Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life in the 1920's and 1930's: Our Food Supply

Note from Ernie's daughter, Becky Jamison: In 2007 Harold J. Rutherford published his book "Dust, Wind and Tears: Life on the Great Plains in the 1920's, 30's, and 40's". It's a collection of personal accounts from the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Ernie contributed his story to the book. It was published by Ten Mile Publishing, 9740 Peacock St., Federal Heights, CO 80260-5749. This post is an excerpt from Ernie's story.

 Our Food Supply
On our farm we raised corn, wheat, milo, cane and cattle. We milked eight cows by hand and that was a chore! We bucketed calves and separated the milk by hand. We made butter out of the cream for our own use and sold the rest of the cream in town and fed the skimmed milk, mixed with bran, to the calves. We made cottage cheese out of some of the soured milk and fed the curd to the chickens and hogs. Each spring we raised 200 baby chicks for fryers and kept 20-30 laying hens for the eggs. As we went to town each week to sell the cream, we also sold a lot of eggs. Our geese and turkeys helped keep the grasshoppers down. Every Fall we sold all the turkeys in town, but we raised the hogs for our own needs.

Fred Michaelis, one of my uncles, farmed north of Susank, Kansas. He had a smokehouse that was about the size of a one-car garage. It really impressed me as a small kid to see hams and other kinds of meat hanging in the smokehouse.

South of the livestock water tank and windmill was our garden. The overflow from the water tank and windmill. The overflow ran down towards the garden along a fence where rhubarb was growing. We grew radishes, lettuce and peas in the early spring before it became too hot. We also raised turnips, sugar beets, carrots, parsnips, red beets, cabbage and tomatoes. Along the ditch that ran alongside the garden, we raised watermelons, pumpkins, cantaloupe, cucumbers and squash. Close to the garden we planted sweet corn for our own use. 

Mom canned about everything, including apricots, corn, meat, pickled watermelon rinds and tomatoes. We pickled lots of the cucumbers and canned them in jars. Some vegetables were pulled and stored in the cellar. The cellar was half in and half out of the ground with dirt on top for the roof. It never froze in the cellar and never got very warm. Most of the winter we could go out to the garden and move the straw covering the carrots, parsnips, red beets, and turnips and have fresh vegetables.  
We stored watermelons in the wheat, milo, or maize in the granary. They'd stay good 'til Christmas! We always had a large pile of potatoes heaped up in one corner of the cellar. They lasted all winter, even with our family of 5. Mom made fine cut noodles and we always had lots of fruit jars filled with cream. Mom used cream in everything she cooked!

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