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.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Old Advertising

 Old advertising was always entertainment when on a road trip.
The best were the Burma Shave signs. They came in a series of five or six
little signs, five or six little blurbs that told a story. 

 On the drive to visit family in neighboring town there was a row of these signs.
Everytime we drove by them The Old Farmer says look at these signs,
what do they say!~ And we would try to read them everytime.
Here is a selection of ones I found funny.

We Don't
  know how
to Split an Atom
But as to whiskers
let us atem
Burma Shave

The Wolf
is shaved
So neat and trim
Red Riding
is chasing him!
Burma Shave


If Harmony
is what
you crave
 get a tuba
burma shave

in the town
we hold them up
you mow them down
Burma Shave

 Said Farmer Brown
who's bald
on top
I wish I could
rotate the crop
Burma Shave

Monday, May 8, 2017

Raising Pheasants

Spring projects are in the air.
The Old Farmer's children were all active in 4-H.
One spring project, in conjunction with the game department, 
was raising pheasant chicks to replenish the fields for fall hunters. 
Hunting was and still is a big part of farm/country life.


There was an old building 
on the farm,
 about 10x10 feet square.
It had been a smokehouse back 
in the days they would
preserve meat for the family. 
Smoke would be channeled
into the building from 
an outside source 
and infuse the fresh ham 
and bacon with smoky flavor 
and preserve them. 

 The inside of this building was remembered as being quite black and sooty.
The Old Farmer and wife tried several uses for it over the years.
It was thought it would be a good playhouse for the Old Farmer's children.
This did not work to well as they (the children) came out sooty :  ) 
At one time rabbits were kept in it. 
When the pheasant project came along The Old Farmer moved
the building away from the yard, built a fenced area behind, and 
the interior was whitewashed. 

The big day finally arrived and a box with 30-50 baby chicks arrived, days old.
At that age they were kept in a small enclosed circle with a heat lamp above. 
As they grew the area was enlarged until they were old enough to go outside. 
As they neared 6 weeks of age plans were made to release them into the wild. 

This involved catching them, putting them into a portable chicken coop, 
and driving out into a field to release. This was usually supervised by a game warden.
One year it was thought we could release them at the pen area which backed up
to an old orchard that was quite overgrown. Unfortunately they stayed close
"to home" and many met unfortunate ends at the hands of local cats and dogs. 
This release method was not repeated.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Spring Time on the Farm

Spring is the time of new growth and new life.

Springtime on the farm - that usually looks like a new vegetable garden, 
uncovering the perennial flower gardens, and litters of puppies and kittens, 
mostly kittens!  With one ‘official’ house cat (an outdoor cat with indoor privileges) 
and many barn cats, kittens were guaranteed.  

(An unintended double exposure that turned out well, the cat with
house privileges is in the middle)

Always the kitten litters were lovingly placed into an old cardboard box 
padded with clean rags.  Then the mothers could jump in 
 and out with the kittens safe in the box. 
 And sometimes there was sharing as the mother and kittens 
and an adoptive mother were all in one box! 
 Occasionally the barn cats found a spot so deeply buried 
in the stacked straw bales they we didn't see the kittens 
until they were old enough to be running around.  

 There was one time when the ‘official’ house cat came up to the door 
 from being outside, wanting to come in the house carrying a mouse in her mouth.  
Of course that was not allowed.  As the cat became more insistent and frantic, 
we could see it was not a mouse but a newborn kitten!  
So immediately a box was prepared and the kitten put in.  
Then the mother led us to the rest of the litter in a dark corner in the basement 
of one of the barns.  She couldn't rest until all her kittens were safely ensconced
 in the box in the house.  Then she was happy.

By Guest Blogger today, with thanks to the other Old Farmer's Daughter

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Land

Western New York was a wilderness by white man terms post revolutionary war.
After the war families started moving west. 
Which route west did they take?
Would they take the Great Western Turnpike,
which ran from Albany to Ithaca and Bath?
Or was it the Hudson-Mohawk
and Seneca Turnpikes to Canadaigua, then to Buffalo?
Whichever route the family had to take, it was  through a forested wilderness.

The Old Farmer's land had old wells and dumps
and old barbed wire grown into trees of the back woods.
I remember being told to be careful where there was
an old well with rotten wood beams covering it.
Remnants of a stone wall ran through the woods.
At the backside of the woods was a dump site.
I went rumaging around there one time and found this treasure! 
A cherry tree flask in good condition is quite valuable and a good find.
Unfortunately this one was half a cherry tree flask,
but a half that left the face design largely intact.
really pretty amazing to think of it laying out in the woods like that.

In the front corner of the north forty,
overgrown in the brush edging the field was a huge old log
roller that appeared designed to be dragged by horses?
It may have been two feet in diameter and well on its
way to rotting away. I wonder what its function was?   

In the spring there were beautiful waves of Great Trilliums.
Most were snowy white, every now and then there was a red one. 
We would gather armfuls to take home to The Old Farmer's Wife.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Family Character

I remember Aunt Garnet...
I was very young. 

Aunt Garnet was known as a character.
I wish I had been older and knew her better.
One day an old MG Midget drove into the driveway
and out climbs a older woman of good girth.
And her adult mid aged son. 

