14170 Wilsonville Rd., Wilsonville, Oregon (now known as Riverview Farm)
The Fergus children had a very work-oriented relationship with their father. Instructions for chores were given and expected to be done. There may have been a lot of playing between times, but the job always got done. Many times the children would play tag in the dark and before long Boyd would be in on the game, chasing them. It was fun until he caught one of them because they were in trouble for not doing their chores.
One of the children’s many jobs at the Couche place was to kill squirrels and bluejays because they would eat the nuts from the trees in the orchard. Sometimes they shot them, other times they left poison barley out in the open, or they built traps or cages to catch them. Another one of the children’s jobs at the Couche place was to drive the tricycle tractor, called so because it had three wheels. Howard was often accused of trying to drive it up a tree. Usually Howard or Darwin, would hook up a trailer to the tractor and use it to carry the household garbage up the ridge to the end of the cliff overlooking the river. Their difficult and sometimes scary job was to back that trailer up to the edge in order to dump the garbage. It would have been so easy to slip over the edge of the cliff.
One day while the boys were working in the barn, they had an awful argument and got Monty into trouble. Monty had a habit of hiding when he was upset or in trouble, so after the argument he slipped into the house to hide. While everyone was out looking for him he got tired. He crawled into bed and pulled the covers up. The family looked and looked for him outside, never thinking that he might be inside the house in his own bed, sound asleep.
Life on the farm, while fun, could be fraught with danger for children because of the heavy responsibilities they had. They had their share of accidents and Monty in particular, seemed accident prone. One night, after a day full of pranks and setting booby traps in the barn, the kids were rushing around to get the cows and calves fed so that they could go to the movies (a Ma and Pa Kettle double feature). They had forgotten however, about one booby trap that had not been sprung; a covered rope strung between the calf pen and the hay. Monty came running through the barn, hit the rope, and stabbed himself with a pitchfork. He insisted on going to the movies anyway. During the wait in the ticket line, Boyd and Cleo had to ask if Monty could wait for them inside the theater because he was in so much pain. As they came inside, Monty was waiting for them on the stairs. He was sick through the whole movie.
The kids always knew how to have a good time together. Sometimes, too much of a good time. Once after milking the cows they started playing around and let the milk sit out until the calves ate most of it. To cover up their “crime” the kids added water to the milk to bring up the volume, and then took the pails up to the house. Cleo was so surprised as she tried to separate the milk and there was no cream in it. Another prank the Fergus children loved was throwing apples and pears at the chickens, knocking them flat, and then dunking them in the water trough to bring them back to consciousness. Apples could also be stuck on the end of twigs and sticks, preferably apple suckers which were supple. Then you could swing it like a sling shot and watch the apple fly. This brought trouble when they managed to hit the house.