Although we lived in the town of Logan, Utah, my father, L. Tom Perry Sr., wanted his children to have the same kind of experiences he’d had growing up on a farm. We had a large backyard, with an aunt living on one side of our house and my grandfather on the other side. The three backyards became our farm, which included a garden, a pasture, a barn, and alfalfa fields. We learned how to cut the alfalfa with a scythe, let it dry, then store it in the barn.
We planted a garden, weeded it, and irrigated it. Some of my choicest childhood experiences were irrigating with my father. Our turn began at 2:00 A.M., so Dad and I would pitch a tent in the yard and go to bed about 9:00 at night. We would set the alarm clock and get up at 2:00 and turn the water in. Then we would get up every half hour until 6:00 to change its flow. During all my growing-up years, Dad and I spent many nights irrigating side by side. It’s a great experience to be with your father like that.
I also have some great memories of taking care of the family cow with my dad. We cleaned the barn, fed the cow, and got her into her stall. Then I held her tail while Dad milked. There is great discipline in having a cow. It has to be milked every morning and every night. It has to be milked in the summer, winter, spring, and fall. I didn’t particularly like the cow sometimes, especially when caring for it interfered with something I really wanted to do. But I developed a love for work and had some great conversations with Dad about baptism, priesthood ordinations, friends, and other important subjects while we were doing chores. I loved spending that time with my father. He is one of the men I most admire and respect.
Dad also taught his children at an early age to work for the Lord. I was six months old when he was called as the bishop, and he served as bishop for 18 years. He involved us in his work at church. I remember filling the stoker at the meetinghouse in the winter—shoveling snow too. Summers were spent cleaning the chapel ceilings and taking care of the yard.
When I was six or seven, Dad had me help my mother with some Church financial records. She would call out the numbers, and I would punch them in our old adding machine, pull the crank, and then proofread the figures back to her. I remember lugging that old machine back and forth between our home and the meetinghouse. In winter we hauled it on a sleigh; in the summer we used a wagon.
My father was not an emotional man. One of the few times I ever saw him shed tears was when he was released as bishop. He loved serving the Lord, and he helped develop in all his children a great satisfaction in helping other people. He made sure his Church calling involved our whole family and brought us together.
Because of his example, I developed a great appreciation for working and for serving the Lord. I love my father and am deeply grateful for him and for the many things he taught me through word and example.