There was no announcement of their impending visit.
They drove from Pontiac Michigan on the spur of the minute.
I guess the son told her to hop in the car, they were going for a drive.
I guess he was a character too. 
Going through Canada it was about about a 5 hour drive.
Aunt Garnet had no luggage, no extra clothes, no under garments extra!
The Old Farmer's Wife drove into town with me to buy a few necessities for her.
I had never seen undies like those before!

And one day they were just gone again...

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring Is Just Around The Corner

Well, maybe spring is here and after last weeks post
about planting by the signs it seems a good time to
segue into how The Old Farmer planted his garden.

The old garden had been plowed under in the fall.
So come the spring it is plowed again to loosen up the soil,
disced the break it up and dragged to get out grass.

You had to wait until it wasn't too wet for these processes
or the soil would just clump and get hard.
You would take a handful of soil and squeeze it, if too wet
it formed a tight clump. if just right it was damp but broke up.
Dragging to get out the grass would help minimize how much would grow
competing with your garden (and having to hoe hoe hoe)

 The garden was laid out in neat rows using a long line.
The Old Farmer would hoe a trench along the line,
We would follow setting the seeds or plants
and he would follow and fill it back in.
He starting the rows with the shortest plants and going
to the tallest, which would be at the north end of the garden.
This was the corn so it would not shade whatever was next to it
and so on.

I think this fellow played in the plantain too long. He is all tuckered out!   

Monday, April 3, 2017

Planting by the Signs

I am another farm blog today as I enjoyed it so much!
I can hear her shaky voice like it was yesterday,
 “You need to get your taters in the ground tomorrow, ’cause the signs is right’.”

The last “Granny Woman” of our family, my ‘Mamaw’ served 
as a wealth of knowledge for most everything we encountered 
in our West Virginia community, and in the springtime, folks from all over the holler 
would seek her advice regarding when to plant their gardens.  
She was a firm believer in “planting by the signs”.

Described as devilish by some and extolled by others; 
I never truly understood what any of it meant until long after she was gone,
 but as I age, I find myself becoming more and more fascinated 
by the complex astrological system she relied upon for the better part of a century.

Today, most everyone who plants a garden does so as a mere hobby 
or at the very most in an effort to supplement their grocery store purchases; 
however, 150 years ago, a successful garden was often the difference 
between surviving the winter and starving to death.

As a result, the folks “back in the day” took a far more serious approach to planting 
and the moon’s phases helped to serve as a guide to improve 
their chances of a successful garden.
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide 
the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, 
and for days, and years… 
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, 
and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.” — Genesis 1.14, 16

In its simplest of forms, “planting by the signs” means that you plant crops 
that will produce their fruits above the ground during the waxing moon 
(the time between a new moon and a full moon — when the moon is getting bigger), 
while plants that produce their crop below the ground must be planted during 
a waning moon (the time between a full moon and a new moon — when the moon is shrinking).

Lori Elliott, writes, “Many old-time farmers also planted and harvested 
by the astrological signs. Barren signs, such as Aquarius, Gemini, and Leo, 
would have been considered ideal times for plowing and cultivating the soil, 
while fertile signs such as Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces would have been considered 
the best times for planting seeds.”

Old timers lived by these signs for centuries, but the one question remains: 
is there any science to back up their traditions?  And that’s the million dollar question!

25 years ago, the New York Times set out to determine if planting by the full moon 
was a bright idea or lunacy; unfortunately, they were not able to reach any definitive conclusion.

Scientists at NASA stated that planting by the moon was pure “mythology” 
and nothing more; however, Dr. Mac Cathey Ph.D. in plant physiology, 
told the Times that his grandmother gardened by the signs in North Carolina. 
“And she was a tremendous gardener… 
But all our high-germinating seeds and pesticides have damped out our ability
 to read the signs…  It’s like music. We can’t sight-read anymore.”

Regardless of whether you’re a believer or not, chances are the folks
in your family tree religiously planted by the signs only a few generations ago.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Taxes and the Farm Gas Pump

I remember The Old Farmer requisitioning the dining room table 
for several days each tax season.
Working a trade and being a farmer was no doubt complicated, 
what with the government paying you not to grow wheat and figuring the acres 
and yield and costs involved and the gas for the tractor...

Gas, now that was interesting...there was an old gravity fed tank 
at the back of the driveway circle. You would crank it up 'til it stopped 
and then reverse the direction and let it flow down, each cycle was one gallon of gas. 
The Old  Farmer kept a log of how much gas he pumped every time 
in a Half & Half tobacco tin kept under the tank.
 Of course I didn't know it then, but I suppose that had something to do with taxes.

Evenings when figuring taxes were frustrating The Old Farmer
 and there were occassional exclaimations, we were warned to play quietly 
and especially not to bother "anyone" with questions. LoL. 

I guess some things never change!

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Old Farmer's Wife has a Green Thumb

The Old Farmer's Wife had a green thumb.

 While The Old Farmer grew the vegetables and she canned them,
her real domain was the flower garden.
And in keeping with the season today I look at the indoor plants. 
African violets were in a room with westward facing window
and they thrived. Watered from the bottom when the top
felt dry to fingertip...

In the bay window was a large old snake plant,
impolitely mother in law's tongue
or ie sansevieria trifasciata.
These do not bloom often, I remember her's blooming.

  And the Christmas cactus, 
still living many years later.
Here it serves as a nice backdrop 
for this hat advertisement.
The trick to making these bloom
is 12 hours of daylight
and 12 hours of dark in the months
before Christmas.
And there is a peek at the
mother in law's tongue in
the background too!