When I flipped my office calendar to November this morning I was surprised to see a photo of an old red barn reminiscent of the one on the old Forestiere ranch in California. It had a tall roof on the main barn/loft, and a low, sloping roof on the side where a shed had been added. My grandparents lived on the ranch for a few years and then we lived there for a short time. I’ve written of it many times because it was such a unique place and so many things happened while we were there. One of the more painful things that occurred there took place at the old barn.
I was eleven and my brothers were 7, 4, and 3 when we lived on the ranch. They were always “into something” and there was plenty on the ranch to get in to: an old tunnel left from the days of prohibition; a deep, dark wine cellar; animal cages and watering troughs; a pig pen…and of course, the big red barn. The boys were not content to go inside the barn. The older two liked to climb a ladder to the shed roof and figure out ways to jump off. They had tried capes and wings and all sorts of outfits and devices that would enable them to “fly” onto a pile of hay below the barn. For a long time my youngest brother was content to just watch them and giggle. But one day he decided to join them!
I’m not sure what prompted me to look for him. Probably the usual admonition from my mother to “go see what your brothers are doing”. Anyway, when I looked Jim was halfway up the ladder! I ran, barefooted, across the yard, up the ladder, grabbed his little body with one arm, and transferred his weight to my hip. He started protesting and waving his chubby little arms as I hauled him down the ladder. I didn’t look at the ground and ended up stepping off to the side and onto a small piece of barbed wire. The sharp prong went through my little toe!
I managed to hobble back to the house with my little charge. Mom took one look at the wire stuck in my foot and hollered for my dad.
Now I have to tell you that my parents were not apt to take us to the doctor unless absolutely necessary. So they did what they usually did…called my grandmother. Mom laid me down on the bed and held me while Dad removed the wire with a pair of pliers. Gran told them to wash my foot in bleach, which they did. It stopped bleeding in a few minutes and they wrapped my foot in a makeshift cloth bandage. I limped around for a week while it healed. And I always blamed my little brother for my pain and suffering. Lol
My childhood was filled with such incidents. We were always getting hurt or sick, but someone in the family would try whatever home remedy they knew before we ever resorted to actual medical care. I don’t suppose the pain in my foot would have been lessened by the treatment of a doctor. I’m just glad I didn’t die of some infection!