When I was five we bought a plot of land. Dad and mom worked it as a homestead and gave us all jobs to do. I had the kittens to herd and the ducklings and chicks to feed. I dragged my little red bucket around filled with grain and I felt important and vital to the cause.
When I was ten and my older brother moved out (almost) and went off to college, we packed his car full of his stuff and me and my older sister waved our parents and Jimmy off. We girls were in charge of the whole “Damn Farm!” because we were responsible and reliable and that’s what our family needed right now. Or so Jasmine said.
We cleaned the whole kitchen while Mom was away. Not that it wasn’t clean already, but we pulled everything out of the cupboards and clean the LOT (one cupboard at a time, we couldn’t have everything out all-over – we’d never get it all back in its rightful place and lord knows! Mom would pitch a FIT if we rearranged Anything!)
Because the kitchen was sparkly clean in no time flat (OK, it took a whole day), we got to working on the bathroom and the washing. We had lines of clean clothes flapping in the breeze and we were tired-out but boy! We were happy.
Mom and Dad stayed overnight in a motel so they could help Jimmy move and settle in, then they were on their way home. They’d be back early in the evening, possibly just after it got dark.
Jasmine had had enough of the ‘women’s work’ and she said, “Come on, Jewel, grab dad’s fishing pole, I have a plan.”
Off we girls went on a massive adventure. We trekked off over the far field, checking fences and mending them as and when necessary and we found the most idyllic spot, just on the boundary of our land.
Pretty sure it was ours, but in the years we’d been living here, it had never crossed anyone’s mind to explore.
What we found was nothing short of an oasis.
A field dappled in sunlight shafting in through the trees, dotted with apple, cherry and peach trees, our own little orchard. A trickle of a stream fed in to a long man-made trough of water with a high bank on one side and the whole field was fenced and secure, despite all the years of neglect (because we’d not even known it was there!)
“This is awesome! We can put the cattle and ponies here. They’ll love the fruit trees and it will give the pasture time to rest. I wonder why Daddy hasn’t used this before?” Jasmine said.
A fish splashed in the man-made trough and we dipped our poles in the water.
That evening, we were exhausted from our adventure and cleaning the fish, but mom and dad had a feast waiting for them. Trout from the stream, carp from the trough, veggies from the garden, wild garlic from our walk and peach cobbler for dessert.
The kitchen and bathroom sparkling clean, the washing all done and best of all, our pest of a brother was out of the way, not causing trouble… (he was no trouble really, and we loved him).
All the kittens were herded (I didn't realise it was a made-up job), the ducks, chicks and geese all fed, the cows in the barn and the ponies groomed. Our folks wouldn't believe their eyes.