Bloglet: A Family Legend and Frugal Personal Enrichment

I’ve written before about the wonder of public libraries and what a great value they are for your tax dollar. (We all support the public library one way or the other–in property taxes if you are a home or land owner or as part of rent payments.) You are probably wondering what this has to do with My Little Farm in Town other than being another example of frugal entertainment. I’d put this in the category of Blooming Where I Am Planted.

I love the adult programs they offer through my local public library, especially the writing workshops. I recently attended a two-hour writing workshop led by Michelle Wildgen, author of You’re Not You: A Novel. Our homework was to write a two-page true story that was simple and linear (no flashbacks or jumps in time or space) ending in a twist.

I almost didn’t go.

I’ve never considered myself a good storyteller. (I don’t enjoy making things up from scratch unless it is a pie or a child!) For a long time, I couldn’t think of something I could tell as a story with a pigtail–that is until I remembered a family legend with a cow tail!

I thought I’d share my family legend with you. Let me know if you enjoyed it, and feel free to share a family story of your own with the rest of us! Begonia

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Maria Forret Fritz (1818-1884)

 The Fritz Family Legend: A Cow Tail

She lay in bed listening to the sounds of the farm and household as the chilly spring afternoon drew to a close–children’s rapid feet on the wooden stairs, voices raised in argument from the floor above, pots and pans clattering in the kitchen, and from the barnyard, a rooster crowing and the plaintive bawling of a cow.

The bedstead squeaked as she restlessly shifted, trying without success to find a more comfortable position. A small sound drew her eyes to the newborn boy in a makeshift, dresser-drawer cradle set on the seats of a couple of wooden straight-backed chairs next to her bed. Her thirteenth child, Jacob Fritz, newborn in a new country.

Maria Forret Fritz had ten days of lying in ahead of her. The needs of her other twelve children and the livestock could not be ignored, so like a general directing battle from a rear flank position, she summoned her Lieutenants, “Mary! Anna! Anna Mary! Come here to me!”

The sounds of hurrying feet converged on the small bedroom crowded with bed, dresser, wash stand, and baby. The door opened after a quick knock, “Yes, Mama?”

The baby opened its mouth wide and began whimpering fretfully. Maria leaned over and gathered him to her breast as she began to question the girls.

“Mary, have you started supper?”

“Yes, Mama. The soup’s on the stove and the biscuits are in the oven. Johanna set the table like you told her.”

“Anna, did Little John gather the eggs?”

“Yes, Mama.”

“Did Big John slop the hogs?”

“Yes, Mama.”

“Papa will be working at the church until sunset. Has Charles finished the milking Anna Mary?”

“Well, Mama–Charlie says that it’s Joe’s turn to milk Molly. Joe says that he milked Molly last and she kicked him. Charlie says he milked last–he remembers ‘cause she switched him in the eye with her tail and it’s still swollen.”

“You tell those boys to come here right now. Tell them I can hear them upstairs, so there had better be no sneaking off into the woods or, baby or no baby, I’m going to cut a switch!”

Anna Mary hastily left the doorway and clattered up the stairs. A little out of breath, she stuck her head through the blanket partition between the girls and boys’ sleeping areas and interrupted the two boys’ disagreement. They turned, scowling at her. “Ma wants you downstairs right away. You’d better hurry up or you’re both going to get it!” She grinned and ducked back down the stairs.

The boys clumped down the stairs reluctantly, sullenly appearing in the now empty bedroom doorway–the girls had already been dispatched on other errands.

“Why, haven’t either of you milked Molly?” Maria demanded. “I can hear her bawling all the way in here with the window closed! One of you milked her this morning, didn’t you?”

Neither boy would meet her eye.

“Are you going to tell me she hasn’t been milked yet today? She’s our only cow! You know we can’t afford for her to go dry! Do I have to talk to your father about this?”

“No ma, please!” Charles cried. “Don’t tell Papa. We couldn’t help it. Molly won’t let anyone but you milk her. She crowds us against the wall and kicks over the pail when we try to milk her. She wouldn’t even let down for us this morning.”

After silently searching each boy’s face, Marie thoughtfully replied, “Well boys, it looks like we’ve got a problem here. I can’t get out of bed to milk Molly, but Molly must be milked.”

Joe smiled, “I think I have an idea Mama. We’ll be back in no time!”

Maria had just settled a satisfied and burped Baby Jacob in his makeshift cradle, when she heard a heavy tread in the hall.

The broad head and shoulders of the slightly anxious bovine filled the doorway as one boy led the family cow into their mother’s bedroom. The other edged cautiously around Molly’s broad belly and hindquarters with the metal milk pail.

Leaning over the side of the bed and reaching for the cow’s engorged udders, Marie remarked drily, “Looks like we have the makings of a family legend here–hold that bucket steady Joe!”

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