As a young boy growing up on a farm, I had great dreams. I always wanted to be really good at something. I remember learning to drive the old 8N Ford tractor. I was still pretty young because the chores were many.
Plowing the garden and the fields, getting the land ready for planting, as well as bushhogging, was exciting. We hauled chicken manure from the chicken house with a wheel barrow which was a lot of hard, sweaty, stinky work but the garden did so much better with the “homegrown” fertilizer, so that’s what we did.
Then one day Dad bought an old ’50 Ford pick-up truck. It was red, had a flathead V8 engine and a three-speed floor shift transmission, fat fenders we could ride on, as well as running boards to hang from. It was great.
Dad let me drive it on the farm, even though I was only 11 years old. Wow. What a change of attitude I had. I looked forward to doing a lot of the chores, which I previously dreaded, because of the truck. It made farming a lot more fun.
We never owned a chainsaw in those days. The rich sawmill people were the only folks well enough to afford one of those babies. We only had a seven-inch crosscut saw and a dull ax – a very dull ax if I remember correctly. All the firewood, some folks called them “logs,” had to be cut down back in the woods, dragged up to the barn and cut into approximately 18-inch pieces with the dull ax.
Ten family members lived in the small-framed home; mom, dad and eight happy children. Our home was one of discipline and love. I never got a whipping I didn’t deserve.
We learned to swim at an early age, thanks to the fish pond below the barn in the pasture. We swam with the fish, snakes, turtles and ducks and really enjoyed it.
I wanted to play football when I got to high school at Madison County, and I did – at least at practice. I’m a big guy now, but back in high school I might have weighed 155 pounds soaking wet, plus I was near-sighted and had a real hard time keeping up with who was carrying the ball (and that was real important since I played linebacker on defense). I always dreamed of making that one great play – but it never happened. I didn’t even get to play enough quarters to earn a football jacket in the sport, but that’s OK too. I still love football.
I was good at something though – cutting grass. We had a really big yard around our house in the country and a really small 18-inch cut push lawnmower.
I remember how proud my dad would be when he came home near dark on the days I would work all day mowing all the grass, even the sloped areas going up to the road. I would look at his face and see that big smile of his and hear him say, “Mike, the yards are really beautiful, you’ve done a great job.”
You couldn’t have slapped the smile off my face with a two-foot pipe wrench, or made me happier than I was at the moment. My dad was proud of me and making my dad proud of me was the ultimate high.
So I never became a great farmer or a professional football player — so what?
I’m a good lawn-mowing man and I made my dad proud.
Since those days of long ago on the farm, I have given my life over to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and today, though I’m retired, I find myself working for Him. I love to preach His gospel and sing praises of His name.
I still cut a lot of grass and think of my earthly father and my Heavenly Father, both looking down on me from heaven and saying to me “Mike, keep up the good work and preach My Word.”
I’m available for preaching and revival services. Call or write to Mike Reilly, P.O. Box 10, Hull, 30646; 706-850-5274.