I think we were poor, but I really don’t know. We always had enough food, and I had clothes; we had livestock and fields with vegetables and fruits, our pantries and the cellar were stocked with jars and cans, but money was tight. Most farmers are not rich; they are just getting by, and we were no exception.
“We are going to rent rooms out to tourists,” she said, and I just looked at my Grandmother. “What rooms?” and so it began.
The upstairs rooms were turned into guest rooms. “Why would people want to rent a room on a farm?” I wondered, but I didn’t say anything. I helped to get the rooms ready, didn’t want to argue with my Grandmother but I was worried. We had put so much work into it, what if nobody would show up?
“We are going to offer breakfast and dinner,” she decided, and we turned our second living room into a big dining room.
“How will people find us?” I asked foolishly, not knowing that she already had put an advertisement in local newspapers and pictures of our farm were hanging in travel agencies.
I didn’t want to see my Grandmother disappointed, and hoped one or two people would make reservations or show up. I was not looking forward to it. I wasn’t crazy about the idea of strangers on our farm. What if they have kids, and they would be in my things?
Summertime is a busy time on a farm. That’s when we had to hire helpers to get everything done. These tourists would be in our way. “This won’t work,” I thought but didn’t say it out loud.
The letters arrived, and phone calls came in. People from Italy, Austria and Germany made reservations. The city folks wanted to spend some time away from the city…go figure!
Summer came, the school year was over, and the tourists arrived. Cars with funny licence plates were parked around our house. People were walking through our fields; kids were running around. I hated it!
“These tourists will ruin my summer vacation,” I thought and made up my mind that I wouldn’t like any of them.
As so often I was wrong. All of them were very nice, many of them came back every year and spent the summer with us.
All of a sudden there was free help on our farm. They wanted to help us milk the cows, the wanted to ride the tractor and mow the fields. The wanted to learn farm life first hand.
Kids helped to pick the fruits; women were cooking and canning in the kitchen, and the men were in the fields. We all worked together like one big family. They brought a grill -something that I had never seen- and we had our first BBQ. I went hiking with them and showed them the nearby lakes. In return, they taught me many things that I had never seen. I got my first kiss from a tourist boy. 🙂
Normally we paid the helpers to help us; now they paid us to help. Now that’s genius!
I have very fond memories of the times we spent with OUR TOURISTS. We exchanged Birthday and Christmas cards and I got invited to visit them in the city. Many of them showed up at my Grandmother’s funeral and showed their respect.