The Old Farmer's Daughter has little tidbits of useful knowledge from the old days worked into stories of life on the farm, Growing up on a family farm, farming and housekeeping in the 1950s, Barns farms and the farmhouse, try to post new story every Monday....
for a cookout. The old fashioned way. None of these civilized picnics with the grill and charcoal stuff.
We trekked through the snow to the field at the far side of the garden
from the farmhouse. There The Old Farmer lit a wood fire
and got it going good. We picked up any sticks and limbs we
found around to help stoke it.
When there was a good bed of coals he put foil wrapped potatoes
deep back under them, pushing with a stick. Then we had to wait, and wait, "how much longer!"
Sitting in the snow around the fire we shivered and chatted for an hour,
until the taters would be ready.
When the Old Farmer deemed it had been long enough he raked the foil packages out with another stick, digging until he found them all. Hot potato, hot potato! Tossing from hand to hand to unwrap them hot potatoes
which were charred on the outside and did not look to appetizing!
Ah, but inside they were light and fluffy and so good to have something hot to eat on that cold day outside.
The Old Farmer's Daughter would like to say how much I enjoyed
the past couple weeks on her school's facebook page.
We have been remembering our small town and the stores on Main Street It was fun to remember many and learn of some I didn't remember.
So there came a time when The Old Farmer
and The Old Farmer's Wife decided I was old enough
to go Christmas shopping by myself!
I was dropped off at the corner of Main Street just above the bridge (widest bridge in the world! at that time).
The street was decorated for the holidays.
My heart was pounding with excitement!
With some trepidation I set off up the street.
I had $10.00 and 5 gifts to buy.
First stop the menswear store to get a tie for The Old Farmer. Second stop the 5 and dime. Evening in Paris gift set for The Old Farmer's wife. Then some gifts for the brother and sisters. Life saver's gift book? Pez? A dollar went a long ways then!
All to soon the adventure over and I waited on the corner
for The Old Farmer's Wife to pick me up.
Are all those celebrating ready for Christmas? What are you doing for the holidays?
And the Old Farmer loved her so he promised to go to church with her and raise the children as catholics too.
The Old Farmer and his wife were active community members
and both belonged to the church societies. The men of the church belonged to the Holy Name Society. And the women had the Rosary Altar Society.
The men did the barbecuing at the yearly church dinner. And helped run the lawn fete. This involved building booths and running the games, there were darts and balloons, with one small balloon in the middle for a bigger prize. And the venerable ping pong ball in the goldfish bowls. Pounding in a nail with hammer, can you do it in one blow!?
The women cooked and served family style at the church dinner. They had a rotation for cleaning the church and bringing flowers in.
My funny memory of the ladies was the teas at our house. One older lady was something of a diviner.
I may have mentioned the Old Farmer's Wife had a teacup collection and when she held the tea was proud to use these. (No? well we will get to it!~)
She went out to buy loose leaf tea special. And the diviner would read the tea leaves. This always struck me as incongruous. But it was "just for fun".
The Old Farm was truely an old farm. It appeared to be a prosperous farm in the 1800s. The house was expanded in Victorian times from
its original farmhouse.
There were old orchards; pear and apple. A quince tree, vineyard, and black raspberries gone wild. Walnut trees and a patch of elderberry bushes.
Elderberries (Sambucus) were/are used medicinally by many.
The berries are black or very dark blue and have a sharp, sweet flavor
that makes them highly preferred for desserts, syrups, jams, jellies.
They are full of minerals, antioxidands, and vitamins.
For many years an old couple would come by in the right season
and ask to pick some berries. Of course permission was given. That was the way in the country.
A couple months later a bottle of elderberry wine would appear!
ELDERBERRY JELLY (From Kraft Foods page)
3-4 lbs ripe elderberries
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 packet sure jell
4 1/2 cups gran sugar
1/4 tsp butter
berries in a large pot and crush with a potato masher to release
of the juices. Turn the heat to medium and continue to crush
mixture heats up to a boil. Once the berries and their juices reach a boil,
reduce the heat to
low and let the berries simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Slowly transfer the mashed berries and juice over the sieve (or 4 layers cheesecloth)
to strain the juice into the pot. Let strain for an hour.
You will need 3 cups of juice to make one batch of jelly if using MCP pectin,
3 3/4 cups of juice if using SureJell pectin
Place 3 cups (or 3 3/4 cups depending on your brand of pectin) of juice
into a large,
high sided, wide pot (8-quart). Add the lemon juice and
Bring to a boil on high heat.
