Through the eyes of a 4-year-old


It has proven to be true: you can take the country boy off of the farm, but you can’t sweep the country off the boy.

A long weekend to the lake house of his great-grandparents found Oliver and his little brother Johnny figuring out how to “farm” all of greater Lake Erie, including the sidewalks and little residential streets of the cottage community.

Their mama, busy with baby Autumn, was worn out trying to keep up with them all. As soon as he finished haying work on the farm, their papa headed north to join them.

While sitting down to a nice meal as a family, Oliver cleanly ate about two little rows of his corn on the cob, then got down to play.

“Hey, buddy,” his daddy said to him, “you left a lot of corn behind … why don’t you get back up here and pretend you are a combine and get the rest of that corn?”

Oliver, standing nearby, looked sweetly at his parents and said, “I’m pretending it’s too wet.”

My nephew and his wife looked at each other, stunned speechless. “Well, what do you say to THAT?” he later said, in sharing this memorable story with me.

Seeing the world

Oliver just turned 4 this spring, and sees the entire world in farming terms. When he came with his daddy to visit after our barn fire back in January, the first question Oliver asked was, “Did you get the John Deere tractor out OK?”

When I shook my head no, trying hard to hold back tears for all that was lost, little Oliver seemed to know exactly what I needed.

“I’ve got a squeezer for ya,” he said, and hugged me with all his might.

A few months later, as winter gave way to bearable temperatures, my nephew Todd stopped one evening while out looking over his fields. I hunted up old toy tractors and Oliver and Johnny helped me do some back porch farming.


“When are you gonna take the lid off that swimming pool?” Oliver asked.

I said not until it felt warm enough to think about swimming. His answer, wisely, was, “Well, if you wait too long we will be too busy in the fields to come swimming, ya know.”

When the pool finally was opened, Oliver was proven right. The field work came first, and so did new baby sister Autumn. One beautiful June evening, the family finally made it over for a swim, along with my sister and brother-in-law, their grandparents. Oliver said he was ready to jump in. Johnny, not quite 2, shook his head in enthusiastic agreement.

“Pretend that down there is the soybean field,” I heard Oliver instruct Johnny about the deep end of the pool. “We need you to stay in the hay field with Mom, right here,” he pointed to the steps in the shallow end.

Oliver deals with lots of challenges, including “pretend rain” and “pretend cows” that cause him all kinds of headaches. In the process, he brings those around him some mighty happy grins to share.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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