Thursday, January 31, 2008

Childhood Home

As children most of us do not appreciate what we have because we do not know any different. Only as I look back as my adult self (aged that is) I realize more and more just how lucky we really were. My preschool years were spent in a very tiny town called Durkee. I will talk another time about the memories I have of Durkee but I wanted to focus on the place I lived the majority of my upbringing. We moved to Baker when I was in the middle of second grade. Dad's dream was to have a few acres of land to farm and he managed to find an older couple with fifteen acres that wanted to sell. He later went on to add another ten acres to make twenty-five. Because there were five of us children and later seven, this was a great place for us to roam around. The house was not large....just three bedrooms, one bathroom, a large living room and small kitchen. The bedroom we three older girls shared doubled as a laundry room as well. Mom and Dad's bedroom was adequate for them especially since they put a crib in there soon. The other bedroom was very, very small. No closet and yet my three bothers shared this room for several years until my older sisters left home. I then moved in and traded rooms so that my brothers would have more space. This room later became my youngest sisters bedroom after I left home.

Here is the house and barn from a distance. My mom sold this and kept five acres to build on. The view is absolutely spectacular from all sides. As a child I never paid any attention to this and how unusual it is to have had this view. We were so busy roaming the mountains and playing freely that it was taken for granted. I grew up spending enormous amounts of time playing in the barn, swinging on a rope from the rafters and jumping in the bales of hay. My brother John was what I used to call a dump digger. By that I mean he would spend entire days up in the mountains at old homesteads that were abandoned digging through the areas where they dumped all their garbage. He has a huge collection of old bottles (green and blue glass) and such that is probably worth quite a bit of money from all of his forays.

This house had a dugout cellar where mom stored the potatoes, onions and apples from our orchard as well as her canned goods. I was always afraid to go down there at night because there were bats and they would dive bomb your head. During the day it didn't bother me. There is also an old pond that was out by the county road but still part of the property where we spent lots of time catching frogs and salamanders. Later my dad dug another pond for the animals across the field by the county road. Our orchard consisted of many apple trees, one sweet Bing cherry tree, one huge pie cherry tree and many plum trees. We always had an abundance of food even though by many standards we were pretty poor. We raised our own meat, eggs, milk and garden. We lacked for clothing sometimes but managed to make it without the trappings of most of the kids from town.

This is a view from behind the property where most of those old homesteads used to be. All of the houses are long gone of course but if you know where to look you can stumble across some of the remains. We used to ride horses up in these mountains and take picnic lunches quite often. One of our favorite places to ride to was called "Top Forty". This was the top forty acres of the Coen property which we were riding on. It was a beautiful meadow surrounded by mountains and trees and a creek. We did this without our parents and I often wonder how we were so blessed to have all survived our childhood. We didn't give it a second thought to tell mom where we were going nor did mom and dad seem to worry much.

This is a veiw from my mom's property to the side. This is the spot she chose to build on so it is just above where the old home is. Never mind the junk and stuff. It is still a pretty view.

My mom's newer house. See that red tractor? That is the tractor we grew up driving to feed the cows, sheep and horses in the winter and to do the haying in the summer. I also drove head first into an apple tree with that same tractor with a full wagon load of hay. My dad, brothers, uncle and cousin on top of the hay. I was watching behind me as I drove because we were crossing a small ditch. Bam....into the tree I went going oh, about 2 miles an hour. No harm done but I paid more attention after that. I was probably around eleven or so.

Mom's yard....she loves planting but as usual had problems with the deer just as I do at this end of Oregon. I don't remember this huge problem when I was a kid. The coyotes were the thing that I remember having issues with. They would come in close and kill the sheep. Mom kept a German Shepherd dog close which helped.

We had the open space and freedom to roam about yet we had chores like milking, feeding the animals and house cleaning but those are the things that taught us to be responsible adults. We also had a mother that taught us to follow through with any project we began. We were involved in 4-H as well as school activities. Poor in some peoples opinion but rich in love and laughter, sometimes at the expense of our mother. More stories later.


Junebug said...

Beautiful pictures and memories. I love stories about home life. Things weren't easy but when you're children that's not the most important thing.

carrie & troy keiser said...

That is a beautiful area. We only had 5 acres growing up but I remember having a lot of freedom, that my children do not have here in the city {albeit a small city}.