“Have you ever been chased by a rooster or seen a tractor in a pond or have a pig try to bite your toes?” asks Beth Wehr of Evans City, Butler County, Pa.
She has and she’s written a book about those and other adventures on her grandparents’ dairy farm.
In “Lessons Learned by a Farmgirl,” Wehr recounts a dozen experiences she and her older brothers had on the spread they call “the Funny Farm” in Fombell, Beaver County, a few miles west of Evans City.
“The events themselves are not just funny,” she explained. “They teach lessons that can be applied in daily life, lessons that our family has learned the hard way.”
Not all their adventures were humorous at the time they happened, she admitted. For example there were frozen water pipes, power outages, a well drilling that went awry and the tractor that ended up in the farm pond. That mishap is detailed in the chapter, “Always Make Sure the Brakes Are Set before Dismounting from a Farm Implement.”
Life lessons. Wehr’s writing isn’t limited to reminiscing. Each story concludes with a succinct summation of lessons learned because, she said, “Everyday experiences on a farm can remind us of Biblical truths.”
From her run-ins with her grandparents’ Rhode Island Red attack rooster that relentlessly stalked her around the farm, she draws this observation: “Just like I was never out of that rooster’s eyesight, I am never out of my Lord’s sight.”
The former Beth Ann Stuck introduces readers to her parents, Ruth, a church organist “known in the community for her easy refrigerator roll recipe,” and Claude, who “used to dust the engine of his car,” her grandparents, Ralph and Pearl Boots, and her older brothers, Duane and Brian.
Although she didn’t live on the Boots’ farm, she spent much of her childhood there and began recording her memories while attending Slippery Rock University in northern Butler County.
“I was in a college writing class my sophomore year and we had to make daily journal entries. I started writing down some of the funny things that happened on the farm.
“Different people said I should make that into a book, so I put all the stories together. Later I felt led to add a Biblical lesson you can learn from each story.”
Kept working on it. After graduating from Slippery Rock University in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, she continued polishing her manuscript while working as office manager of a child day care center in Allegheny County.
“At first, I thought the book was just for the family, a keepsake. But the idea would not go away that I was to publish it because other people might enjoy reading it.” She collected photographs taken on the farm to complement each chapter and found a publisher by the summer of 2000.
Wehr lives with her husband, Rob, in Evans City, but occasionally visits the farm where her brothers continue to work the land that has been in their family for five generations.
A sequel? “There are always weird things happening over there,” Wehr said of the farm, not ruling out the possibility of penning a sequel.
In the meantime, she enjoys writing Christian-themed poetry, has composed a choir anthem and is setting other poems to music. A trained organist, she provides organ and piano music for social events and gives storytelling presentations based on her book.
Wehr sells her book by mail for $9 a copy, including postage, and donates half the proceeds to the building fund of Harmony-Zelienople United Methodist Church where she is a member. Copies can be purchased by writing to Wehr at 306 Pattison St., Evans City, PA 16033.
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