She said she’d like me to go help pick some prunes for canning. Our pantry supply is running a little low. Prunes are on right now. Gotta go pick while the pickin’s good!
Okay. So we headed out to Brosi’s Sugartree Farm at Winston, Oregon to their “you-pick” orchard. Trees LOADED with purple fruit! With both of us filling buckets hung around our neck by small ropes we soon had our tubs and boxes filled. One-hundred-fifty-five pounds worth!
In verity, it was a wonderful outing which we both thoroughly enjoyed.
The whole experience got me thinking, however. Reflecting on life, etc. I got to wondering why I enjoyed that little excursion so much. I think I know.
You see, in my early years (pre-college) I grew up on a farm near Outlook, Washington. We didn’t have a fruit orchard, but some of the neighbors up the road a ways did. I related to Ruth how I had picked prunes for that neighbor and got paid 25¢/box. If I filled 40 boxes/day I would earn $10.00. I could usually get my 40 boxes filled in about 8 hours, making $1.25/hour. That was good money for a teenager in the early ’60s, and I was happy to get it!
Farm work was my life, and the life of nearly everyone I knew. Every season had its own tasks that came around every year. Summers were filled with haying, irrigation, weeding, trucks, tractors, and machinery. Fall brought harvests of corn, sugar beets, mint, onions, and other crops. Winter also often found us in the fields husking field corn and filling our corn crib with the harvest. (I don’t think I’ve ever had colder fingers!) Early Spring signaled the time for plowing, discing, harrowing, and seeding the fields for the new crop year. Asparagus season began in mid-April and lasted until the end of June.
And, of course, caring for the animals (horses, cows, chickens, and an occasional sheep) was a year-long, every day responsibility. There was always something to do!
I’m old now. Well, getting there at least. I’ve retired after 40+ years of ministry. I’ve been a pastor, evangelist, missionary, youth leader, and gospel music vocalist. I have few regrets regarding my choice of life’s vocation. But the old adage is absolutely true: You can take the boy off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy!
And I realized that again yesterday in the prune orchard. I was completely surprised by the emotion I felt as I carried our fruit from the trees to the boxes in the trunk of the car. I walked on real dirt on a real farm, doing something akin to real farm work. Yes, I know, that tiny slice of time hardly qualifies to be worthy of notice compared to what real farmers do every day all the time. But the experience seriously felt good to me. Farming is in my blood, and there’s still an echo of familiarity somewhere deep in my soul that aligns with the fields.
It feels like home.