Dadís Miniature Farm
by Rachel Heaps Holmstrom
My dad always had a dream - that of being a farmer. The closest he ever came to achieving this dream was in Ontario, California. In 1962, he found an old house with four acres of land. Slowly, he sculptured this land into a miniature farm.
After the dust settled from moving onto his little farm, Dad obtained a permit to connect his home to the cityís sewage system. While he was digging the trench for the sewage pipe, as a five-year old, I practiced my long distance jumping skills. After the pipes were laid, the cityís inspectors came to verify that all was done according to code. Dad then filled in the trench and planted a lawn.
Dadís next project was to prepare a place for a cow. On the north side of the barn, he planned and built a milking stall. The west side of the stall opened out into a corral. Hay and grain was bought and stored. He bought a black and white Holstein name ďBossyĒ. Why she was named Bossy, I donít remember. What I do remember is holding her tail while Dad milked her. When I was older and bigger, Dad taught me how to milk Bossy. He never woke me up for the early morning milking, but he let me do it in the evening and I felt so grown up.
It just isnít a farm without rabbits and chickens and they came next. Dad built small wire mesh cages for each of them. The hens each had their own itty bitty space with the floor of each cage slopping downward and extending beyond the cage and the edge curving up to catch the egg as it rolled away from the hen. The rabbit cages were made from the same wire mesh and they were a little larger, measuring about two feet by one foot. The only protection from the sun and rain these animals had was the roof over their heads.
In the very, very early spring, Dad would gather the waste product from these animals and spread it all over the land. Then it would seep into the ground to enrich the soil for the new gardens. Dad would plant throughout the spring but he always made sure his first harvest was ready by the Forth of July. Family, friends, and many relatives would gather together to enjoy fresh corn on the cob, tomatoes and sometimes watermelon and cantaloupe.
For seven years, my father lived his dream of being a farmer, raising at five in the morning to milk Bossy and still be at work in Orange County by eight. Then leaving work at five and coming home to do the evening milking. Saturdays, vacations, and holidays he would plant and weed the garden, pruned the trees and in between, use the irrigation systems to water everything.
After seven years, Dad suffered a heart attack at work. While recuperating, he was laid off from his job. During the next year, he went through the court system to be reinstated but was forced to take an early retirement with full benefits. Dad tried to support his family on this miniature farm, but couldnít. So, the four acres were sold and he left hoping to become a true farmer in Idaho, but never had enough money or health to fulfill his dream.