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.