KARA: "You, at one point, ran a dairy farm, right? My great-grandfather had a dairy farm – I remember helping there as a young girl. How difficult was it to run a dairy farm? Give us an idea of what was involved. Were your kids expected to help? I’m sure you taught your children the value and importance of work – how did they respond?"
MARIE: "We bought the family dairy farm from my husband's parents in 1975 and moved to the farm. We had five daughters at the time and I was pregnant with child #6. I am a city girl who mostly lived on the outskirts of town, so I'm sort of a country girl and I visited my farm cousins in the summer. That, plus my staying with my grandparents as a child on their farm while my mom worked, was my sole experience of farm living! Basically, we brought this city mom to the farm with all the homemaking skills needed to survive and raise a happy family who loved being together. I baked 8 loaves of bread each week and we always ate one for a snack of hot bread and butter with honey or frozen strawberry jam slathered on top with a glass of cold cow's milk. It was and still is my favorite snack!
For me, the hardest part of farm life was haying time. I had to have meals right on time, be ready with ice water when the bale truck came in to unload the hay bales, let the kids know when Dad was coming so they could jump up and be ready to get onto the truck and go load more bales. Growing season was very short in Turnerville and we had to get the hay cut, baled, bales rolled in line, and loaded, then unloaded in the hay shed before the rain came, and we never knew if or when it would rain when the hay was cut! I was on my own in the house during those hours so all the kids could help their dad. It was a way of life. We worked hard and played hard when it was all done. Our kids entertained themselves wonderfully while they worked. They made up words to sing to church hymns like "Onward, Holy Rollers!" while they were rolling and lining up bales for the driver to pick up on the hay loading machine. Our kids were just awesome and very creative when under that kind of pressure and they still have great memories of it all. The girls took turns helping their dad with milking cows, but Linda and Kathy were Allen's best helpers. Linda had a knack for the veterinarian part and Kathy just loved being her dad's right-hand "man". If her dad called her name, I didn't see her again till she finished her assignment. We gave instructions and let the kids take care of the chores assigned to them. Were there problems? Of course! Aren't there always problems in a family, especially when someone decides to be in charge?
One of the problems we faced was getting our 4-H projects completed by August with all the haying, moving water pipes, and milking that had to be done. Allen was wonderful about letting a couple kids free, whenever possible, to be with me to bottle fruit in season, make jams and jellies, etc., to sew, make a quilt, complete competitions posters, etc. for 4-H. The pressure really mounted as July was ending and the kids may have planned on too many things to sew for that year. Sometimes their craft projects took a backseat or an outfit wasn't completed. It just meant less ribbon money for the kids, which was also important to them for extra school clothes shopping.
We lived on a very tight budget while living on the farm and we all knew it. Babysitting was a real help for our girls to earn extra money and they looked forward to those opportunities. We would also pay a daughter to babysit for us so we could have an evening free and to help balance out the extra needed money.
One of my great joys and passions on the farm were my two gardens. I grew two huge gardens, one on the south side of our house and one on the north side of the house. I had a huge raspberry patch on the south and a huge strawberry patch on the north that I groomed and kept tidy all those years for the best crop yield. Next to those berry patches, I grew green beans, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, onions, radishes on the south side, and peas, and 60-70 broccoli plants, about 10 cauliflower plants, and a few cabbages on the north side of the house. I weeded, with our children's help, harvested and froze or bottled green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower each summer. I had wonderful soil and a lush, beautiful garden every year. We also bottled lots of pickles from purchased cucumbers. I had 10-15 rows of carrots that were dug each fall and stored in milk cans in our basement for winter use. Potatoes were a hard vegetable to raise because of our frost problems, so we harvested and ate what we could, but mostly bought large sacks of potatoes to store in our basement for winter. There's just nothing like garden vegetables to eat fresh from the garden,or stored properly all winter. I miss that part of the farm the most, even though I usually grow some vegetables by my house here in Laramie each summer.
We had to be sure our budget balanced all the time. We did without a lot of things, but the Lord blessed us for our efforts and paying our tithes and offerings. That was one thing we always taught our children: If you want the blessings, you make the sacrifice willingly and with love in your heart. The blessings will come. The bills have to be paid, even if we have to go without something we really need. People need to know you are honest and dependable. You have to earn trust. It isn't a gift."
KARA: "You’ve been described as “the best listener, advisor, and friend”. Tell us how you feel about listening – is it important? When someone would come to you with problems, how did you counsel them? How important is friendship to you?"
MARIE: "Listening has always been a difficult thing for me. When I was younger I always thought people came to me with problems because they needed advice. I was LOADED with advice, freely given, wanted or not. I had an iron-clad theory - if you don't want my advice, don't cry to me about your problems. If you don't take my advice, I don't give it again. Pretty hard-core of me. I've learned so much since then. People don't necessarily come with problems to get advice; they need someone to listen to them and validate their feelings. I could have been such a better friend if I'd only realized that 20 years ago! Yes, I was a very good listener, but I was formulating a solution for my talker the whole time I should have been just listening! Shame on me! I did give lots of counsel and advice and much of it was taken and practiced, so perhaps I helped a few people. And I have to admit there were many times after listening to people that I just had to say, "I'm so sorry. I wish I could help you or give you some advice." Those were the times I knew my ideas would never work for them, or they didn't have the courage to take that first step forward toward change in their lives.
I now know that a lot more about listening skills and helping a person come to their own conclusions about how to work through problems, one at a time. Being a Relief Society (LDS Women's Organization) President taught me so much about that! Leopard spots don't scrub off for a smooth coat of new paint! But watching so many wonderful people change their lives in the Gospel during our 23 years in Laramie has truly taught me how the Savior's plan of repentance and change to a new heart works. It comes from within, not without. Our love and support help that person work within him- or herself to become what the Lord wants him/her to be. We are merely instruments in His work and glory on this earth."
I'm loving this interview! Here are a few more of Marie's favorites:
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Anne Murray and Neil Diamond
"Some day we'd love to take a cruise trip up the coast to Alaska. We were going to go on our 45th wedding anniversary, but it didn't happen because we went to Hawaii for 8 days at Christmas that year instead, with the whole family except one grandson whose dad wouldn't let him go. 40 of us went, including my 90-year-old mother. It was lots more fun than a cruise to Alaska by ourselves, and a memory none of us will ever forget. Yes, it was costly, but we spent all our children's inheritance money to go and no one turned us down to get the money! What a great Christmas we had with sunshine, rain, wind, 75-degree weather, and lots of sight-seeing. Everyone wants to go again, but they'll have to pay their own way next time!!!"
Date Night Ideas:
"Dating after Marriage - It really bothered our older girls that Allen and I would want to go out on a date and leave them at home with a sitter. I would simply explain to them that before we had children, there was just the two of us. One day all our wonderful children would find a person to marry and would leave us and we'd be alone again, just the two of us. Then I'd explain how very important it is to keep that one-on-one relationship alive so we still want and love each other after the children have gone off and gotten married, leaving us alone again. I've seen so many marriages fall apart after the kids leave because the parents didn't bother to nurture their relationship with each other while the kids were growing up. I didn't want that to happen to us. We've worked hard to stay close and be a partnership and have an eternal marriage. Who wants to live for eternity with a stranger we may not even like?! I want to love my husband as passionately and deeply throughout eternity, or more, as I do here on earth. It just has to get better, don't you think?!"
Check out the recipes that Marie contributed on the sidebar. See you all tomorrow!