A BOY ON A FARM
By Charles Dudley Warner
Say what you will about the general usefulness of boys, it is my
impression that a farm without a boy would very soon come to
grief. What the boy does is the life of the farm. He is the
factotum, always in demand, always expected to do the thousand
indispensable things that nobody else will do. Upon him fall all
the odds and ends, the most difficult things.
After everybody else is through, he has to finish up. His work is
like a woman's,--perpetually waiting on others. Everybody knows
how much easier it is to eat a good dinner than it is to wash the
dishes afterward. Consider what a boy on a farm is required to
do; things that must be done, or life would actually stop.
It is understood, in the first place, that he is to do all the
errands, to go to the store, to the post office, and to carry all
sorts of messages. If he had as many legs as a centiped, they
would tire before night. His two short limbs seem to him entirely
inadequate to the task. He would like to have as many legs as a
wheel has spokes, and rotate about in the same way.
This he sometimes tries to do; and the people who have seen him
"turning cart wheels" along the side of the road, have supposed
that he was amusing himself and idling his time; he was only
trying to invent a new mode of locomotion, so that he could
economize his legs, and do his errands with greater dispatch.
He practices standing on his head, in order to accustom himself
to any position. Leapfrog is one of his methods of getting over
the ground quickly. He would willingly go an errand any distance
if he could leapfrog it with a few other boys.
He has a natural genius for combining pleasure with business.
This is the reason why, when he is sent to the spring for a
pitcher of water, he is absent so long; for he stops to poke the
frog that sits on the stone, or, if there is a penstock, to put
his hand over the spout, and squirt the water a little while.
He is the one who spreads the grass when the men have cut it; he
mows it away in the barn; he rides the horse, to cultivate the
corn, up and down the hot, weary rows; he picks up the potatoes
when they are dug; he drives the cows night and morning; he
brings wood and water, and splits kindling; he gets up the horse,
and puts out the horse; whether he is in the house or out of it,
there is always something for him to do.
Just before the school in winter he shovels paths; in summer he
turns the grindstone. He knows where there are lots of
wintergreens and sweet flags, but, instead of going for them, he
is to stay indoors and pare apples, and stone raisins, and pound
something in a mortar. And yet, with his mind full of schemes of
what he would like to do, and his hands full of occupations, he
is an idle boy, who has nothing to busy himself with but school
He would gladly do all the work if somebody else would do the
chores, he thinks; and yet I doubt if any boy ever amounted to
anything in the world; or was of much use as a man, who did not
enjoy the advantages of a liberal education in the way of
chores. --From "Being a Boy."
Factotum, a person employed to do all kinds
Indispensable, absolutely necessary.
Centiped, an insect with a great number
Economize, to save.
Dispatch, diligence, haste.
Penstock, a wooden tube for conducting
Chores, the light work of the household
either within or without doors.
Call you tell of anything else that a boy
on a farm must do?
What advantages has a country boy over
a city boy?
What advantages has the city boy?
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