I hadn't revisited a Laura Ingalls Wilder book since my teens, so I was very excited when I heard Farmer Boy was November's selection for the readalong. I do have such fond memories of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, mostly because my older sister and I shared the books with one another. We always enjoyed picking them up at the school bookfair and adding on to the series. To this day, I don't think we know whose book is whose. Laura even went with me on many road trips to visit my grandparents over the holidays.
My recollection of Farmer Boy was a little hazier then the Laura series (maybe it was one of the books that my sister held on to). But, I so loved reading about nine-year-old Almanzo again. One of the things I was instantly struck by was Almanzo's desire to grow up so fast, wanting more responsibility and his passion to help with the colts. Given how many chores he already had you would have thought he wanted more time to play. I can't imagine doing all of the chores that needed to be done each day, be it milking cows, churning butter, or pitching hay. I recall being enamored with early farmers when I was a kid and Farmer Boy is such a lovely example. I think it's why I love state fairs and took up quilting for awhile. I loved how everyone in the Wilder family had their daily routine of chores and everyone pitched in. There is such a strong family bond and I adored how close Almanzo was with his father. Having reread the story, it makes me appreciate my grandparents that much more. My grandparents had a small garden where they grew carrots and other vegetables. There was a chicken coop growing up and we all took turns feeding them and gathering eggs. Chickens can be so mean when they are hungry. There is nothing like farm fresh eggs though. I even recall when the pigs were slaughtered, but luckily we were kept in the house that day. There were plum, cherry and apple trees that needed to be picked and back in my mothers time, she even had some of the same chores that Almanzo did. So, reading Farmer Boy was like a trip down memory lane in so many ways for me.
Oh and the food references, Farmer Boy has some of the best food references that I've read. I was so glad to be reading those pieces over Thanksgiving, knowing that I had a wonderful meal coming up. Although, I am still trying to envision the taste of watermelon rind pickles, at least google helped with an image. I want warm bread and butter now and pie, most defiantly must make a pie soon. I loved all the moments featuring food, from making ice cream, to popping corn, to making butter. I'm going to have to take a look at The Little House Cookbook.
My favorite chapter was when Almanzo threw the brush and it left a black streak on the wallpaper. My sister's and I broke a vase when we were kids chasing each other around the house, so I could so picture Almanzo's reaction. That feeling of terror when you knew you were going to be in big trouble. Like Almanzo's sister who hung a strip of wallpaper over the mark to cover it up, we glued that vase back together piece by piece and our mother never said a peep about it. Although, I'm sure she knew. Farmer Boy is wonderful story that I'm so happy to have revisited. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that there are some very beautiful illustrations too. Defiantly worth a reread if you haven't revisited it or one that you should read if you haven't.
Thank you again to the lovely ladies at The Midnight Garden for selecting Farmer Boy this month. You can follow along or join in the discussion at http://www.themidnightgarden.net/2014/11/farmer-boy.html or #tmgreadalong on Twitter.