He was a tall lanky farmer. He had fifteen children. He was my Grandfather.
A farmer raising fifteen children on land he didn’t own was a formula for poverty, but it was also a formula for lessons.
Let me start by describing the farm operation.
Wheat was his “cash crop” so to speak. But, he couldn’t get by on just raising wheat, especially a farmer with loads of children.
This was back in the good old days when you did it all.
The other parts of the farm operation were primarily focused on feeding all the mouths.
There was a small herd of Holstein cows for milk. Then there was a pig operation for ham and bacon. And a chicken operation that supplied the eggs to go with the bacon. The cows were fifty yards to the west of the home, the chickens twenty yards to the east, and the pigs a bit further away – two hundred yards north.
Equidistant between the house and the pigs was the outhouse.
The shared family car mirrored the compact farm operation – a Honda Rabbit hatchback. On the weekly trip to church, Grandpa would squeeze into the Rabbit with his six foot two inch frame, his knees sandwiched between two sun leathered arms. It was quite a sight.
The family home’s exterior was dull white stucco with bright red trim. Water was accessed by a hand pump out on the back porch. There was one bedroom downstairs for Grandpa and Grandma and two bedrooms upstairs – one for the boys and one for the girls.
Can you see the lessons?
Work ethic was a powerful one. Grandpa didn’t talk all that much. He didn’t have to. He would work sun up to sun down. And, I never once heard him complain about his plight – never.
Put others before yourself. You can’t raise fifteen children on microscopic funds without putting others ahead of yourself.
Frugality is another one. Grandpa and Grandma never had fancy possessions. I doubt there were ever any extra funds. Yet, frugality allowed Grandma to cover their household expenses and still have the dollars to buy a tiny Christmas gift for every single grandchild. And, there were a LOT of grandchildren.
Wealth isn’t required. Happiness doesn’t require running water, a flushing toilet, or a fancy car.
He was a special person who gave us a treasure of lessons. And he left us short of his 102nd birthday.