Thursday, June 1, 2017

No farms, no overalls.

[Another Fred classic from the defunct blog -- sorry, it's deadline week.]

I grew up in the city confines, where we did not have a whole lot of farms. None, in fact, unless you count all the Italian families I knew who planted tomatoes in the backyard, just past where the patio concrete ended. To my mind, everything west of New Jersey looked exactly like this:

Right down to the rooster.

These were the facts I absolutely knew to be true about farming, mainly based on picture books and playsets:

1. Every farm had one pig.

2. Every farm had one cow. No bulls. Sometimes there was a calf.

3. Farmers smiled a lot and worked alone.

4. You were not allowed to set foot on a farm without a hat made of straw and overalls.

5. Every farm had one sheep.

6. Every barn was painted red. I think it was some kind of law.

7. Farmland tended to be very hilly.

8. Every farm had one dog.

9. A farm could have as many as a dozen chickens, but more often no more than six.

10. Occasionally Mrs. Farmer would take a break from canning and baking pies and put on her overalls and straw hat and come out to smile next to the farmer. Might have children too, dressed the same way.

11. Farms did not have alpacas, llamas, rabbits, cats, moose, bears, fish, giraffes, buffalo, ostrich, turkeys, ducks, insects, caribou, or lawyers.

12. Animals on farms smiled a lot.

13. MacDonald was perhaps the most famous farmer of all time, despite the advanced age at which he achieved his notoriety and his obsession with certain vowels (those being E, I, and O).

14. Bingo (spelled B-I-N-G-O) may have been MacDonald's dog.

15. Farmers never had guns, except in cartoons, where they wielded comically large shotguns.

16. Every tractor looked like Mr. Douglas's from Green Acres, although usually a lot more colorful.

17. In addition to having a mixed bunch of animals, the farmer would likely grow one acre of every kind of crop there was, and might also have a small orchard that grew apples, pears, cherries, nectarines, oranges, and grapes, but no bananas.

18. Every farm had one rooster, which crowed once at sunrise and shut up the rest of the day.

19. Farmers wore boots in the north, nothing on their feet in the south.

20. Farmers worked real hard, but what they actually did was sketchy. Mending fences, milking cows, driving the tractor around. Something with the pitchfork. Unclear. Maw might get eggs out from under the easily upset chickens and churn butter, aside from the canning and baking. Whatever they did, they did a lot of it.

21. Somehow this small farm, and a few more like it, mostly in square states, fed hundreds of millions of Americans and many more around the world.

So hats off to you, Old MacDonald, and all your kin! Thanks for all the grub!


UPDATE: Mr. Philbin also notes that it was common knowledge that pigs very clearly enunciated "Oink," cows "Moo," chickens "Cluck," and so on. How could I forget?
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