Monday, September 18, 2017

How We Got a Farm

I heard a story.
The Old Farmer got a deal on the farmhouse.
He had a growing family. The proposed house was in disrepair. 
An old gentleman lived there. He had an old horse. 

An arrangement was made that the old gent
would continue to live upstairs
and the Old Farmer and his family would live
in the downstairs and renovate as time allowed.
He had his farm! 


It was a grand old farmhouse, 
made for entertaining.
With double doors between rooms
that could be opened to make a large space. 
The whole ground floor could be opened 
but for the back room,
which had the huge wood cookstove
 and washtubs 
and a swinging door.

The plaster was coming loose from 
the lathe in several places.
A couple times a large section fell
 and it was luck for no one to be
 under when it happened.
 The Old Farmer's wife,
expecting a child was under one 
such fall, and had moved aside just 
before catastrophe might have struck. 
Over the years new drywall was 
put up and walls were papered. 

The Old Farmer's Wife made her personal project
stripping the paint off the main staircase railing and posts.
It was a beautiful thing of black walnut when done. 
That project took several months.
I can still see her sitting there step after step, 
moving upward as she worked on each piece.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Wooly Caterpillars and other Signs

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.

Monday, September 4, 2017


It is Labor Day in America.
A day set aside to recognize the American Worker.
Traditionally a day off from work. 
A picnic day....

Here the average american goes about his day
interacting peacefully with coworkers, shopkeepers and neighbors.
Despite what the news would have you believe. 
These are the American People. 

Thank-you for reading my blog!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Unexpected company

Company was a part of life at The Old Farm
Neighbors might stop by to say hi. 
Strangers sometimes stopped to ask if they could
pick the daffodils that grew wild across the road. 
And sometimes relatives arrived unannounced.

Communication was not what it is now. 
Yes the Old Farmer had a phone.
But "long distance" cost $$$. 
And people used long distance pretty much only for emergencies. 
So you might get a postcard in the mail
that says we'll be there tomorrow for the weekend.
Or you might not, the cousins might just show up! 

Company was always welcomed with warmth.
Coffee? tea? Let us take your coats and bags....
The girls will sleep in together and you can have their room. 

And once in a while one of us girls would get invited
to go back from whence they came for a visit and sightseeing. 
And that would be an excuse for another visit
when The Old Farmer and the rest of the family
came to pick us up!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Family Reunion

Every August we had the big family reunion.
Most of the relatives lived within an easy drive.
It was held at the park on the lake.

This reunion wasn't a complicated affair.
Everyone knew to come that particular Sunday in August.
Everyone brought a dish to pass.
Everyone chipped in on the meats, sodas and beer.
Ice in big galvanized tubs.
The men grilled the hot dogs and hamburgers.
Drank beer and played horseshoes.
The children ran around and played tag...or jarts. 
The women sat and visited. 
Sounds kindof normal, doesn't it? 

But now families live so far from each other this is not so common.

The picnic was set up next to the big open area in the back of the park.

That field was for the big move up baseball game.
When the Old Farmer got up to bat everyone moved way way back.
He would put it the whole length of that field between the roads.
All the cousins yelled, uh oh, move back, move back, back to the road!

The town had amusement parks with nickelodeons and rides.
Some of the kids would sneak away to play before eating,
or after eating. Sometimes we forgot the time and got in trouble.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The BIG Eclipse

We are eagerly anticipating the great solar eclipse of 2017!
It is crossing the whole of mainland USA. 
Will it be clear? Will it be cloudy :  ( ?

This is a big event for children and should be a family event.
With at least one parent involved.
The children will remember it their whole lives!
I promise. 

I still rememeber a solar eclipse when I was young.
The Old Farmer and his brother were very excited
to share this event with me.

We were at Grandma's house in the garage.
The Old Farmer's brother was "smoking" glasses
to make them "safe" to view the eclipse.
Actually this technique is not recommended now! LOL
Another case of  "how did we survive the 50s" 

But the event came to pass, we all took turns looking
and it is a memory that will last forever. 

