Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Farmer Named Esters

Life on the Farm
June 16, 2013

Esters Eley age three
Esters Eley was born in a small rural area on 28 June 1908 in Eros, Jackson Parish, Louisiana to Alice Lee, daughter of William “Willie” Alford Lee and Sophronia Emmer Meadows from Alabama. Who was Esters Eley? He was my father. He was a common, hardworking, farmer. As were all his ancestors before him. Or as some folks would say “they engaged in agriculture.” Whatever you want to call it, Daddy worked hard most of his life, but that’s what most farmers do. Work from sunup to sundown. The work goes on, because the crops won’t wait. Agriculture is raising field crops, poultry, or other livestock, and those were the thing produced on the farm – cotton, corn, and potatoes. There were cows, hogs, and a couple of horses. Then. there was the garden with all the fresh vegetables. Mother took care of the gardening, growing fresh peas, tomatoes, Kentucky Wonder beans, squash, okra, butterbeans, cabbage, and in season turnip greens and collard greens. The garden wasn’t just a small plot of land, it was at least an acre. There were ten people in our family so they planted enough to take care of our family year round.

Daddy taught us kids how to work, and we worked on the farm. We didn’t always like to do the work, but Daddy had a way of persuading us it was for our own good. There was always enough food to can and store for the winter. Daddy raised the meat we ate and cured.

The thing that I remember most about growing up on a farm in West Carroll Parish is that we always had food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to live. We didn’t do without the basic needs of life, and Daddy and Mother provided that and a home where we felt love and safe.

Another thing that I remember and it really didn’t come to my mind until I have gotten to be older and see how the world has changed, is that Daddy came home in the evening. He was there at night and he stayed with his family. He provided for his family. Family was important to daddy. When he was growing up it wasn’t easy for him. He was the oldest of the six children. Those were hard times for families. West Carroll Parish was a poor area, made up mostly of farmers.

Daddy retired when he about 70 years old. He had worked on the chicken farm since 1965 and retired because of upper respiratory problems.  He lived to be 82 years old. He lived a full productive life. He loved life and loved his family.  He married his sweetheart; they were married 58 years, and raised eight children. All of the children have lived to become “senior adults.”  That is an accomplishment!

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