Every school holiday held a certain glumness for my sister and I. Dad behind the wheel, our 1962 blue and wood paneled station wagon would whisk us off. "Shipped to the farm," we called it, our nausea quickened by gas fumes belching up into the open tail gait window.

At the farm, our first greeters served as horrific reminders of what farm life would do to us. Old, black cat Tom, whose blue sheen had long left him, appeared as though the food was never quite adequate here. Queeny, the scruffy grey, had her tail caught in a corn reaper when she hunted her own food in the fields below the house.

Uncle Lauren ran a rigid drill. Up early to milk the cows. (We were frightfully unskilled. The nasty rooster stalked us through the barn and out to fall face first in the cow dung high and fresh outside the milk house.)

Back on the house side of the road, we thought ourselves safe. Until Aunt Marian thrust us into the thick and thorny bramble of the blackberry patch, forbidden to exit until our large dented pails were full. She herself entered the thicket, but without the shorts and summer tees Debbie and I wore as poor protection against the blood-inducing prickles. She stood stern in full beekeeper garb - complete with netted pith helmet. Sister's screams clued me in that Auntie M's outfit was in direct response to the hundreds of bees that made their home amongst the blackberries.

Fresh fruit pies with worms, flies in the warm milk. Taking baths in the same water others would use. (Or worse, being the first in the tub's skin-scalding water.) Falling out of the hay mow, nearly buried alive in the corn crib. Farm life was not all too fun for us town-bred brats.

We were always thankful to be "shipped" home.