If planning to view this year 
please invest in eclipse safe glasses.
Or use a pinhole camera, quite effective. 
Put a pinhole in a
piece of paper and shine the sun 
through it onto another
smooth surface/paper. 
Adjust distance to focus.
You may want to practice
 this before the eclipse so you are ready! 

Here is a great page with time, location information.

Monday, August 7, 2017

ghosts in the house

The Old Farmer's house was a big old farmhouse.
The original part where the kitchen was was pre civil war.
A later huge addition was added in the late 1800s. 

 The original house was largely unrestored by the Old Farmer.
This is where his son slept. He had a big old bedroom
with low ceilings and low windows.
There was a door in the back going into a storage area
and the ladder to the attic space. (setting the mood)

As a child
this Old Farmer's Daughter 
often heard footsteps and creaking 
noises back there. 
When no one was home 
that should have been there. 
The back stairs were narrow 
and turned at the top.
There was an unfinished room at the top
with floorboards missing. 
And a small nook closet with no door
and an old racoon coat!

Another time when taking a bath 
someone made noises outside the bathroom window! 
I think I know the culprit altho at first 
I was a bit concerned.
That one we can chalk up to real people!

We learned to live with the noises of an old house
as nothing untoward ever happened. 

The spirits were benign...

Monday, July 31, 2017

Back Yard Camping

The dog days of summer,
it is hot. The house is hot.
The windows are open
to let in that elusive breeze.

So the youngsters want to camp out! 
Of course the times that live in your memory
are the ones that ended in disaster.

  This Old Farmer's Daughter recalls staying over with a friend
in the back yard. Our little tent was right up against the back of the house. 
In the middle of the night she woke me up and said someone
was prowling around outside our tent. 
We did not sleep well the rest of the night. 
Of course now looking back I am thinking it was her Dad checking on us.

Another upset was caused by a big canvas tent, 8 girls,
and a rainstorm! Can you guess where that is going? 
The young hostess was warning us, we'll be fine, just don't touch
the sides of tent or it will bleed! Well with 8 girls, air mattresses,
blankets, pillows, etc it wasn't long before we were floating in an inch of water!
We all ended up trooping into the living room in the middle of the night 
waking up the household in the process.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Living is Easy.....

...or not.
It is hot hot hot! 

 I remember The Old Farmer taking me out to the garden
after a heavy shower. It had been dry for several days.
He says "Do you think that rain helped the garden?"
Of course I did, it rained hard!
He reached down and flicked off the top of the soil

and only the top 1/8 or less was wet, the rest dry and powdery!

 The weeds are winning the garden wars and
The Old Farmer works overtime hoeing
in the evening and on his days off.
We all do. 

Sometimes on a hot summer evening
when working up a sweat
and we were all hot and tired
The Old Farmer would load us up
in the old Chevy and we would head around the corner

(a country corner of about 1 1/2 miles!)
to the ice cream stand.

We thought it was a treat for us, which it was,
but also that big milkshake
was a big treat for him too :   )

Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer Recreation Programs

What to do with these kids in the summertime!
The Old Farmer, and most of the rural folk, were active in the volunteer fire department.
Whenever the siren went off they all hopped in their cars 
and headed over to the fire department
to see where to go and get the trucks on the road. Day or night.

But this story is about the summer program for children.
Mothers would drop us off in the morning.
We would find our friends and get into the toy room.
This farmers daughter and her friend would get the pogo sticks 
and play on the front sidewalk.
Organized activities were braiding vinyl cord into whistle lanyards 
and making plaster bowls in stone parking lot, 
decorated with strategically placed stones.

Twice a week we got to go to the local swimming "lakes" or  ponds
to have swimming lessons and fun. We had to have a buddy for safety
and periodically the leader would blow a whistle and we had to hold hands
with our partner and hold them up. Hopefully there was never someone 
without a partner. Happy to say this never happened in my experience.

