Sharing my photo and the story that I wrote to go with it, in honor of the beautiful wedding procession today!
Three horse hitch, 1998
I took this photo for my photography class in the fall of my senior year. Back then, I spent all day Saturday and Sunday at the farm, as I had since I was a small child. I did everything- put pumpkins in rows, waited on customers, stocked the big pile of sweet corn. By senior year I spent all day in the kitchen baking apple and pumpkin pies.
As I cut wheat designs in the crust, I’d gaze out the upstairs kitchen window to keep an eye out for our beautiful dapple gray Percherons coming back with the hayride. I’d sprint down the stairs, grab the cash drawer and tell my grandmother whether the next buzzer was to rotate the pies or take them out. I would help load the wagon, quickly making change for families. Rides were $2 a person back then so the math was easy. Then I’d get a few minutes to visit with Bob, Bill and Vinny, and of course my Dad, before heading back in to wash my hands and keep baking, with a quick eye roll at my mom’s “pumpkin lady” vest and jewelry as she waited on customers in the stifling greenhouse with a big smile.
As it got later in the day I would be able to slow down baking and could even go on the hayride. Sometimes I would just relax and enjoy the ride, and sometimes I would get to drive. I learned to drive the horses when I was in fifth grade, but they knew the route well and could probably have done just fine without me holding the reins.
When the customers finally left we could close up the store while my dad cleaned up the horses, and then have a little fun running around on top of the hay maze (though you’re not supposed to do that). We would go to a fair or a movie, knowing that I’d be back in the kitchen at 8:00 the next morning. In late October we would get ready for the Haunted Hayride and work until late at night. We had more fun in the woods than the people did on the rides.
It was hard work, and I didn’t appreciate then that I could pick and eat as many apples as I wanted, and I didn’t like the bees around when we made cider, and I sometimes wished I could do nothing on weekends like some of my friends. Looking back now, I’m happy I had all those experiences. Like parenthood, the days are long but the years were short. We do our best now to give our boys similar experiences.
When you go visit your local family farm this year, remember you are visiting that family’s home. They pour their hearts and souls, blood, sweat and tears into welcoming your family and giving them a good time. Enjoy yourselves on a hayride, picking apples, loading a wagon with pumpkins and grab a pie while you’re there. And for heaven’s sake, don’t complain about the price of pumpkins.