By Sherri Lyons
It’s fascinating how things we hated as children can turn out to be some of our fondest memories. I have many good memories of growing up on a small homestead. One of those memories is of cutting wood for the winter with my family. At the time, of course, I hated cutting wood. I was one of those children who would rather stay in her bedroom or in the barn and read a book all day. I definitely didn’t want to be outside with all of the family, lugging wood to the truck in the cold, with the wind fighting me every step of the way.
My parents were busy during the year helping local farmers get in their crops or working in our own garden. So in the winter, when everything slowed down, that’s when we had time to gather wood. Since my father was good friends with most of the farmers, we usually were given permission to cut dead trees from the fence lines of the fields.
I remember the wind whipping across the fields, gathering snow as it went, and slamming into us as we were working. It was beyond cold. No matter how many socks I put on, my feet ended up as icicles before we were half done. Back then, there weren’t many types of gloves that would fit a little girl’s hand and stand up to the rough texture of firewood. Most of the time, my sister and I relied on several pairs of layered old socks as mittens.
Mom would make a giant thermos of hot chocolate and stash it in the cab of the truck. If it just got too cold for us, we could hop in the truck and steal a few sips of warm, comforting goodness. Beyond a doubt, it was the best-tasting hot chocolate in the world.
As I look back, I do remember how much I hated gathering wood, but with age and wisdom has come the realization of what those days taught me.
I learned how to work as part of a team. Dad would chop the trees down, cut the log into smaller pieces, and then split them into even smaller pieces so that my sister and I could manage lifting them into the back of the truck. My sister and I would form a line with our parents and pass the wood out of the fence row and onto the truck. Every single link was important to that chain.
It taught me responsibility and a good work ethic. If we didn’t cut the wood, we wouldn’t have heat that winter. And I quickly learned that I could either have fun or I could be miserable doing a job that had to be done. I’m not saying that I was all smiles and giggles all the time. I wasn’t. But I knew that that job was necessary for my family, and it was up to me to choose either to be happy about it or grumpy.
It taught me the satisfaction of a job well done. I can remember sitting around our wood stove and soaking up the warmth that resulted from a job that we all did together as a family. It’s that last reason that I’ll always hold the memories of gathering firewood close to my heart.
Sherri Lyons and her husband live on a farm in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain. They grow grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, and meat rabbits. They try to live a self-sustaining lifestyle by growing what they eat, and eating what they grow. You can follow their adventures on Sherri’s blog at www.smallfarmgirl.blogspot.com.