RURAL REFLECTIONS: Out of the gate
The old gates.
As far back as I can remember, I climbed the old, wooden gates peeking over them to watch animals. I climbed there to call Dad in for dinner.
When I was old enough, I could open the gate to the chicken house to gather eggs and feed the rabbits. I could open the gate, so Mom or Dad could drive the car through to get gas from the tank on the other side.
When my horse came to the gate, I climbed up to pet her head and have a little chat. The cows poked their noses through the gate when it was feeding time or just out of curiosity. Sheep did the same, waiting for some yummy morsel to be tossed across the gate. My lamb Pamper would meet me at the gate.
Gates were as much a part of the farm as were the barns.
Sometimes I would just go out to the gate between the corn crib and the barn to sit and think and sometimes cooling off after a disagreement with someone in the house. The gate was a good place for sitting.
"The cows are out!" came the cry from one of us who saw a cow in the yard.
At the cry, we all poured out into the yard from wherever we were at the time. Someone would yell at me where to stand as we tried to circle the errant cow.
We all began waving and yelling at the cow driving it back towards the open gate. Mom waved her apron. Dad waved his handkerchief. I just waved and yelled.
Of course, which way should the cow continue on its escape route? Hmm. Maybe towards the shortest one!
I was not swift of foot, but when a big heifer starts your way with a look of determination, you run.
"Pam, get back there," Dad would yell. I seriously was doubting his love for his youngest.
Once in a while, the gate to the chicken yard would be left open. (I am pretty sure I never left a gate open. Pretty sure.) Chasing chickens is a lost cause. Feathers fly. There is a lot of squawking. Dirt flies when you toss them back into the yard.
I hate chickens.
When visiting the farm on Neff Road, my children would immediately head for the gate. As tiny tots, they leaned over the top looking at the cows looking back at them. With a hand holding on to each small bottom, I watched their faces light up and listened to sweet voices calling to the cows.
I grew up hearing about the gates to hell. Garden gates. Gateways to this or that. Swinging on gates. Bill Gates. All kinds of gates.
How I wanted a garden gate. A little fence around the garden with a gate. It truly appealed to my romantic side.
I was usually informed about the occasional need to paint the fence.
How I wish we still had those big wooden gates. I loved the screech as you swung them opening and closing. Even as an adult, I loved climbing them.
My first word(s) was "moo cow." Perhaps the love of gates inspired me from the first when someone held my baby bottom as I grasped onto the gate, looking at the cows.
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