One day the wind was blowing terrifically, and Mama and I were alone on the Farm at the time. The windmill was spinning round and round so fast, it was fit to fly away! But something was wrong. We noticed that a part had come loose at the top of the windmill, disconnected from the metal rod that connected to the pump that brought the water up. With the windmill going so fast the whole thing was going to fly apart before our eyes. Something had to be done--but Papa was gone. I was about twelve years old. Imagine Mama trying to climb up there! She would never have tried it. So I climbed up the steps of the exactly 30 ft. tall windmill. Then I grabbed a wooden part connected to the windmill and rammed it against the windmill frame, and suddenly it stopped spinning out of control. Was Papa ever surprised when he came home and found out what we did to save the windmill! I owe it to my Mama's prayers that all went well, and we got the windmill stopped before the wind could wreck it. The water it pumped really helped us a lot, for otherwise we had to pump the water for the cows by hand.
"Papa's Gift of Agility"
For those who know the program, there's a wonderful tapdancer on Lawrence Welk that can really jig. He's isn't the only one. Papa too could jig up a storm and also do amazing things, which I have never seen anyone else do, especially at his age. He would jig for us at home sometimes. He had to be on a floor to do it. One thing he could do was to jump over his folded hands held in front of him. He could do this well into the 1940s, when he must was in his fifties. We kids tried it and could never do it. We all got a good laugh at our awkward attempts. I tried and tried but couldn't copy Papa. How he learned to do that is beyond me. That was his special talent. But he was a man of many special talents--water locating with a stick for many farmers all around, well-digging, auctioneering, band leading, and many other things. Was there anyone like Papa? There couldn't be many who people who can jump over his own handshake!
My Dad would bridle up the horse and put Bernice and me on it, and send us off to school when we were both in the first grade (Papa wouldn't let me go alone to school, so he held me back one year so I could go with my sister). This was a country school, two and a half miles away from the Farm. We went through the fields and didn't use the road. Papa wouldn't let us use the road, as he was very cautious. One morning Bernice was sick and couldn't go with me. So Papa sent me on, and I didn't get very far, for the horse lay down. I right away thought the horse sensed something something was wrong because Bernice wasn't aboard. I hit and kicked and still couldn't get it to budge. I knew if I got off, I couldn't get back on--not on that high a horse. We never had saddles in those days, just rode bareback. I didn't want to get late for school, so I started off walking. As I got down over the hill, I looked back, and saw the horse get up and start off for home. I had a long walk that day to get there to school in time!
"Horses Can Do Amazing Things!"
One day I had to have the horse to help me get the cows out of the Slough where the water was up to over their knees. Papa wanted me to bring them home. But the cows loved the grass that grew above the water, and I found I couldn't get them to move out of the Slough. All they wanted was to keep on grazing on that delicious, juicy grass. What was I to do? I had to get them home! The only thing I could think of was to command my horse, "Bite 'em!" Well, guess what? My horse actually bit the cows in their tails! And did they ever scramble to get out of that Slough then! I still see it. Usually, though, it was our dog Denver, who could really herd the cows. Papa would command Denver to get the cows, and the dog would run and find the cattle, over a mile away sometimes, and round them up. There was a lot of cattle then--seven milking cows and then the calves. And of course there would be the bulls. We had a dog named Fanny also and she was such a good dog. She could really dig up gophers out on the Prairie.
"Horses Can be Hazardous to Health"
It was a nice, sunny day. I was riding my horse home and he went too close to a telephone pole. My shoe scraped against it and made a noise that startled the horse. All of a sudden he reared up in the air, and I slid and fell off onto my back. I hit the ground so hard I saw stars. I thought I could have broken my back. I lay there a while, and then with the Lord's help I got up. I saw the horse had continued down over the hill, and was standing looking back toward me, his head held way up. Just as soon as he saw I was on my feet, he must have been satisfied I was okay because he turned away and started eating grass.
"Skunk in the Henhouse!"
Papa had a way to deal with skunks that liked to burrow into the henhouse. The floor was all dirt, so they could easily get in that way. Can you imagine the smell they could make, and the chickens would be so upset they wouldn't lay! He knew how to set traps for them, however. He would put a trap in the skunk's hole. But one time he went to check the trap to see if he had caught one. Yes, there was a skunk in the trap. But just then it sprayed him right in the face, and even in his eyes. He ran to the house and screamed for us to come out with a bucket of water. I ran out with a bucket of water, and he washed out his eyes, which were burning terribly. We brought him a change of clothes, and then he went behind a shed and buried his clothes. Later, he could come and dig them up, so we could wash them. Burying them in the dirt would take out the smell. Another time, I encountered a skunk underneath the granary. We kids were playing Hide and Go Seek at night when I looked and saw two eyes of a skunk peering at me in the dark. I couldn't see the animal, just its eyes, but I was scared it would spray on me like it did my Dad. That was the end of Hide and Go Seek that night!