Sunday, March 26, 2023

Back To The Farm

 As I mentioned in the last post Grandpa loved his horses. Because we now lived in a mechanized age the horses did not have to pull plows or hard labor like that. Most of the time they were used to bring the cows back from the pasture for milking.

The horses were also for enjoyment. We learned to ride on the farm. Most of us grandchildren learned on Bird. Bird was unusual because she was known to be cantankerous. But she could tell when we were just children and she was gentle and patient with us.

Bird was born the same year as my mother so she was not young. Still she had the energy and sense of humor to play tricks on older riders. One of her favorites was to swell her stomach as the cinch was being tightened to hold the saddle securely. Once the rider was in the saddle Bird would breathe normally. Then on the way to the pasture she would purposely run under a low-hanging branch causing the rider to lean to the side to prevent being whomped in the face. The saddle would shift and the rider would end up on the ground. She only did this to experienced riders.

We loved it when we were allowed to bring in the cattle. It meant a long ride on the horse. We could also go faster than the pleasant stroll around the corrall.  What a great ride.

Someone owned an old Model A Ford car. If it were raining my uncles preferred taking the car to get the cows so they (my uncles) would not get all wet. If they were in the mood they would let us ride along. My Uncle Donnie was a bit of a daredevil and drove very fast.

One day we were coming in after driving the cars and Donnie was going too fast. We went around the corner on two wheels. Of course we loved it. Today I wonder how any of us made it to adulthood.

Behind the farmhouse was a windbreak of cedar trees. Cedar trees' lower branches are close to the ground. We would each choose a tree to make a house. It was even better than the manure pile.

In front of the house was a mulberry bush. Grandpa hated the mulberry trees that grew everywhere. When a mulberry tree grew in the yard he cut it down. Then to make sure it would not grow back he chopped the stump into a million pieces. As if that was not enough he covered it with lye to kill the roots. Eventually it grew back as a bush and gave us nice large juicy mulberries. 

There were mulberry trees all over the farm. We happily climbed the trees and picked as many as possible. We made whipped cream and covered the berries for a luscious treat.

There were other trees as well. My favorite was the black walnut tree at one corner of the dogleg that led to the pasture. We gathered them to use especially at Christmastime.

Grandpa had lots of farm equipment. We were not allowed to ride on any of it for safety reasons. We could play on some of it when it was not being used. We had some glorious imaginary races on the tractors.

Grandma was the best cook I knew. She used an old wood stove. Her water came from a pump outside. Every morning she baked fresh bread. If she made pancakes for breakfast she made her own syrup. I do not even like pancakes but I always hoped for leftovers so we could cover them in sugar and roll them like cigars. Great treat for the middle of the morning.

After milking was finished for the day all the pails were brought into the kitchen. The separator was made ready. Milk was poured into the separator. We watched with excitement as the cream was separated from the milk. If we were lucky we could catch a bit of cream on a slice of Grandma's bread. After spreading the cream evenly we sprinkled sugar over the top. It was the best treat ever.

Once again it is too long and I have so much more to tell. Until next time.


  1. Replies
    1. I have a good time remembering. Thank you for liking it.

  2. What a stinker Bird was! She sounds like a horse that was easy to admire and love.

  3. Dear Emma - I loved to watch when cows were milked, and still remember the few times I was allowed to help. The feeling, the smell, the swish.
    And one of my very first memories is seeing my grandma kneading cream to butter in a wooden sort of basin.

    1. My friend's mother had a bladed thing that fir into a gallon jar. We would pump that thing up and down to make butter. It was automation!

  4. Did you mean to say that she baked actual yeast-rising loaf bread everyday, and was that the only kind of bread she baked? As good as loaf bread can be, I would sure start hankering after biscuits, muffins, cornbreads, and crackers after a few days.

    I haven't seen a mulberry tree in decades, but I well remember their delicious taste and large mitten-like leaves (some left-handed, some right-handed, and some with the indentations on both sides). Even if your grandpa's mulberries were hard to kill, there's sure a lot to be said in their favor, and they I never knew of them propogating to the point of becoming a nuisance. I remember that the berries sometimes stayed on the tree so long that they would ferment, and birds would occasionally eat a few too many. Here's a story about the problems that drunk birds can cause:

  5. Yes Grandma made yeast bread every day. Grandpa liked that so that is what she made. Grandpa hated scraping bird droppings from tractor seats after the birds had been eating mulberries. Your link led to a funny story. Thank you.