Chapter 2: Life on the Farm (Part 1/4)
Zilpha Anne Green had gotten up an hour earlier than her typical mornings. She had wanted to write to her sister Edith, two years her junior. The two of them had been best friends since she could imagine, and it was her turn to send a letter. The sisters had a standing order that they would each write at least one letter a month, and it was Zilpha Anne’s turn to write. It had been a bit more than a month, but since the post office was next door to her house, she had few excuses she could rely on for not doing so. Other than to be honest and say that life was getting away from her these days.
Her family was growing up. Her boys were getting bigger, and the girls were becoming more curious about everything in life. She did not know if she liked that, but it was too bad if she did not; time waits for no one. But her mind was on the boys. Levi and Marvin. They were the two boys who had grown the most over the last few months.
Sitting down next to an oil lamp that lit the room, she took out her writing supplies and sat at the small table that was only large enough to hold a small plan of herbs and the sheets of paper she would use to connect to her sister. Writing to her sisters was one of the few things she could call her own, and she enjoyed it so much. Today, she knew she would need to be quick about it since the family would wake up and have to be at their chores early.
Friday, April 6, 1855
My Dearest Sister Edith,
It has been far too long since we last corresponded, and I hope this letter finds you and your family in good health and high spirits. Life here in Hallsport has been a whirlwind, as you can imagine, with our family farm demanding much of our time and attention. I wanted to share some updates about our dear boys, specifically Levi and Marvin, as I know you can not imagine how much they have grown since you last heard from us quite some time ago.
Levi and Marvin have grown into strong and capable young men, enthusiastically taking to farm life. Their dedication to the land and the animals reminds me of their father, William Erastus, and his father before him for that matter. It is truly heartwarming to see our sons carrying on the family tradition.
However, my dear sister, as much as I am proud of them, I cannot help but worry about Levi. He is growing up so quickly, and it seems he is neglecting his studies. His passion for the farm has consumed him, and he does not see the value in learning to read or write beyond what is required to manage our land. While I understand his devotion, I fear he may limit himself in the long run.
On the other hand, Marvin has a natural charm and an easygoing personality that endears him to everyone he meets. He enjoys the social aspects of farm life, visiting neighbors and listening to their stories. He takes his responsibilities on the farm seriously, but he also brings joy and laughter to our family. I am not sure he will be content to live forever as a farmer. But I do not need to worry about two boys, one is quite enough for me.
The two boys, despite their different personalities, are inseparable. They share everything, from the chores on the farm to adventures in the woods and the fields. Their bond is strong, and I am grateful for the love and support they give each other. I can see John Sterns watching the two boys interact, and he so wants to be with them, but he is yet too young for them to be of any interest to them. But Sterns has chosen to annoy them to get his attention. It does work sometimes.
Our dear William works tirelessly to ensure the success of our farm, and I am always in awe of his dedication. He and Levi spend hours discussing the intricacies of farming, and I can see the admiration in Levi’s eyes for his father’s knowledge and experience. Our family is fortunate to have such a steadfast and loving father.
Life in Hallsport remains simple yet fulfilling. We face challenges, especially with limited medical care and resources. But our community is strong, and we find solace in the natural beauty of our surroundings and the company of our family and friends.
I long for the day when we can reunite and share our lives in person once more. Until then, I send you my love and hope you will keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we do for you.
With all my love,
Zilpha Anne Green
As the sun began to rise, casting a warm golden light across the kitchen, Zilpha Anne bustled about, preparing breakfast for the family. The sizzle of bacon filled the air and smelled of freshly baked bread. Wiping his hands on a towel, William Erastus began to set the table, laying out plates and utensils.
Glancing at Zilpha, he asked, “I saw you writing a letter. Your sister? Without looking up, Zilpha said: “Yeah, Edith.” He placed the last plates on the table and continued, “What did you tell her?”
Zilpha Anne smiled, stirring the eggs in a pan. “I shared with her how proud we are of all the kids, but mostly about Levi and Marvin. I told her how big they are getting, how cute it is to see their dedication to the farm, and how they’ve grown into such capable young men.”
William Erastus nodded, placing a jug of milk on the table. “They truly are a blessing. But we must consider how to best utilize their strengths this summer. The farm needs all hands on deck, and we should ensure they work together well.”
