Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mamaw, Papaw and Harvesting Potatoes

Mamaw and Papaw were the initial purveyors of the farm. They lived on the north side of the farm, across the cow pastures and cotton fields on the main East/West highway. Mamaw was already 61 years old Papaw and Mamaw.  Click for larger image.when I was born and Papaw was twelve years her senior. I don't know for sure how old I was when my memory met them. They were just kind of always there. Mamaw didn't drive anymore, actually I don't know if she ever did. Thus, "Papaw's car" was a four door white sedan with a red interior, Ford, I believe. It was the only car I ever knew them to have. I always liked that car, I think because it was Papaw's car. I don't know what happened to it--another question to ask my mother.

Every year we had a large vegetable garden behind the house. Mamaw and Papaw had one too but it was smaller. They grew some good stuffs that we didn't grow in our garden, like cantaloupes and watermelons--actually they were usually planted on the edge of one of the cotton fields bordering the west side of their yard. They also had the chickens and chicken house. I always liked tossing the dried corn kernels to the chickens but not as much as gathering the eggs.

There were certain times each year that Daddy did have something to do with the garden and the farm. He would hire the man with the tractor and harrow to come in and till up the earth each year before planting and again when the potatoes were ready to harvest. Daddy was the supervisor, overseeing the hired hand, giving instruction and pointing out potatoes missed along our path.

The potatoes were always harvested early in the morning on the 4th of July, before the sun rose and before breakfast. I always wanted to do my part and more in the garden, even when sisters were complaining, I was hoofing it, always trying to do more than I truly could. First, was the task of picking up the potatoes along the eight long rows that were planted in our garden. Daddy had built a "potato house" just on the edge of the garden. The walls on each side were floor to ceiling shelves. When a shelf was sufficiently layered with potatoes, a layer of hay was laid atop them preparatory for the next layer of potatoes. We had potatoes from the garden just about all year round. Once all the potatoes from our garden were in the potato house, we would venture across the pastures to harvest the ones planted in Mamaw and Papaw's garden. That was a small feat compared to what had already been accomplished. There was also greater incentive when we crossed the pasture, for as soon as the potatoes were off the ground and properly stored, Mamaw would then treat us to a bowl of corn flakes, wetted with fresh cow's milk and topped with banana slices.

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