|June 2009||Page 1 Of 1|| |
|The Chores Can't Wait! - Pt. III|
Posted On 2009-06-23 , 12:57 AM
The chores came first!
Spending summer vacations in the country for us kids wasn't all "running through the cool grass or the raindrops when it rained." We had chores to do, too. They came first. The cows HAD to be milked twice a day. The animals HAD to be fed.
First: We helped the grown-ups tend to and feed the animals:
- hay for the horses,
- mash for the cows,
- slop for the pigs and
- dried cracked corn for the chickens who ran free in the barnyard
We gathered eggs from the henhouse
The cats and dogs got leftovers from the table - probably because there was no refrigeration as we know it today.
We had a real ice box that held a big block of ice to keep food cold (cool would be more like it). It was used mostly to keep crocks of fresh milk and prepared foods cool until meal time. We made our own butter, taking turns churning it. I ate the butter, but couldn't bring myself to drink that fresh milk. And I never learned to milk a cow; tried … couldn't get the hang of it. (No pun intended. I'll just stop there with that train of thought. ^.^)
Second: We tended to the gardening
Chores also meant weeding or picking fruits and vegetables as they came in season. We hated weeding. We didn't mind picking strawberries until our backs got tired. Blackberries were a stand-up chore. We gathered the fallen peaches and early apples and picked the ripening ones from the trees. The grown-ups made the pies (must have been about 10 of them) for the week and kept them in the cool parlor on a table covered with a linen cloth.
We grabbed grapes from the vines as we ran by and ate tomatoes fresh off the vine without washing them (we rubbed the dust off on our clothes) … hoping we wouldn't get caught eating the pickings or soiling our clothes.
After the chores were done, we could play.
In Part IV we'll tackle the process of canning, pickling, and smoking (meat, that is).
|Playtime On A Farm - Pt. II|
Posted On 2009-06-15 , 4:51 PM
Free-style Playtime... and loving it!
Playtime meant hiding in the hayloft, seeing who could jump from the highest rung of the ladder, swinging from the big oak tree in the front yard, swimming in a creek after crossing a field with that ornery bull in it. (I used to have nightmares of that bull chasing me, but always woke up before he caught me.) The horses were "working" horses not riding horses. We'd chase the chickens and tease the pigs just to hear them squeal until we got caught doing it.
We used to play farm … really! The boys would make the toys from leftover wood scraps – the house, barn, sheds, tractors, fences, trucks, and animals. (While the boys were making the toys, the girls were helping in the kitchen.) When all was ready, we'd go to the shade of the cigar tree and scrape out an area in the ground to plot out the farm – making changes as we went along.
The big events were the holidays (4th of July), when we had company, or when neighbors came to help with a harvest (although we were already back in school at harvest time). There was a huge spread of food including smoked or canned meats.
The biggest treat for us was making our own ice cream. Have you ever had vanilla ice cream with grape nuts in it? Yum. Just as the cream mixture begins to harden add one cup of grape nuts to each gallon of creamy mixture (if you do it too soon the grape nuts soften). Finish the churning to mix, harden, and then serve.
While it was still light we'd have a watermelon seed spittin' contest. As it got dark we'd punch holes in the lids of old jars and catch lightning bugs (aka fireflies) and let them go when we got tired of that game.
Then we'd lie on the cool grass and look for the Big and Little Dipper among the stars. Sometimes we'd just sit on the porch swing and talk about tomorrow. Playtime on a farm in those days was free-style - sort of like recess used to be in schools. Playtime was not structured as it is today with league sports and online games. We made up our own games and rules and had fun doing it.
But it wasn't all feast and fun. The chores always came first. That'll be the next blog entry - slopping the pigs, milking the cows, and more.
|A Kid's Summer On A Farm - Pt. I|
Posted On 2009-06-13 , 11:35 PM
The Simple Life
I remember with such fond memories when my sister and I were little kids and we spent the summers on a farm during summer vacations in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia … windows wide open, curtains blowing in the breeze, screen doors banging, flypaper hanging over the dining room table, and the utensils upright in a pewter pitcher on the table - handy so you could take what you needed for the meal. There was no air-conditioning in those days, only roll-up blinds pulled down in the parlor to keep it cool in case company came to visit.
We all slept on feather beds - kids, parents and grand-parents. There was
electricity – a bulb in the ceiling of each room; oil lamps if you wanted to read. There was no indoor plumbing so you can guess what was under the bed. If nature called in a "big" way, that kid had to empty the jar in the morning. As kids, the "outdoor plumbing" was a novelty. A bench with two holes (known as a "two holer") and a sears catalog draped over a wooden bar. Is this too much detail? ^.^
We (and the other kids) ran barefoot on the cool green grass and sought relief in it from the rocks and stones we walked on. After the bottoms of our feet toughened up, there was practically nothing that could stop us. Yes, there were occasional cuts and nail punctures sometimes requiring a trip to see the town doctor; however, I don't remember him ever having to come to the house to give us treatment of any kind. There were many home remedies.
We had our Saturday evening bath in the huge tin laundry tub and rinsed our hair with the help of a pitcher similar to what Robert Redford did for Meryl Streep in the movie Out of Africa (only we were way too young for any romantic ideas, but the water still felt good pouring through our hair).
We caught run-off rainwater from the roof in a barrel and the cistern. [Did I just read that collecting rainwater is against the law somewhere in the U.S.?] There was a hand pump outside with a dipper in a bucket (just like you see in old Westerns). It was there for the taking if you needed a drink of water. We all drank from the same dipper and poured any remainding water in the dipper over our heads to cool off.
Now that I've laid the groundwork and set the scene, the next entry will be about kids summer playtime in the country.
|June 2009||Page 1 Of 1|| |