There also was a church program for two weeks in the summer. 
A long bus ride would deliver us to a centrally located church.
We got religious instruction and discussion. And mass. The older kids played ball.
The younger may have raced and played tag. And we juice and cookies. 
The Old Farmer's Daughters would enjoy sneaking off to the corner store
for a snack we would savor while sitting on a ledge on the front of the stone church.
We were bad   : 0

Monday, July 3, 2017

Fourth of July Doings

 How did we celebrate the Fourth of July?
Picnics and parades, family and fireworks. 

Childish delight at the city park,
laying on a blanket. 

As we grew older the delight was in our own explosives! 
Playing at home. Spinners hung from the trees.
Sparklers running around the yard. 

And strings of firecrackers going off.
Or set under a tuna fish can to see it pop up! 

And The Old Farmer's inner child would come out. M-80s were played with by the adult men in the family,
the children could watch.
The Old Farmer decided to see what would happen if he put one in the old metal paper box. 
POW! It blew it go smithereens. The back blew out and the seam split open. Oops!

And not to be outdone by the adults the cousins spent the afternoon throwing
the little firecrackers into a hollow in the tree. Several made a sucessful landing. 
Later that evening smoke was seen coming from this majestic old maple tree!
Hoses were brought and the water followed where the firecrackers had been.

 In the hollow and down the inside of the tree.
The tree survived this trauma and to my best guess is still living today. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Old Farmer's Daughter: The Poker Game

The Old Farmer's Daughter: The Poker Game: At the Old Farmer's house, once a month we had his in-laws over for dinner and the bi-weekly card (Poker :  ) game.  Every other two ...

The Poker Game

At the Old Farmer's house, once a month we had
his in-laws over for dinner and the bi-weekly card (Poker :  ) game.
 Every other two weeks we went to their house. 

Us cousins spent the afternoon playing.
It was out one day a week we had a treat, usually potato chips and dip.
Sometimes pretzels. Dip = sour cream and french onion soup mix.
When at the cousin's house, in the big city, we could walk to the corner
to get and ice cream. And our Aunt always made the best spaghetti.

The card game lasted late into the evening.
It was a serious battle for pennies.
When a diversion was called for Uncle would jostle
the table to shake over everyone's neat stacks of pennies. 
Everyone would boo and fuss at him! 
We young'uns would  lay upstairs in bed and listen to the fun.

At the end of the night all the pennies went into the
toy safes or tin boxes ready for the next game.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Bedtime Story


TV was not such a big part of life in the 50s.
Of course most homes had  ONE TV,
 ONE black and white TV.
And they had children to change the channels!

But storytime was very important at bedtime. 
The Old Farmer would sit between 
the two twin beds after we were all settled. 
He made up delightful stories 
about a little girl's adventures
for his little girls. 

One time he was going to read us a book, 
one chapter each night. 
I suppose the plan was that we would be eagerly looking forward to the rest of the story and go to bed without a fuss. 
I think the chosen story was 
Treasure Island.
I think I usually fell asleep 
before the end of each chapter. 

But the bedtime story taught us all the adventures
one might find between the pages of a book
and we all became voracious readers in our farm family. 

Good night Daddy.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Trilliums, Dogtooth Violets, and Jack in the Pulpits. Oh My!

   The Old Farmers Daughter,
               I loved roaming the fields and woods. 
                       The snow melting in the spring,
                                   running off into the pond or creek.
                                                     The new growth sprouting.   

 The front woods is where the sun set. 
Here was the tree with the "3 J's" carved on it. 
At the back of these woods was a small natural spring,
 a little beauty spot I liked to visit. 
There was a deadfall where the ermine lurked.
Squirrel were abundant.

 Jack in the Pulpits would be found.
Early in the spring you would find 
dogtooth violets snuggled up 
to the base of trees.

 The back woods were behind the swamp.
 There were huge old vines
and on the far side old barbed wire 
grown into the trees. 

    This is where the
trilliums flourished.
 Huge patches of giant trilliums.
 Mostly in white and a few purple mixed in. 

