Thursday, July 17, 2008

More about Life on the Farm


Life on the farm settled into a routine, as most lives do, when there is repetition of duties, and chores. In February of 1948, we learned what setting out a tobacco bed was like. The ground had to be prepared. Then there was the sowing of millions of tiny, tiny seeds. The plot was surrounded by what looked like small round logs, and then covered with a thin cloth called canvas. It was cold -cold- cold in the biting wind, but it had to be done.

It was in February just after we had moved to New Market, when one Sunday afternoon we got word that my dad's mother had passed away that morning in her sleep. One of dad's brothers came out to the farm to tell us. So we had to make the trip in to Knoxville to attend the wake (which was held in her home, with the casket in her living room) and then for the funeral. The picture here is of her. I will soon do a post on just her.

I entertained the kids that were there by telling them silly stories, which I made up on the spot. It also entertained one of my dad's sisters who was sometimes not quite right mentally, so she was easily entertained. I think it was then that I discovered my penchant for telling stories.

Life on the farm could be fun as well as difficult. My sister, Margaret, and I would often sing together while doing the chore of dishwashing. Since we had no sink inside the house, we had to do dishes in dishpans. We had to heat the water on the cook stove in the kitchen, and then we stood at the kitchen table to wash and rinse and dry the dishes. I absolutely hated doing the dishes, and about the time she got them washed and put in the other pan, I would have to run down to the outhouse, and hope that they would be done by the time I got back. Sometimes, she took pity on me, and finished them. Sometimes, she did not. Oh, well, I thought, at least I tried.

We would sing songs like, "Bringing in the Sheaves" and "Old Black Joe" and "Heavenly Sunshine", "Kneel at the Cross".

When we first moved out here, there were several outbuildings. One of them was a "potato house" which was just a lean-to-shed where potatoes had been stored to keep through the winter. We found lots of small sweet potatoes, which were actually not much bigger around than a couple of fingers wide, but we washed and baked them, and since we were hungry, they were just absolutely delicious.

We bought a hog to raise, and fed it what we called "slop" which was just left over stuff from our table with liquid added. We had a pig lot close to the barn, where we kept the pig. The next winter, we killed the hog, and with the help of neighbors, we cleaned (I say "we" but I had nothing to do with the actual killing or cleaning of it) the hog, and my mom and sister fried up the sausage made from it, and canned it. Yum... it was good...but probably all that good sausage we had to eat may have had something to do with the fact that five of the six of the children wound up with heart trouble in our older days.

My mom and dad prepared the hams and shoulders with brown sugar, and salt and cured them so that we would have meat later on. We also cooked the liver and that is another meat that I dearly love. Any kind of liver is wonderfully tasty.

We ordered baby chicks through the farm bureau and when they came, we had to keep them warm in the house until they were old enough to live without freezing. They only have down, no feathers, when they are little. The sound of "peep, peep" could be heard all night coming from the kitchen where we had to keep a fire in the cookstove to keep them warm.

Our house only had 3 regular size rooms (even at that they were small). In the room at the end near the road, we had two iron bedsteads, and Margaret and I slept in one, John and Hugh slept in the other one, and in the living room where we had a fireplace is where Mom and Dad's iron bedstead was. The kitchen was cold all winter after supper, when the fire was allowed to go out.

There was a side room that was on the front of the house, and in the summer time, John slept out there. Our bedroom was so cold, that it took a lot of quilts on it to keep us warm, and I like to tell that we had so many on it, that we had to get out of bed in order to turn over. ha. There was a crack under neath the door so that when it snowed, we would wake up and see where snow had come into the bedroom.

Well, that is enough for today. Maybe more tomorrow. I am just getting started good, telling about life on the farm, but I don't want to bore any one. May God bless each of you and give you a good night's rest. This is Blabbin' Grammy signing off for now.


Judy said...

Hi Grammy, I know all about tobacco being from Kentucky. My dad used to raise the plants and set it by hand on our little place. I would drop the plants. We had those baby chicks, too. I love looking at your old pictures. We used to grow lettuce down the sides of the plant beds. TN said...

Hi Grammy, I love hearing about your farm life. It brings back a lot of memories for me. I still think you should do the poem from Judy's blog..."Where I'm from"