Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Remembering My Farm Chores

Kids nowadays miss out on the kinds of experiences we had when we were kids. There was no child labor law, so kids worked right along with their parents. Kids drove tractors when they were ten years old. The tractor was operated with just a clutch; no accelerators. Most kids could hardly reach the clutch with their legs. One time I was plowing alone in the field. When I had to refill the gas tank on our McCormick Deering (like the one pictured above) the tank on top of the engine was so hot I was afraid if I spilled any gas, it might catch fire. It was so hot you could not lay your hand on it. I was not very old when I drove the tractor pulling the combine in wheat harvest. It was tricky to go through washout gullies and wet spots in the field that I had to maneuver around.

Another of my chores was turning the crank on the cream separator. If I turned it too fast, the cream would turn out too thick and too rich; if I turned it too slow, the cream was still part of the skim milk. The speed that I turned it had to be "Just Right".

Another farm experience was hauling feed shocks, pitchfork bundles overhead. Mice would fall out of those shocks and fall on us. I was always afraid they would fall down my shirt collar on the back of my neck or run up the pant leg of my bib overalls.

When we took eggs to town, they had to be candled. At home we had an incubator and hatched our own chicks. It was heated with kerosene. We kids would have to make frequent visits to check on the heat, then watch when the eggs got pecked as they hatched.

Kids miss out on a lot these days, don't they! Not to mention the home brew! All the farmers made beer.

As kids one of our chores was to stomp the cabbage in those earthenware crocks for sauerkraut. My mom always had the crocks full of cucumbers for making pickles. I remember the alum that was added to the brine. It would really pucker your tongue.

Speaking of tongue, yep I also had my tongue stick on the pump handle in the winter. That was something I did only ONCE! I learned my lesson. It's hard to cry when your tongue is stuck!

I remember having to break the ice in the stock tanks so the cattle and horses could drink. No tank heaters in those days!

Slopping the hogs was another chore. In a 30 gallon wooden barrel we poured the skim milk and added bran that we called "shorts" for the hogs.

Yes, those were the days memories are made of.

3 comments:

Les said...

I remember visiting "The Gradys" on our family summer vacation, they had a similar iron wheeled tractor, besides the team of horses. Describing the workings of the large farm kitchen will be a subject on my blog someday. I will always remember the creamer and the large butter churn and patting the butter into blocks. I bet you thought that no one would recognize those pictures.

Cheryle Hoover Davis said...

Ernie, you have me absolutely hooked on your blog! What great memories and the way you describe the workin's of a farm bring vivid images of those beautiful farms of yesteryear.

I lived on a farm as a young girl, and still have fond memories of that life. Wish I was still there!

Nikki-ann said...

Kids certainly do miss out on a lot these days, especially those in the cities.