The wonders of Whaley Brook Farm

Published 8:29 pm Saturday, May 23, 2015

Most rural people will fondly remember the classic children’s novel about a girl named Rebecca and the farm she named Sunny Brook. I took a liking to her character early on, as I read page after page, to learn her way of life and interests were similar to mine. After all, she was a girl living on a farm, just like me.

Creative, imaginative, and naturally curious, I was so much like Rebecca as I roamed around every acre of the farm I called home, and sometimes I experienced interesting encounters. Like the time the Rev. Eddie White visited in the early morning and asked me three consecutive times where he could find my grandmother who lived next door.

I was 5, busy playing in my sand pile and focusing on what I was doing. I had no idea where Gran Seabyrd was or what she was doing. But I was hospitable and invited Rev. White to sit down and play in my sand pile until someone else found my grandmother. The sand pile story became farm folklore at every future family gathering.

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Farm life was so interesting because of the way it was structured. There was the farmland and annual planting and harvesting of crops component. Local folks know this involved farm machinery and equipment such as tractors, trailers, peanut pickers, combines and cultivating discs.

Equally important was the livestock and animals component. Along with my grandmother’s brood of farm animals, I knew what it was like to have non-talking friends that were chickens, cows, goats, pigs, hogs, bulls, a pony, a horse and a mule.

I remember one really cool time when my parents allowed me to nurse a sick baby piglet back to health by keeping it in a basket in our utility room. Truly, it was my first nurturing experience.

There was also the garden component, with its vast array of freshly grown fruits and vegetables, including everything from cabbage and collards to peaches and strawberries. Friends and family alike would savor Dad’s sweet watermelons and Gran’s grapes grown on her thick, intricately woven grapevine.

But the treasured wonder of Whaley Brook Farm was the landscape spread out far and wide, sometimes sandwiched between roads, woodland, and a highway. This was the place of my tomboy adventures, where long rides to the back of the field became imaginary trips to many places in the nation that I’ve now seen.

Saddled on my blue, high-handlebar bike, I’d traverse rough terrain, causing the bike’s wicker basket to bobble back and forth along the way. My barnyard bike rides would have made a young Dale Earnhardt Jr. proud. I’d ride around and around incessantly, peddling faster and faster as if vying for a Daytona Raceway title. It was just plain country fun.

I followed in Rebecca’s footsteps by giving our farm its Whaley Brook name. And in my times of reflection, I can still believe she roamed with me. Together, we learned the joy of rural living.

Billie Joy Langston is a freelance writer of positive living and inspirational literature. She is a native of Suffolk. Email her at