Barbara Lawlor, Nederland.. “Sooooeee!”
The high-pitched shriek of Nederland Elementary School students broke through the late summer air Thursday and Friday, September 7 and September 8. The kids were calling their pigs in for dinner with the time-honored hog call during the annual NES Track and Field Days, a chance to run and leap and pull and push and learn about the daily chores of living on a farm.
On Thursday, the third and fourth graders had their opportunity to perform and on Friday, the first and second graders brought those pigs in for their grub.
Now the hard part of the chore is not letting up on the call, not letting the pigs have a chance to run the other way, so the students had to yell until they ran out of breath; then they had to stop. The idea was to be the one that could run the farthest on one breath.
Once the kids got the swine into the yard, it was time to “Slop them,” to carry the food to the pig pen, or in this case, the boards with a hole where the mouth would be.
Each chore was fun and energy releasing as well as creating some divisive lines as to who wanted to be a farmer when they grew up and who didn’t.
Cleaning the Swimming Hole involved picking up all kinds of slimy creatures out of the muck; Milkin’ Ole Bessie was an exercise in running with a bucket filled with milk, some of which made it to the larger jug.
The Barn’s A-Burnin was the children’s chance to practice putting out a fire, wearing a firefighter helmet and forming a bucket brigade. It was a good thing it was a hot day, as part of the solution was getting doused.
When half of the chores were completed, all of the students sat and on the curb around the field and slurped up popsicles donated by B & F Mountain Market.
The rest of the day included Dressin’ the Scarecrow, Critter Call, Fixin’ the Tractor, and Fetchin’ the Eggs.
The annual event is something the kids look forward to at the beginning of the year. Making it work smoothly, successfully, is due to the organizational leadership of physical education teacher Mary Joyce and the gentle guidance of the fifth graders. They are now the top dogs in the school and have been through the various themes of previous years and relish the opportunity to be teachers instead of students.
Volunteer John Leventhal, known as Farmer John, wore his straw hat and bandanna and played the part with humor and energy.
It was a great two days to be farmers.
(Originally published in the September 21, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)