Fremont County, Iowa

"Fun on the Farm"
by Evelyn Birkby

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of 22 Oct, 2012

No one, has yet discovered a better place to play than a farm. For example, the hay mow in a barn has been, for generations, a prime play area for children. Dress up clothes out of an attic box often went up into the hay mow with the youngsters where they outfitted everyone into imaginative costumes.

When all the wild things that peek out around the dark high corners were shooed away, when the blankets were smoothed and placed facing the breeze, and when all of the things necessary for a play house were settled into place, the parade back to the house began. Various-sized little children would go tramping into the kitchen. First, they needed a jar of water, filled with ice cubes, please, it is hot on the desert. Next it was a pillow--the ground is hard out on the prairie. Last it was a request for peanut butter sandwiches as a grub stake for weary prospectors.

Once their imaginative play grew tiresome, the search for baby kittens began. Mother cats have a way of secreting their babies away from meddling eyes, but many childish hands searching behind the hay bales and listening ears soon heard the tiny meowing of the babies. These wee furry creatures, as soon as their eyes were open and they were sturdy enough, became like dolls to be dressed, pushed in a doll carriage, and carefully tucked into a doll bed out in the woodshed corner where they could be found easier than in the barn.

The animals that live in, and near, the barn were favorite companions for children as well. Gentle ponies, tiny lambs, baby piglets and the chickens. Teaching baby chicks to drink and eat was a favorite activity for younger members of a farm family. And helping bottle feed the babies that for one reason or another could not be fed by their mothers was great fun, especially if they were kept warm and safe behind the stove in the kitchen for as long as special care was needed.

The only limitation to play on a farm was the limitation to individual imaginations. Not one of these children, now adults, will ever forget the fun they had playing in a haymow in an old barn or with the animals that live there.

Today with fewer farms with barns and with the changing dynamics of childhood fewer days are spent in haymows or with baby animals. Would that every child could somehow experience fun on a farm.

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Page updated on November 1, 2020 by Karyn Techau