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

A STRAWBERRY SOCIAL



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.

MEMORIAL DAY




 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






Toughest
whiskers
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!