing until I was about eleven years old.

I drew more water than any little girl that I knew. The well had a bucket attached to a rope. I would drop the bucket into the well and I always watched it as it fell into the water. I would pull on the rope to see if the pail was full and when it was, I would draw it up with a crank. Imagine all the water a family of six used each day. Mom did laundry about once a week and the washing machine had to be filled as did both of the galvanized tubs, that were used to rinse the clothes.

Plus, the family bathed each night in a tub that was used to rinse the clothes in. We had to have water to wash our hair, mop the floors, do the dishes and cook with. Just think about all that one uses water for in their homes. Then imagine all of that water coming from a well in a gallon and one half bucket one bucket at a time.

A few of my friends in the area did have indoor plumbing and I thought they were rich. Me knowing that they didn’t have to go outside to an outhouse made me think they must be rich. I remember watching cars go down the two lane paved road in the summer and if the cars had their windows rolled up, I knew they had air conditioning in them. That amazed me that people had that kind of money.

The church where we attended on Sunday sat on a hill and was made of stone. It had a tall steppe on top with a cross. One Sunday, my mother forgot to put the emergency brake on and she saw the car rolling down the hill. She was about ninety-eight pounds at five foot five and being wiry and full of adventure, she ran to stop the car. I still can’t believe she jumped inside to stop that car. Afterward, mom never drove again. I think it scared her too much. Anyway, that church split as some churches do and we started to another church. We attended meetings in a small building until the members built a new church.

All of the men gathered their tools and went to help build the church. My dad was not a member but he helped. My dad was like that. He would help anyone do anything, He enjoyed it. Mom was so proud of him. At that church, I played the piano for the first time in public. To me the woman who played the piano each Sunday was wonderful. My dream was to learn to play as well as her.

During the summer after school was out, we had vacation bible school. We always attended. It would have been unheard of not to. We would study and afterward, the ladies in the church would make cookies and we would probably have cool aide to drink. This one woman made great cookies. At least to me. The cookies had a bit of jelly right in the center. They were special and a real treat.

We had a cow that had to be milked twice a day. My dad milked the cow before going to work and again in the evening after coming home. We had butter from that milk as well as buttermilk for mom to cook delicious breads. Mom and dad enjoyed drinking it but not me.

We also had chickens. There was a chicken coop out behind our house where the chickens would go to roost in the late evenings. I suppose the chickens laid their eggs before leaving the chicken coop in the mornings. I remember going into the coop to gather the eggs when the chickens were pecking away at insects, worms or whatever pleased them during the day. The sound of a rooster crowing is still one of my favorite sounds.

Mom and dad always had a huge garden where they grew about anything one could think of. People would drive from miles around just to see their garden. It really was that pretty and nice. There were never any weeds in it. I know because I learned to use a hoe early in life. Mom would get up just at day break to poison the vegetables. She said she did then because there was no wind. She would put something over her mouth because she realized she didn’t need to breath the dust. That was back when we still used DDT. However, mom knew that she couldn’t use the poison after a certain time during the growing season or the food would be contaminated.

When the garden would be filled with beans, pens, corn, okra along with other vegetables, they would have to be picked. I enjoyed it. However, I didn’t like cutting okra because if the leaves or pods touched my skin, it would make it itch. Mom always worn long sleeved shirts to cut it.

When the beans or peas were gathered in big buckets, we children would sit with mom under a shade tree to string the green beans or shell the peas to be canned. What we didn’t eat was canned and believe me, that was a lot. One year we grew some peanuts. Our soil was sandy but rich and anything would grow nicely. It was my job to keep the weeds out. I remember when the time came to pull them up. Dad made little cuts in the ground far out from the plant and then he would pull up the entire vine. The peanuts would be left turned upside down to dry in the sun.

As y’all can see, I enjoyed my life in the country. It was a fun place to live. My wish is that every child could have a chance to live at least one year like I did back when I was just a girl.

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Poison Ivy Photos

A lot of new gardeners and campers do not know what the poison ivy/oak plant looks like and get a terrible rash after contact.  It will not start to itch the first day and may take a few days to break out.  Since I can not get within a foot of it without getting a rash, I made it my mission to learn what to look for.  I wanted to share with all of my readers so they can have lovely summers instead of being in misery from the rash.

Early Spring Growth

As it matures, it changes colors.

Summer Growth

In the fall, like a lot of trees, it changes color.  You will notice that the leaves are red but they aren’t shiny like in the spring.  The are dull.

Red leaves among the younger red ones.

In some parts of the country the plant is red all of the time.

Red poison ivy

Red poison ivy

Some people will tell you that the plant has smooth edges.  Sometimes that is true but not all poison ivy plants have smooth edges.  Some like the one above have scalloped edges.

Another photo of the poison ivy with scalloped edges.

Scalloped edges of poison ivy

I have some growing in my shrubs at the moment.  All I am waiting for is someone who doesn’t have an allergy to it to remove it for me.  I will gladly give them a pair of gloves, but I want the roots removed so it will not come back.  That is how afraid I am of the plant.  I have had it too many times to every mess with it even with gloves on.

