Pipi’s Pasture: Picnics on ordinary days
I’m guessing that just about everyone enjoys a picnic, and that goes for adults and children alike.
When I was a kid growing up on the ranch we planned picnics for special occasions, such as when we went on fishing trips. However, some of my favorite and most memorable picnics took place on ordinary days, right there on the ranch, and they were connected to work . These picnics were lunch breaks. (Lunch was better known as “dinner” at our house).
For example, I have been thinking about these “ordinary” picnics during the past few beautiful fall days because that was what the weather was like when we took picnic lunches down in the field where Dad was working.
In the fall when the hay was up, the cattle had been gathered, and they were grazing on the meadows, Dad took the opportunity to complete fall work. Perhaps he was plowing a section of land for spring planting or putting a culvert in the creek that ran through the field, or a number of other jobs.
Since Dad usually drove the tractor down into the field, he didn’t want to drive clear back to the house for dinner so we kids and Mom fixed a picnic meal to take to him.
We didn’t have lunchmeat, chips, or soda in those days (they were reserved for special occasions). We didn’t have “boughten” sandwich bread, either, except for school lunches. Mom baked bread weekly.
Sandwiches for our picnic were likely made from a filling of cooked ground meat, pickles, boiled eggs, and mayonnaise or maybe from leftover roast beef. We also took homemade cookies or cake and iced tea or a soft drink. When everything was ready, we drove it down to the field in the pickup truck.
We chose a shady place under a bunch of chokecherry and serviceberry bushes, and Dad got off the tractor and joined us. I can still remember that Dad used his gloves to check the tall grass under the bushes, so he wouldn’t sit on a sharp rock. Then he sat down. We all did the same and passed around the lunch and enjoyed one another. If we were close to the creek, we kids checked it out later for minnows.
When we kids joined Dad to check cattle on summer pasture, we carried our lunches wrapped in our jackets and tied to the back of the saddles. Our picnics were in lovely places in the forest.
Many times Dad and the other ranchers also ate lunches together when they were checking or moving cattle. During hay season, however, Dad and the hired men came to the house at noon for dinner.
Some ranch families did eat dinner in the hayfield—big meals such as pork chops, potatoes, and gravy. Can you imagine carrying big meals to the field each day?
Picnics on ordinary days were special, mainly because the family was together. We got to talk about nature, community history, and family backgrounds. It was wonderful.
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