By Estil Fretwell and Margaret Fretwell
Missouri Farm Bureau
While going through some old family papers, I came across a short story written 40 years ago by my mom, Margaret. As background, our family farm is in northeast Missouri where success in growing soybeans after a harvested wheat crop is extremely uncertain due to the shorter growing season and unpredictable rainfall. We all know that were Mother Nature is involved, there are always risks. But the memories of being raised on a family farm are special and the rewards as sweet and as simple as a gold-colored sofa.
I never will forget the summer of ’72. That was the year I got my new sofa.
The crops were all in and the corn laid by, rather early this year. Yet, there was one field left, looking very empty and lonely, as if we had passed it by.
We had just harvested the wheat crop off the field and noticed the clover, or undercrop, didn’t survive the winter as the spring was so dry.
Being farmers, nothing must be wasted. We each took a tractor and away we went to the empty field.
We plowed. We disked. We planted. We then sat back and waited.
It was late, but if everything went right we would have a crop.
Well, the rains came just the right time in late summer and we watched it grow. What excitement! There never was or never will be a field so loved and so watched as that bean crop.
Sure enough, beans started forming and stretching and waving their heads, as if to say “watch me, I can do it.” And watch it we did. Each day we could see them grow and mature. Right then we decided the profits from this one special field were to be “mama’s.”
Our little orange Allis-Chalmers combine stood gassed and ready for the right moment to harvest our special bean crop. Of course, it was late.
All eyes were on the market as the time approached.
We kidded with the ferry man who would ferry us across the muddy Mississippi to the grain elevator. We joked with the elevator man and said the market just had to go up for that one load of beans.
The market price then was $2.94 a bushel; but, believe it or not, the day I drove over with my precious load the market went up nine cents a bushel to $3.03. The highest of the year and lasted only one day.
Everyone in the county knew of the adventure, it seemed, and were wondering what “mama” would spend the money for. There always seemed to be so many places for the “extra” money, and with three children to educate, somehow we always learned to make do.
This was different. This was mine, and I wanted a new sofa. It had to be a special sofa. One I had always dreamed of.
I found it!
It was a gold queen-size sofa-bed with a bright flowered design just waiting for me to claim it. And claim it I did. It has since held a prominent place in our sitting room, waiting to be used and enjoyed. It has been opened many times for overnight guests of family and friends. The bed is always made.
Won’t you come by some time and try it out? You are all most cordially welcome to try out “mama’s sofa.”