Poison Ivy in the Azeleas

Here is another shot within one foot of the one above.  It is growing on the foundation of my home.

Poison Ivy on home foundation

The main rule to remember when out in the woods hiking or gardening is this.  Three leave beware.  Do not touch anything on the ground or growing up a tree with three leaves. Speaking of growing up a tree.  Here is a photo of some.

Climbing poison ivy

One more thing.  There is a beautiful plant that some people think is poison ivy.  It is called Virginia Creeper.  I have seen it some come out with three leaves to later develop five.  It is a nice vine to grow in a fence or trellis but I warn you that it will take over in a short time.

Virginia Creeper not poison

I hope that I helped to identify this plant.  The misery from getting a rash is just too miserable.  If you do, make sure to read my other blogs about how I treat the rash.

Have a great summer but stay away from this dreadful plant.  You might not have allergies to it now but in time you may.  I didn’t start having a response to it until later in life.

Anyone reading my blog will know that I hate getting a rash from poison ivy since I write about it so much. For further reading check out my blog links below on treating the rash and how to treat your clothes and home.

Yard Design: Make It Easy To Mow

Well planned yard

Well planned yard

Many people do not consider when they plan their yard, that they need to think about designing it in such a way, as to make it easy to mow.  It is simply a matter of keeping all of the plants in areas away from the center of the yard.

If you love blooming shrubs, trees or love to have flowers blooming during the summer, give some thought to where you need to put them.  It will certainly make mowing  your yard easier in the long run.  Not only that but not having shrubs or trees in your lawn will help the grass grow better.  The grass will not be shaded by the plants and the lawn will not have to compete with the shrubs for water and food.

Have you ever driven by homes to see that they planted several blooming shrub right in the middle of the lawn?  When I see this, I cringe.   Just thinking about mowing that lawn and all the twist and turns that will need to be made makes me tired.

Here is what I have done to keep my yard easy to cut with a lawnmower.  I planted all of the  shrubs and flowers in beds on the edge of the yard.  I never put any plant right in the middle of the yard.  Any plant that is planted in the grass, will only have to be mowed around.  Plus, if I did this, I would  have to keep the grass from growing into the plant bed.   I am too lazy for that.

Keep shrubs and flowering plants to the side of the lawn and plant your shrubs and flowers near them.  Grouping plants makes a good show.  Keeping them all together, makes it easier to water as well.

If you need to plant a tree in the yard for better shading of your home, bring a planting bed in from the side of the yard to include that tree.  Keep the bed mulched to keep from having to weed it.  Mulch is great for keeping moisture in the ground and will also keep you from having to water so often.

There is nothing as nice as going out to mow your lawn and having a wide open space to mow.  It takes less time and work.  Plus, if you have a wide open lawn, it is easy to use a spreader to ferilize or to put out weed preventive products in the early spring and fall.

So, before you decide to just stick that plant into the ground, do yourself a favor and think about where you will put it to make mowing your grass easier.

Poison Oak and Ivy Rash Misery. Tips for Coping.

Beware Poison Oak and Ivy

Beware Poison Oak and Ivy

I have had so many views on poison oak and ivy rash on my first blog, that I thought I needed to add more to what I know about this rash and the poisonous plant. There are several things that need to be considered.

First, wash the clothes that you had on while exposed to it in hot water or use bleach. Bleach will not only kill it but one can also use it to kill the plant outside. Do not use full strength as you may kill other plants around it.

After getting the clothes in the washer, scrub your hands and any exposed area of your body with a product that I keep under my sink at all times. Tecnu Extreme is a scrub that cuts the oils of the plant from your skin. It has little bits of grain like sand in it. The main thing to know is to use it as soon as you can. Using it within 30 minutes of exposure is best. However, as soon as you come in give yourself a good scrubbing with this product. There is a gel made by the same company that I use to help dry it up and to keep the itching down.

Now, some thoughts on the plant. Poison Oak and Ivy both have oil in the plant. Once it gets on us, we can smear it from place to place on our bodies. Not only that, but I have come to realize that we need to wash down our gardening tools as well. The oil may still be on them the next time we use them.

What about the door knob, the counter at the sink, or anything that we have touched with our hands after getting it on us? Yes, we need to wash those things with hot soapy water as well and rinse well.

I kept getting in on my forearm and didn’t realize that the only place I would sit while resting from working outside was at a table. When I sat there, I would put my forearms on it. So, for days I kept getting the oils off of that table on my arms. Once I thought about it, I washed it down good and no more getting a new rash.

The bad part is that I feel that no matter what I do, this rash is going to last at least two weeks. It always has with me. If we get to the oils from the plant first, we can save ourselves a lot of misery. That is key.

However, if you do get it, use the gel but the main thing that helps me with the itching is an ice pack. Nothing and I mean nothing not even a doctors prescription helps more.

I have just learned of a product on the market that should prevent one from getting the oils of the plant on their skin. It is called Ivy Block. It should be used before going out where exposure to the plant is a possibility.

One should be able to find any of these products in their local drug store.

Be sure to read my other blog on how to keep the rash from itching so much.

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