My childhood was spent on a farm in Paradise, PA. Perhaps this will sound over the top, but for the most part, it was idyllic. Pretty sure my mom would have argued with that when I was a kid and teen and she had to tell me I had to do some work for my dad on the farm… and come to think of it, I would have too! Now, when I look back on this experience, I have the best memories… including the yucky ones.
The farm was called Selway Farms. My dad and uncle ran it under the partnership, Rohrer Bros. Many years ago, I thought if I ever made some kind of business with my art, I would call it Selway Studios. I even made that my email address. However, when the time came to decide on my website address, I couldn’t decide if I would use that or my name. For a variety of reasons, Selway Studios won out.
The farm is so much a part of who I am… it’s in my blood. It’s hard to describe being a farmer’s daughter. As I write this, I’m sitting here with my heart bursting with pride and gratitude. Yes, it makes sense that I would keep a part of it with me always, even if it’s just the name.
The name Selway came from a hunting trip my dad took to the Selway Bitterroot area in Idaho and Montana. It’s a gorgeous area and made such an impression on my dad that he decided to use that as a prefix when naming the cows. Yes, we had dairy cows. Each one would be named with Selway first and then their name. For example, Selway Lizzy or Selway Alice.
As kids, my sisters and I had to help with various jobs on the farm. Our least favorite was gathering eggs, even though we were paid to do the job… 5 cents a flat! That doesn’t seem like much, but it does add up. (Insert a little smile here as I remember…) Each flat held 30 eggs. My memory is hazy here, but I know we filled those carts with stacks of flats! I know they have automated egg gathering now, but we sure didn’t. We pushed carts with our hips and filled the flats by hand. It was pretty exciting when our hands were big enough to hold three or even four eggs!
We also helped with milking and field work. Dad and my uncle had 70 head of milking cows. Every other Sunday would be Dad’s Sunday to work. Cows don’t take days off… We usually helped on those Sundays and occasionally other times as well.
Our favorite job was helping in the fields. I remember helping to throw bales of hay off the wagon on to a hay elevator. The hay would then make its way into the hay mow to be stacked and used later. Of course, driving a tractor was the BEST, but then, Dad and my uncle preferred that too, so I don’t remember getting to drive tractor very often.
The job I remember most was gathering eggs… probably because I disliked it so much! My sisters and I were laughing about some of the crazy stuff we did on the farm growing up. One of those was throwing eggs at each other. Ummmm… gross! But really, how many kids get to do that?!
And then there was… falling through hay holes (a hole in the barn floor to throw bales of hay down to be used), falling off of a roof while painting, backing over expensive rye seed and then scrambling to gather it all up somehow (for the record, rye seed is REALLY small!!!), and throwing a piece of wood through a back window of a pickup truck while loading wood.
The crazy thing is I don’t remember a lot of details about my childhood. I just have a warm and fuzzy feeling when I remember it. I feel content and so freaking blessed I got to grow up the way I did.