Out On The Mudline

Farming First Choice Over Teaching Career

By W. P. Sissell

  Today I want to take you back to some of the things I did as a boy on the farm. First of all I really should say that I loved that farm, and in fact all the several farms on which I’ve lived in my many years. In the days when I lived on our Mud Line farm, if you had told me that in 1986 you will become a retired school teacher I would have replied, “You’re crazy”. I would have been very serious in my answer. Today one of the beautiful things that I behold is a newly planted field. I like to tell people, “Look, a little man has drawn little green lines straight across that field.”

  An odd set of circumstances caused me to get into teaching and of all things chemistry. There again, I found that my place, the place that I loved, was the classroom.

  As Nannette and I ate our lunch I pointed out the various areas of the headquarters of the Mud Line farm: The place of the gate that I often got a nickel, or so, for opening for folks; The cedars, five giants as I remember that someone cut and sold for fence posts, for Ruth and I and many of our visitors they were the place for our swing and mother had flower beds around some.

A Partner

  On a dairy farm one learns to milk at an early age. In addition to milking one of my other responsibilities was tending the baby calves. They had to be fed their specific amount of milk and started on grain, usually ground shelled corn, as soon as possible. I was reminded of this just last Sunday when a friend told me about a waif calf that he was trying to save.

  Not long after I became the calf tender Mother and Dad gave me a calf of my own. Actually this calf, offspring of Topsy who was the leading producer in the heard, was the pick of the crop. I named her Boots and she went on to replace her mother. As I grew older, and owned several cows, they let me sell my milk individually. I was producer number 47 on the payroll of the cheese plant.

Other Points

  As my mind wanders through the tangled undergrowth I can find the milk room with the cooling tank, bottle rack, separator and access cover to the well that I helped Shirley McCain dig with a posthole digger (another place where I was probably as much hindrance as help. It was amazing how much Shirley could accomplish while I was in school every day.) The floors of all these parts of the house and barn are concrete.

  I have a picture of the “truckshed” that shows on the ridge cap the tri-motored plane made by brother, Reuel, Jr. We could always tell the wind direction by looking at that plane. If one goes out of the barn area it is not hard to find the small concrete dairy floor (the larger one was of wood) along with the two concrete rings where the silos stood.

  When I mention silos it makes me recall another of my “special” jobs. As the wagon loads of sorghum (Japanese Seeded Ribbon Cane which I usually was the one to run the binder for cutting) came into the lot I cut off the seed heads, collected them in a basket and stored them for threshing later.

  I think that you can see that there were many jobs (chores) on the farm. Most of these were assigned as regular, but sometimes we just had to pitch in and be sure they were done. There were few dull times.

  It’s very foggy here this morning—hard to get into traffic on the highway. I know that the grandson, Parker, has left for school at Northwest for his dog has showed up at our house. We hope that you have a great week. Miss Betty, I’m  outdone with you. If you were two miles west of the 315 Water Valley Exit you were very close to “in front of my house” and we do help folks.

  You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, or (662) 563-9879.

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