Pipi’s Pasture: A lifetime of changes

Diane Prather
Pipi's Pasture
Pipi's Pasture

I think it’s safe to say that most people are uncomfortable with change, mostly perhaps because of the unknowns that go with it.

Recently, when I read the entry that I had written in a journal in 2009 (the topic of last week’s column), I was surprised how comfortable life seemed back then—taking care of cows, watering the garden, cooking up homegrown produce, and continuing to work part-time as a teacher and columnist. That was 14 years ago, and things have changed a lot during that time, some changes wonderful and some not so wonderful.

Sadly, Lyle is no longer with us, and I am still struggling with his death. Then came the COVID pandemic with an impact none of us could have predicted. The two cows that I referred to in the journal have passed on, we no longer put cattle on summer pasture, and, in fact, we have only a few cows left that are in great shape but aging. I haven’t planted a garden in awhile, mostly because of the drought.

On the more positive side, our grandchildren have grown up, and now we have four great-grandchildren.

Changes! Thinking back over the years, I realize how many changes I’ve experienced. In fact, it’s mindboggling. Take those years growing up on the ranch, for example. When I was a young child, we didn’t have any electricity in the house. I remember sitting around the table at night with some sort of oil lamp that provided the only light. I think that perishable food was kept in an ice box. Our house wasn’t wired for electricity until my pre-teen years.

We didn’t have plumbing in the house either. The outhouse was way back behind the main house. Water was heated for baths and poured into a tub. The house was heated by coal, and cooking was done on a coal cook stove. I have always wondered how Mom knew when the oven was the correct temperature for baking.

There was no telephone until I was a teenager. Communication was by mail or word-of-mouth. A person stopping by the house took a message to another person if necessary. If Mom needed something from the Hamilton Store, she sent a message to Uncle Albert (who owned the store and was postmaster of the Hamilton area post office) in the mail sack and he sent whatever she needed with the next mail (I’m sure that would be frowned on today).

Finally, some of the neighbors got together with the phone company, purchased some telephone equipment, and built a phone line that crossed a couple of hills. I don’t know how they were able to carry out such a huge job with all the trees and big rocks they had to maneuver, but we finally had a party-line phone. Just imagine! There were no cell phones, computers, or other electronic devices.

We didn’t have television either, and when we did get it (I was about a senior in high school), it was pretty primitive. There were maybe a couple of channels and not the best reception. 

Changes, indeed, and a lot of years of them!

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