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.)
6 thoughts on “Women's Work, and Dads.”
Anna, I remember Lloyd as a man with fierce loyalty to his beloved Chico and his barns of birds, raising so many fantastic feathered creatures. He loved his family with a gruff passion and humor. He really wanted you to have that horse of your dreams. He also made a mean thousand island dressing from scratch. What a guy!
Thanks, Emily, for remembering him in a kind light, it is good to make peace with these guys. And HOW did I forget that dressing???
Well, I’ve never had thousand island dressing like it in the last 40 years and he would never tell me what all he snuck into that recipe. I really think he could have been the founder of Lloyd’s Inc. and could have made his millions off that dressing. Except then he wouldn’t really have been doing what he loved, counting and hatching hundreds of eggs–pheasants, doves, chickens, quail and all the rest. When a pheasant walks by my window, or I hear one call in the woods, I think of him. I have avoided peacocks however….
I LOVE that picture! I thank Lloyd for teaching you all those skills that I don’t know how to do, so that my donkeys can have a safe and happy place to live.
Loved your blog on your Dad……..certainly jerked at my heart strings………….my Dad too was a “Lloyd” and was a WWII Vet. Farmer/Truck Driver. I so remember the summers spent camping in Yosemite National Park with all my family back in the early 60’s and my Dad would walk and hike holding two lead ropes and on the other ends of those ropes were my brother on “Duke” and me on “Father” two very sweet donkeys that were stabled at the barn we camped near. Three different summers we were delighted and blessed to have repeated that same trek………same donkeys……same dear ol Dad, faithful and fun ……..he did lead the way in many aspects in my life that I am eternally grateful! One day it dawned on me …..my life is similar to those camping trips…………I have been living in the pines for many a year here in Colorado………..blessed and surrounded with Donkeys ……….remembering those times spent with my Dad and a Donkey in the woods.
He and my mom ended up moving just 3.3 miles from our door step years ago and ironically he passed away the same day I sold a little jack donkey.
I miss him.
Van Camps! Wonder if it was a pork and beans box! Beautiful story Anna…