Zilpha Anne pulled the food off the stove and moved the pan of eggs to the table. “You’re right, Levi is so focused on the crops and the land, and he learns so much from you. He’ll be invaluable in the fields this summer.”
William Erastus chuckled softly, “Indeed. And Marvin, with his charm and knack for machinery, will be perfect for maintaining our equipment and repairing the fences and bar for the animals. It will be a huge help for me this year. We can always count on him to keep spirits high and to pick on Levi. I enjoy him winding that boy up,” Willam Erastus chuckled.
Zilpha Anne agreed, “Yes, their different personalities complement each other so well. I believe that together, they will help us achieve a successful season.”
As they finished setting the table, the sound of footsteps echoed down the hallway, signaling the arrival of the Green clan. It was every man and woman for themselves. The smell of bacon on the stove signaled the start of the day, and nobody would miss that. As the family gathered around the table, Zilpha Anne leaned toward William Erastus and reminded him of their next youngest son, John Sterns. “We mustn’t forget about Sterns,” she said, buttering a slice of bread. “He has taken such a keen interest in the horses lately. It great to see him taking ownership of their care.” William Erastus and Zilpha Anne exchanged a knowing glance, confident that their sons all had the abilities and looking forward to the challenges and rewards of the upcoming summer on the farm.
William Erastus nodded in agreement, sipping his coffee. “Yes, his dedication to keeping them fed, clean, and healthy is truly remarkable. It’s as if he has a natural gift for understanding their needs.”
Levi said, are you talking about Sterns? Zilpha Anne interjected, “You would do well to mind your own business young lad.” She winked at her son before Levi continued, “Sterns is good with animals, always has been, but this spring I think he’s taken it to a new level with the horses. I think they sense his calmness when he is around them. But that’s about the only time he’s calm,” said the slow-moving Marvin Wheeler as he sat in his assigned seat.
Marvin added with a more serious tone, “He even taught me a thing or two about brushing them and checking their hooves. It’s clear he’s passionate about it.”
Zilpha Anne smiled, her eyes filled with pride. “It’s wonderful to see each of you boys finding your unique path on our farm. With Levi’s expertise in the fields, Marvin’s skill with machinery, and now John’s talent with the horses, our family is truly blessed.”
William Erastus put down his coffee cup and looked at his sons. “And as we plan for the upcoming summer season, we must ensure that we work together, utilizing each of your strengths. Our farm depends on the collaboration and hard work of all family members.”
Feeling encouraged by his parents’ words, John excitedly said, “I promise to do my best with the horses, Pa. I’ll make sure they’re strong and ready to help with the work in the fields.”
The family felt a sense of unity and purpose with the sun now fully risen, casting its warm glow throughout the kitchen. They knew that, with their combined efforts and each of them contributing their unique talents, the upcoming summer season would be one of growth, hard work, and, most importantly, love and support for one another.
Finishing his meal and excusing himself from the table, a sense of concern washed over William Erastus as he stepped onto the porch, thinking about his boys working the farm. He couldn’t help but think about the upcoming school year and Levi’s recent confession that he had no interest in attending school in the fall.
As William Erastus rolled a new cigarette, he wondered if Levi was a dedicated young man who had already shown much potential as a farmer. Of course, he was, but is it right to let him drop out of school and focus solely on the farm? So many boys in Hallsport follow that path, but William Erastus couldn’t help but worry about Levi’s future.’
He thought he should dedicate more time to teaching him everything I knew about farming before school started. That way, he’ll have a solid foundation if he decides to pursue it as his life’s work. But is that enough? What if he changes his mind later on, and it’s too late for him to catch up on his education?’
William Erastus sighed heavily, feeling torn between the importance of education and allowing his son the freedom to choose his path. He understands Levi’s passion for farming and is proud of him for knowing what he wants. However, William Eratsu Green knew it was his responsibility as his father to ensure the young boy was prepared for whatever life may bring. If he chooses not to attend school, will he be able to overcome the challenges that may come with it?’
As the sun rose in the sky, casting a warm, golden light over the farm, William Erastus knew that difficult decisions lay ahead. Balancing his son’s desire to follow his dreams as a farmer, as William himself had done at his son’s age, with the need for a well-rounded education would require wisdom, understanding, and love. Ultimately, he could only guide Levi the best he could and hoped they would find the right path together, leading to a bright and prosperous future for the entire family.