Add sugar and butter. Stir with a wooden
Bring to a boil again. Watch the pot as the mixture will foam up
You may need to lower the heat a bit to keep the foam from
boiling over the pot. Add sugar and butter. Stir with a wooden
Bring to a boil again. Watch the pot as the mixture will foam up
considerably. You may need to lower the heat a bit to keep the foam from
boiling over the pot. Boil exactly 1 minute, ladle into jars and seal in a hot water bath, 5 minutes.
The spiders are weaving the webs around the front door.
I think the season calls for leaving the webs through the end of the month.
Why you ask? Its soon to be All Hallows Eve!
My mind wanders back to Halloween on the farm.
We always carved the pumpkins and roasted the seeds.
The Old Farmer would get the pumpkins started by cutting out a round lid with a notch to fit it in place. And carefully
held the knife on an angle inwards so the lid was beveled to fit and would not fall in!
The pumpkins went out at sunset with a candle inside. Then there was the year The Old Farmer made a pumpkin man to sit in a chair out by the road. He stuffed an old pair of overalls with straw and put him in an old pair of boots. And he had a spooky pumpkin head.
Something dark and scary happened overnight and in the morning his parts were scattered to all corners.
Are the leaves blowing in the wind?
Is there a chill in the air?
On the Old Farm there was a front woods
and a back woods.
There were beech trees and ash trees and oaks and maples.
There was a chestnut tree. And english walnuts.
The Old Farmer's children as children all over the world
would collect the prettiest fall leaves they could find.
Beech leaves were yellow.
Maples were red and golden.
We would bring our samples home and the Old Farmer's Wife
would iron them between sheets of wax paper to preserve them.
Then off to school for show and tell.
And oh the bounty of walnuts.
We would collect a basket full and spend
an evening in front of tv cracking shells and separating
the nuts into a bowl.
These would make wonderful coffee cakes in the coming months.
This recipe is an easy quick coffee cake we learned in 4-H.
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortning
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
Grease bottom of 8" x 8" x 2" baking pan.
Sift and measure flour. sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
And shortening and cut in with pastry blender or fork.
Add beaten egg and milk. Spread in greased pan.
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Mix topping ingredients and sprinkle over cake mixture.
You want it on chunky so it sinks and and forms pockets of deliciousness.
If spread evenly and thin it will not work.
Bake at 350' for 30-35 minutes, serve hot!
The printing trade was learned through a series of steps. You started as an apprentice, running and toting for
the master printer. When you had learned all the ins and outs
of the materials and how they were used you moved up to Journeyman. Then maybe you assisted in loading the ink and paper rolls. learning to run the presses.
There was a lot more to this than you might think. You had to get the ink flowing evenly. To do it right you ran a test page checked it and adjusted as necessary. If you just ran it and waited for it to get flowing as it went you may have wasted a lot of ink and paper in the process.
And learning to use colors! The Old Farmer was a Master Printer.
Well the point of this story from the Old Farmer's Daughter's point of view was how he always made time to play a game
with me before heading off to shift work in the afternoon, or when getting home after a night shift before going to bed for the day.
It was often chinese checkers. Or cards. We played war where when two cards you each put down matched...
the first person to shout war could confiscate all the cards down on the table. The first person to run out of cards lost.
And our personal family game, Jud. Named with a shortened family members name. This was an abbreviated game of rummy with just 4 cards instead of 7 and you made your sets of 3 or runs.
I hope all children can have these fun memories of their fathers. They seem like little things but are big to the children.
Summer is winding down. We are starting to watch for the geese to be flying south for the winter. We check the Wooly Bear Caterpillars to see how large the band is, are they more brown or more black, will this tell
us how bad winter will be?
What other signs did we look for on the farm? Most seem to foretell rainy weather.
The Old Farmer's Wife liked this one... Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky in morning, sailors take warning.
Then does it follow that rain before 7 clear by 11.
Or a ring around the moon means rain soon.
One time The Old Farmer killed a large snake in the yard. He threw it over the fence saying it would bring rain. I don't remember if it worked ?
He also taught us that if the cows lay down in the field rain was on the way. And if the tree leaves flip over on a particular tree in the back yard, I think it was a basswood. so that the light undersides were showing rain is soon to come.
Or if all the insects and birds go silent, something is up. A storm on the way or a predator may be in the area. (of course you might be the predator in question!) If you stay still awhile and they start up again you were the problem. But if they stay silent something is amiss. Now crows will sound an alarm if there is danger. Crows are very smart.