Monday, August 05, 2013

A Day in the Country

Uncle John and Jacob watching the jackrabbit.
My brother and I were city kids, raised in the South Side of Chicago. Oh, John had a bit of farm experience as a child--we had two uncles who had small farms, and I always remember the story of the time a horse ran away with the buggy John was in. He told Mom all he wished was to be home safe in his bed. But our knowledge of country life was slim, and he said to me yesterday he thinks a child misses a lot by not growing up in the country.
You see, John, long retired as a physician, is now a rancher, with cattle on his land. He lives in the country and is happier than I've ever seen him. Yesterday, Jordan, Jacob and I took a picnic lunch (my sister-in-law was away helping her mom move) and went to see John. We had an absolutely lovely visit.
Jacob wanted to see cows, so we got in the ranch mule (motorized) and went to look at where John had some brush cleaned away, creating more pasture land. We saw his vegetable garden, with vegetables grown in bales of hay. Then we went to the pasture across the road where the cows were hiding way back in the shade of trees or standing in the stock tank. We downplayed John's comment pointing at one yearling and saying "That's next years steaks." Jacob has seen the cattle before, but each visit brings it's new excitement.
This time, it was a jackrabbit. John spied one in some brush by the side of the road. When we stopped, he and Jacob got out to look. Of course, the rabbit put up his huge ears and sprinted out of his hiding place. I honestly don't think I've ever seen one in reality before myself. Jacob was pleased. We came home dusty, tired and hot but thoroughly happy.
John has been part-farmer for much of his life, so maybe those early trips to the farm made more impression on him than I realized. When he was in family practice in Colorado Springs, he lived on acreage and had horses and a barn. Even way back in Kirksville, Missouri, when he was in osteopathic medical school he had a barn and a couple of horses and ponies on his property (I never would ride, even the pony!). Once he cut himself on barbed wire and, overalls and all, went to the ER to get a tetanus shot. The young doctor said, "Mr. Peckham, a man in your line of work should keep up his tetanus protection." John didn't tell him he too was a medical student.

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