The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 12, Keith King Explored Opportunities for his Future
The Blacksmith at this Anvil
Keith King visited blacksmith Owen Olson at his shop
Shortly after the King family arrived in the Oak Springs area, town blacksmith Owen Olson invited 14-year-old Keith King to spend a day with him at the blacksmith shop - when he could spare a day away from work on their new farm. With the first half of the house built, and the planting done, his father, Karl, encouraged Keith to take a day to go into town and spend the day with Owen Olson. Keith got up early that morning, did up his chores early, and with the sun shining brightly, walked the mile and a half to the blacksmith shop. The brisk walk along the dirt road tended to raise the level of anticipation Keith felt as he walked past the end of their farm, for the first time. He looked ahead to the trees around Patton Spring that marked the location of the blacksmith shop on the far side.
Owen, wearing his heavy, black leather apron, was hard at work at the anvil pounding a fiery red piece of iron as Keith arrived at the shop. Keith waited at a distance, under a big tree, and wiped the sweat from his brow with his red kerchief. Owen looked up, saw Keith, and smiled. He motioned Keith to come over closer, as he continued to pound on his project. Periodically, he put the iron back in the fire, held by his tongs, and then resumed his work, when the piece was reheated. Shortly, the sizzle of the iron piece in a bucket of water indicated he had completed that piece, for now, at least. He shook Keith's hand, and at the same time, proceeded to explain to Keith, in some detail, the precise techniques he was using for the particular task he had just finished. He then explained how this job fit into the overall project he was working to complete.
Through the day, Owen continued to explain, in detail, each activity he did. From time to time, he had Keith attempt to perform simple tasks, similar to whatever it was Owen had just done. Owen pointed out, from time to time, what an apprenticeship in this type of work would entail. He knew that Keith was not especially interested in an apprenticeship, but, being the right age, it was only proper to talk to him in those terms. Keith responded with great interest and had many questions. During their lunch break, Owen asked questions to get Keith talking about his interests, what he enjoyed doing, and the kinds of things he did that he didn't particularly enjoy. It was a great opportunity for Keith to think about some things that he had not really given much thought to, previously.
As the work day came to an end, Keith thanked Owen for the many great experiences he had had during his day in the shop. Owen thanked Keith for showing so much interest and for being willing to try some pretty tough tasks for someone not accustomed to doing this kind of work. Owen offered to talk to Keith anytime that he had further questions. Keith headed down the road back to the farm with his head held high, his chest out, and strong sense of accomplishment for a day well spent.
The first novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of historical fiction family saga stories
Part of an education comes from books
Keith talked with his parents about his future
Keith and his parents talked about the future regularly, particularly talking about the options for activities on the farm and about education in general but they had not recently really set down to talk about Keith's future and the choices in front of him. Keith realized his future was closely tied to the future of the farm as well as the future of his parents. A couple of days after Keith's visit to the blacksmith shop, his Pa and Ma made an extra effort to create a time when they could talk to Keith about his future, specifically. He was pleased to take the opportunity to have that talk. He first assured them that he had no interest in pursuing blacksmithing, whether or not that was an option. It had been fascinating to learn more about the processes involved, but it was not something he would want to do, long term.
Katherine shared some of her conversation with the school teacher, Nellie Truesdale. She said that after talking to Miss Truesdale, she was reminded of how important an education really was. The teacher had also said that with the schooling that Keith had been getting at home, there should be no doubt that he would be prepared to attend secondary school in the fall, should they decide that was the best course of action, both for him and for the family. Keith admitted that he had been giving that option more thought than his parents may have realized. Karl then talked some about the farm. He said that he was very pleased with how far they had come in the short time they had been at their new farm. Work had gone even better than he had anticipated. Keith's work had been very valuable. Then, he went on to talk about the fact that the farm was really his life. He had made that choice already, and he was happy with the decision. It was nice having Keith to help, but, if Keith was willing to go off to school for three or four years, to explore a bit more what the world had to offer, he would not want the work on the farm to keep him from doing it. Keith's Pa added, then, that he felt his own further schooling had been very beneficial, both in how much more he had learned, but also the added maturity he had at the end of it to make better decisions. Keith should have that opportunity, he said. He should even have the opportunity to make the decision of whether to go on to college, if that opportunity were available when that decision time came.
Keith thanked his parents for their continuing support, and especially for this discussion opportunity. He suggested that they seriously consider the possibility of him going to secondary school this fall, and talk some more. Karl said that was a good approach, and Katherine agreed. Karl added that they did have sufficient savings, at this time, to be able to send Keith to school, if that was their decision. They agreed to continue the conversation when they had gathered further information.
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They prepared to wean the pigs
Work on the farm continued
Karl, with the help of both Keith and 10-year-old Kent, used boards they had saved and earmarked, as well as some of the fencing material they bought at the sale barn to build a separate small shed and fenced in area for the piglets to live in when they were weaned from the sow at about three to four weeks after birth. Provisions for water and feed were also provided. Karl showed Keith and Kent the best techniques he knew to use to assure that the pigs could not get out of the fencing. But, he also reminded Keith and Kent that pigs have a way of getting around any sort of protection, so to help him in being alert to the pigs staying inside the fencing.
They also talked about the plan to take the sow over to the Dent's farm to breed her again so that she would have another litter before the fall. They also discussed the plans for the nine little pigs, assuming they each lived, as far as growing them to be sows, to be a boar, and/or being butchered for food for the family. They did not currently have ham and bacon as part of their diet, unless they bought some in town. Currently, Karl showed his sons that they had five male and four female pigs. His plan, if all worked well, would be to keep the four females as sows, if they continued to grow healthy and exhibited the necessary characteristics. He would hope to get one boar from the first litter, again, if one of the pigs exhibited the necessary characteristics. The other males would be casterated and eventual butchered or sold.
With the whole family, Karl reminded them that they would be separating the chickens into laying hens, roosters, and broiler chickens. The broilers would be ready for slaughter starting at about 6-8 weeks. They all looked forward to fried chicken as well as chicken and noodles meals. They would also appreciate having more eggs, both to eat and to sell on Saturdays. They were already enjoying the additional milk they now had from having two cows.
The latest novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of historical fiction
Learn more about "The Homeplace Saga" series of stories
- "The Homeplace Saga" Blog
The home blog for "The Homeplace Saga" series of historical fiction family saga stories set in the southern Missouri Ozarks. All updates of the series are mentioned here, regardless of platform. Watch of the release of the forthcoming collection
Note from the author
This is the twelfth episode of this short story series set in the Ozarks Mountain setting of “The Homeplace Saga” family saga of historical fiction. This story begins in 1876, following the time period (1833-1875) of the forthcoming “Founding of the Homeplace” collection of short stories. Some of these earlier stories are published on The Homeplace Saga blog, found at the link, below.
“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”