In honor of National Agriculture Week, I will be sharing my own “memories of a former kid” growing up on a rural Nobles County family farm. Check back each day this week for some of my most memorable experiences of farm life.
Whenever Mom was upset with us kids about leaving our dirty laundry on the floor or our dinner dishes on the table, she’d often ask, "What’s the matter with you? Were you born in a barn?"
Often, I’d reply, "Well, that wouldn’t have been so bad!"
The barn was a great haven on the family farm … it still is.
When I was growing up, I spent hours out in the barn. Most of the time, I’d grab a five-gallon bucket, tip it upside down and sit in the goat pen among my herd of pets. I’d watch them eat their feed, chew their cud and pick through the alfalfa and grass hay mixture.
I’d let the kid goats chew on my shoe laces and Butterscotch chew on my coat. Trav could spend half an hour rubbing her head up and down my arm as I told her about my day, while Misty would be standing in the corner – grinning because her bottom jaw stuck out just a bit more than it should have.
The goat pen was my refuge. For my three brothers, it was the haymow.
As much time as I’d spend chattering with my goats, the boys would spend upstairs shooting hoops.
I can remember when the makeshift court was created up there. A piece of plywood passes for a backboard, while the hoop is nothing more than an orange rim. To us farm kids, it was good enough.
When our basketball court – a clearing in the center of the haymow, surrounded by stacked bales of hay and straw – was still a novelty, I’d play along with the boys. We’d play H-O-R-S-E, and when we didn’t have time for a lengthy match-up, we’d shorten it to P-I-G, C-O-W or G-O-A-T. On rare occasions, we’d lengthen it to D-O-N-K-E-Y.
I’m pretty sure I never won any of the games. Basketball just wasn’t for me.
These days, it’s the next generation of Buntjer kids that gathers in the haymow. Oh, there’s some basketball still being played up there from time to time, but mostly the haymow floor has become a race track for the pedal tractors.
The four-year-olds, niece Katie and nephew Reece, love to go out to the barn, climb the ladder and play among the hay and straw bales in the haymow. They call it the "hay mountain."
A century ago, the barn was considered one of the most important buildings on a farm. Many farm families built a place for their livestock before they built a place for themselves on newly homesteaded land.
It’s pretty safe to say that if walls could talk, the barn on the Buntjer farm could share more stories than the house ever could.