All of us have special moments we remember about our mothers. We remember even more details when they have passed and are waiting to welcome us into their loving world. (Hope I make it there.)
I’ll tell you a little more of my mom so you know why I have those loving thoughts of our time together.
We were Florida farmers or if you were in Texas we would have been ranchers. Our farm had acreage that was used for strawberries and then when all the berries were gone, the fields and rows were replanted with broccoli and tomatoes.
That was just the big rotating garden plots that we sold the produce to the big grocery companies. This area covered about a hundred acres. If we thought we could get the sweet corn in and harvested early enough, we would plant an additional thirty acres. In this part of the country you have to have watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew melons, and pumpkins. That was another thirty acres.
We had groves. Our groves were a couple variety of oranges, lemons, and my favorite, grapefruit. I loved the pink grapefruit as it seemed they were sweeter. Our groves covered about three hundred acres.
Up near the house and out buildings was the close in pasture for a few cows, and some beef stock that was being fattened up to butcher. We also had about six hundred acres where beef stock ranged and were sent off to market annually. Our herd was big enough to reproduce a lot of Hereford and Angus in two separate areas that kept us busy counting head continuously. We had trouble with coyotes and occasionally the wolves would find a calf. We would shoot the coyotes if we saw them but the wolves seemed to keep down the rabid rabbits, raccoons, and possum. Nature takes care of its own.
In order to have food for stock, we always had about five hundred acres in alfalfa with some clover mixed in. We rotated another five to six hundred acres with oats, regular horse corn, and soy beans.
Dad was always trying to get an extra yield from his land. He did all this and it wasn’t what was his love in life. The man loved his family first. He would do anything for them any time it was asked. As his kid I have to say that he would do most anything as long as it was reasonable. Dad was a WW2 aviator who brought his love of flying home with him.
Our farm housed some airplanes. Some were Dad’s toys and some were for working. We were the only crop dusters in the area. Ben Hill Griffin could keep Dad in business but Dad also did sugar cane fields as far south as Homestead and groves as far north as Jacksonville. The weather conditions used to be warmer and there were groves up north of Jacksonville. Now, it is too cold during the late fall for the trees to bloom and produce. Most of the groves up there have been cut down and are now subdivisions.
There were several men who were pilots with Dad in the war who made a few dollars flying those wobbly biplanes dumping and spraying fertilizer on fields and groves.
Now that you have an idea of the place, let me explain that a lot of the hands who worked on the farm also lived there. Dad supplied the houses and the tenant supplied the labor to keep the house in good condition. If they let their free home get run down, we would get a new tenant.
Up until 1958 we didn’t have electricity so we didn’t have a lot of special things city folks had. We had running water because we had wells with gasoline driven pumps and propane for cooking and heating hot water for kitchens and bathrooms. We weren’t modern but we were close. Dad always was looking to make sure his people had the same good stuff we had in our house.