Archived Story

A time to plant and grow

Published 12:17pm Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Springtime arrived in Hartselle on Saturday a week ago with bright sunshine and temperatures edging over the 70-degree mark.

While the ground was too wet to work, the time was ripe for memories to flood the mind of an Alabama farm boy.

“No school today, boys,” daddy would call out before the crack of day. “We’ve got some planting to do.”

The thought of missing school for two or three days was all my brother Billy and I needed to jump out of bed, hop into our work clothes and dig into a piping hot breakfast of sugar-cured ham, fried eggs, milk gravy, buttermilk biscuits and blackberry jelly.

The barn was our next stop.

We’d bridle, water, gear up and hitch our mules to a wagon piled high with equipment, fertilizer and seed. Then off to the field we’d go!

My daddy would take the lead with a distributor filled with 4-10-7 fertilizers, pulled by Jack, our biggest and strongest mule. I’d follow with the drill, which was pulled by Tobe, the leaner and faster of the pair. My brother stood by with buckets filled with fertilizer and seed to top off the distributor and drill when they needed refilling.

Around the winding terraces we’d go, row after row, stopping only for an occasional water break, the ringing of the dinner bell and the fall of another sunlit day.

Looking back, I marvel at how uncomplicated farm life was two generations ago. Simply put, farm folk made do with what they had. They managed to feed, clothe and keep a roof over the heads of families without motorized transportation, electric power, running water, indoor bathrooms, televisions, computers, cell phones or credit cards.

Now that we’re hooked on luxuries that have become necessities, a simple, thrifty lifestyle is no long possible.

Here I am filled with a burst of springtime energy and a garden that’s begging to be planted. Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating, the weeds are growing taller with each passing day and my tiller (iron mule) is limping around on one leg. Oh what I could do if I had a good mule and a sharp plow.

Clif Knight is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.

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