Lloyd Blake was a farmer and even now it isn’t an easy life to romanticize. I worked outside with him from early on. Farms are no respecter of sex or age- work had to be done by those available to do it. Dad taught me to drive tractor during haying season- before I was tall enough reach the brake. (I had to grip the wheel, slide off the seat and push hard with my foot!) He also taught me to cook. He was a proud and pained combat veteran of WWII, who backed George Wallace, and taught me early to hate guns. What better man to raise an eclectic cowgirl like me?
My legacy from the farm was that I always wanted to be strong and capable- and seeing the gender lines was not important. It came as a shock to my father to end up raising a feminist but to me it was simple logic. I still value strength above cosmetics. My life has always included open-minded men, self-motivated work and animals.
I have been replacing my perimeter fence this last month; lots of post holes to dig and wire to stretch. I have had some help but the lions share has been me. At 55, it still feels good to be strong and capable. Yesterday as I drove off in a pickup piled high with old fencing for the recycle center, I was thinking about my Dad. He has been gone for 16 years now.
Once while I was in my late teens, my father was walking behind me at the airport, and I heard him mutter, “You walk like Eleanor Roosevelt.” Coming from him, this was certainly no compliment. Naturally, she was a hero of mine and I turned with a smile- “Eleanor says, No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Belligerently missing his point was my favorite game.
Now that the sun has set on our battles- I need to take a moment to thank Dad for my tight, crisp fence and easy working gates. He bought me my first horse too. I am more grateful now, Dad. Thanks for this life.
I know some amazing women, and I wonder about your dads- I hope you will share a memory here…
(Photo: Dad and me (box trained- already wearing bad hats) fishing at the lake, 1955.)