   There also were ironwood trees. 
The Old Farmer said they were so named for the obvious reason,
 they were like iron. You would be hard put to cut one down.

Of course I had to put this to the test. 
 I was quite handy with the hatchet
having cut down lots of small trees. 
So I tackled an  ironwood tree with optimism. 

   Which soon turned to a pessimistic attitude.

 The Old Farmer was right.
Why would I even question his wisdom! 
But, we learn through experience.

Monday, June 5, 2017


In the old days we used to have Strawberry Socials in the season.
     No that little fellow up there wasn't invited!

The Old Farmer's Wife had a strawberry patch. 
This was a business venture. The best berries
were sorted and boxed to sell. 
The Old Farmer's Daughters were recruited to help pick.
We also ate a LOT! 

The Strawberry Social would arrive at our Grandma's church.
Dressed in our Sunday best off we would go.
There was a lot of visiting and catching up among the adults.
The children waited for the Main Course.
Strawberries and Ice Cream! 

The season passes all too fast but a thrifty housewife
would have many berries put up in the freezer
and many jars of strawberry jam on the pantry shelves. 

For the new homemakers who wish to store good homegrown food out there, 
freezing berries is about the easiest thing.
Wash the berries (do this in small batches as they easily become waterlogged!),
 cut off the leaves, slice in halves or thinner slices, I like them thinner.
More surface exposed to sugar, more syrup forms and more delicious! 
Put in your freezer containers and sprinkle on a good amount of sugar! 
I eyeball it, but say a quart container or ziplock freezer bag about 1/2 cup.
More if the berries are tart. You don't have to use sugar, but quite honestly
they keep their color and flavor better with sugar. 

Frozen sugared berries are great for yogurt smoothies!

Monday, May 29, 2017

What is a Farmer?

What is a farmer....?

A commercial farmer is a business man.
A family farmer is a jack of all trades.

The Old Farmer was a mechanic.
   He had to keep the tractor running.
The Old Farmer was an electrician.
    Rewiring lamps and plugs.There was an electric fence 
   around the animal pens. A mild shock we used to play with. 
   But kept the animals inside.
The Old Farmer was a plumber.
   He fixed the water pump, he fixed leaks, he ran sewer lines.
The Old Farmer was a contractor.
   Repairs to the barns as necessary. Moving the shed. 
   Drywall and wallpapering.
   Fixing the double hung windows.
The Old Farmer practiced husbandry.
   He knew about farm animals. Breeding hogs, raising cows, 
   gelding piglets (some things don't oblige description! )
The Old Farmer was a hunter.
   He knew where the deer were, how to run a rabbit, 
   shoot a pheasant on the fly.
And of course The Old Farmer was a farmer!
   We had the family garden. He grew winter wheat 
   and corn and hay.
The Old Farmer was an accountant.
   He kept the records and filed the taxes.
The Old Farmer was a volunteer.
   A volunteer fireman. A volunteer at the church. 
   A good neighbor.
The Old Farmer was first and foremost a father.
   He hung the tree swing. Built a sand box. Taught the children
   his skills. The man in the moon. The cut worm. 
   Corn should be knee high by the fourth of July,
   Using tools. We tagged around after him learning 
   all these things and more.

In short a "farmer" took care of businss. No excuses.


 Remember our Warriors

With Gratitude

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Old Road is Widened

The time came when the old crumbly one lane road was to be widened.
To a two lane road with no lines, but wide shoulders and ditches. 
This was BIG.

I think I mentioned in a previous blog how the pond came to be.
The state road people needed some fill for the new road
and asked The Old Farmer for it. Win Win!

Along the road in front of the orchard was a row
of old rough looking pines. They were taken out.
The Old Farmer's children went exploring along the destruction
and found a nest of baby owls had been upset from a hollow tree.

We were sorry for them.
But it was farm life, in those days nature fended for itself.
I was a young toddler so did not have the say to try and rescue them. 
Perhaps the mother herded them to a safe place....
That is the end of that sad story.