Yards and Gardens


My father bought a mix called “playground grass” for our yard because “I’m raising children, not lawns,” and our yard was the site of much active play, by us five and half the neighborhood.  Sometimes he’d be asked if a ball player was safe or out, and he’d give his verdict, even if he hadn’t seen the play.  “Doesn’t matter which.  They just need an answer so they can go on playing instead of arguing.”

Dad grew a myriad of plants in his small yard, replacing old with new, just to see how they grew.  Strawberries (which mostly fed the birds), comfrey (he or mom was allergic to it, so out it went), Jerusalem artichokes, castor beans (huge leaves), bamboo (took over half the yard), as well as roses, irises, wild violets, and even cotton one summer, just to see how it grew.  Mom gardened as well, the frog plant was from a tiny plant brought home from Bible school, as was the little pine.  It was something they did together.  Mom told of a robin that followed Dad around as he dug in the garden, throwing her the worms he found, and being scolded as a slacker when he stopped work to talk with Mom.  Robins can be so demanding.

When we were very young, Dad raised rabbits . . .  you can take the boy off the farm but . . .

I bought some kale plants at Anthony’s, even though I was pretty sure the squirrel, deer, woodchucks will chow down before I get much.  So far, they’ve left the kale alone, perhaps because of the clover I have encouraged in the back yard . . .  Must be Dad’s influence.


“Henderson irises” Wayne Gronefeld dug up at the site of Henderson Jr. High (now FHN), rescued from the bulldozer, grew at his home, and then gave rhizomes to teachers when Henderson closed.  Planted at my mother’s house, Sugarwood (this photo), and now at my new home.

The Garden  by “Daddy John” Fussner

Early one morning, Dough Doughy hitched his six big horses to his wagon.  He drove over to Sampson’s house and out to Sampson’s barn.  Then Dough Doughy and Sampson loaded a plow and a harrow on the wagon.  Soon they were heading out the gate and turning into the road.  They Saw Farmer Brown and By-Golly driving their wagons ahead of them.  As they passed Poppo’s house, he ran out and climbed up on the wagon.

Up the hill to the Orphans’ Home they went because it was garden day.  Soon Dough Doughy’s three big teams were pulling plows, and the dirt was really rolling.  Did you ever see a plow work?  If you haven’t, you have missed something worth seeing.  Farmer Brown’s team and By-Golly’s team were pulling harrows.  A harrow is like a big rake, and it breaks the plowed ground up very fine and levels it very smooth.

Dough Doughy, Farmer Brown, By-Golly, and Gramps were all sitting on some chairs and watching the teams.  No, the horses weren’t trained to farm by themselves.  The older boys were taking turns working the teams.  Yes sir, and they were teaching the younger ones how to prepare the garden for planting.

One little boy, just seven years old, was really having a good time.  It was his birthday; so he was the little big shot for the day.  He drove the two big blacks, then the grays, and then the white horses.  He gave the mules a round or two and then ended up riding one of Farmer Brown’s horses while the team was pulling the wooden drag to put the finishing touches to the garden.

By noon, all of the garden was ready, and some of the corn ground was plowed.  After a big dinner, complete with a birthday cake about half as big as the back door of your house, everyone went back to the garden.  Mr. McGregory was there with his planting machine, ready to go to work.  Mr. McGregory’s horses were good farmers, with three or four years of farm work behind them.  They knew how to pull a straight row.

First the sweet corn went in.  Lots of long rows, for everyone likes corn on the cob, and corn is used in soups and frozen and canned for winter use.  Then the beans, green beans, wax beans, red beans, all kinds of beans to eat fresh and to can, freeze, and dry for winter use.  Then the watermelons, cantaloupes, tomatoes, lettuce, and all the other good things it takes to make a garden.

Last, but not least, the six rows next to the yard were planted in cut-and-come-again flowers.  These flowers are used in the Orphans’ Home and in churches in town.  They are also sent to the hospital, the Old Folks’ Home, and to anyone else who likes flowers.  The children have lots of fun giving flowers to others.

Did you ever plant a little seed and watch it grow?  All it takes is a little dirt, a little water, and lots of sunshine and love.  Try it, won’t you?

More of Dad’s stories at




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    Apr 29, 2014 @ 01:12:44

    Your dad was wise and wonderful. I love your stories!


  2. storytellermary
    Apr 29, 2014 @ 17:34:31

    Thanks!! ❤


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