The Last Windrow: At the center of the universe of a small family farm
It stands as the last monument to a farm family gone from the land. In the middle of the farmyard, on a slight hill, just above the now gone barn and next to where a windmill used to stand. It's rusted and bent and worn, but it is a testament to ...
It stands as the last monument to a farm family gone from the land.
In the middle of the farmyard, on a slight hill, just above the now gone barn and next to where a windmill used to stand. It's rusted and bent and worn, but it is a testament to the fact that a family once lived here, played here, had kids here and maybe even died here.
It is the farm's water pump, the center of the universe of the small family farm.
The pump's curved and rusted handle was grabbed by many hands over all its years of existence. Since the farmer dug the well, the old pump stood proudly atop its cement foundation. Over time its base had turned almost orange in color due to the heavy mineral concentration in the cool water below.
Once it sported new rivets. Most original rivets over the years have been replaced with bolts, shear pins and maybe even a bent nail or two. But the handle still works smoothly even with its added patches.
The old pump still pumps water when primed correctly. One must bring a gallon or so of new water to pour down the hole on top of the pump rod. Just a dozen downward thrusts of the handle and one can hear and feel the water coming to the surface from below. And then, as if by magic, cold water starts to flow from the spout.
The spout has a knob on the end where one hangs the water bucket. Thousands of buckets of water have been carried from the old pump. Water to water the chickens, water to mix milk replacement for the young calves, water to haul to the hog house to pour into the sow's water trough while she is taking care of her newborn piglets.
All the animals knew when they heard the sound of the pump handle going up and down that water was on the way.
The threshing crew always made a stop at the rusted old water pump before they went into the house for their hearty dinner. Oat and wheat chaff were washed off as the threshers held their sun-burned, heavily muscled arms and hands under the water as another fellow thresher drove the pump handle.
The cold water felt good after the body had withered under the late July or early August sun. It was said that running that cold water over the upturned wrists cooled the whole body, and I think it was true.
The old pump provided drinking water for three generations of homesteaded farm families. Each kid able to carry a water bucket took his or her turn at bringing drinking water into the house where a water dipper awaited.
On Saturday nights, water was brought into the house to be boiled and used for the Saturday night bath. Kids would slide to the far end of the tub when Mom would come into the bathroom and pour the steaming water in to keep the bath warm.
Now the farmstead is empty. Buildings have been moved, have fallen down or have been burned. Corn now grows where the old house once stood. The grove of giant cottonwoods no longer towers over the farm.
The only remnant left of the farm is the narrow row of lilac bushes that once surrounded the house. How they managed to survive the plow no one knows. Evidently the farmer has decided to leave them in place.
And the old rusted water pump still stands sentry in the middle of that farmyard as a testament that families once lived here, its rusted handle still waiting for someone to come and pump cool water from down below.
Not all monuments are made of granite.
See you next time. Okay?