Kevin Wolfe’s Farm Tales Part 2: ‘The Day We Beat the Heat’

Another great story from Kevin Wolfe about his family's experience starting their farm/homestead. We would like to make these kinds of stories regular features on Beginning Farmers, so please send your 'farm tales' along to us at!

To see Kevin's first story in this series and to read his bio, visit Tuesday, November 16th's story: 'White Elvis'

It was the summer of 1980.  I was only seven years old at the time.  I remember it was one of the hottest summers on record for the area of Arkansas that we lived in.  We hadn’t lived on the little farm very long.  We moved from a nearby town called Heber Springs.  Town life just wasn’t in the cards for our family.  Daddy loved to garden and momma did too.  The country offered us a chance to reclaim part of an existence that was becoming closer to extinct every day. Tired of the city life, my parents had purchased a small section of land not too far from the Little Red River.  The area had been a large farm until recent years.  Now it was being subdivided into smaller parcels of land for development.  We were the first to buy any of the land.  Basically, we now owned a big field that my parents saw as a blank canvas, just waiting for the right artist to create upon it.   When I say blank canvas, I mean blank.  No running water.  And only one small sapling tree in the middle.  My folks had a power pole installed which was run about a mile from the nearest road. Our next step was to establish some kind of dwelling for us to live in.  Momma sewed a tent from bed sheets and Daddy ran strings from our car to the lonely little tree.  We had a nice little camp set up in no time.  Although, I do remember the mosquitoes were biting us so badly that we stayed in the car more than in the tent.   Dad purchased a small trailer and we had it set up and ready to move into in no time.

As I said before, the summer of 1980 was a scorcher.  We had no air conditioning, other than a box fan and wet towels that we would drape over our heads.  Needless to say, we stayed as still as we could and as close to the fan as we were able to.  Momma used a wood cook stove, so the kitchen stayed very warm as well.  We had a well dug, which produced ice cold water from an underground artesian stream.  Momma wouldn’t let Daddy drop a pump into the well though, she said it would pollute the water. So we had no running water.  We would use a well bucket, draw our water and put it in galvanized buckets, then walk the buckets of water about two hundred feet to the trailer.  It seemed we had no frills, yet we never felt that way.  We were so very happy.
One hot July day, the farmer working his field behind our area told us he was going to irrigate his field from the large slue that was beside us. It had formed from the old train tracks that had run along the side of it.  This was the old Missouri and North Arkansas rail road.  The track was long gone but the slue had formed into a very large body of water over the years.
I had no idea what this “irrigating” word meant, so I kept on playing.  The days ahead were interesting to me.  The farmer kept bringing in large sections of pipe.  He laid the pipe out all over the ten acre field and connected it to its water source.   The next morning, I saw the greatest sight of my entire seven year old life.  Giant spouts of water shooting upwards of twenty feet in the air danced through out what seemed like miles of field!  I was suddenly in my very own water park!  Never looking back, I bolted for the jets of water.  They were so cool to my hot skin and refreshing on that 100 degree day!  I ran from spout to spout soaked from head to toe!
Before I knew it, my father had come along and was running through the water as well!  I had never seen anything like this.  I’m sure most anyone would have thought we were crazy but to us it was a blessing from Heaven!  The day we beat the heat!

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