Saturday, April 1, 2023

Memories Of The Farm

I told you before about milking the cows. Grandpa sold most of the milk to a large company. Therefore everything surrounding the process had to be completely clean. Often we would be given a scrub brush and cleaning solution and the hose to scrub the buckets. Besides cleaning the buckets we could not leave any trace of milk in the seams. It was hard work.

One day I had been teasing one of my uncles mercilessly. I had several aunts and uncles who were not much older than me. Anyway I was in the kitchen with the buckets of milk. Mu ncle came through the door with steam coming out of his ears. He was looking for me.

I saw how angry he was so I began backing slowly away from him. He kept advancing in a menacing way. As I backed up I suddenly felt a milk bucket with the back of my legs. Too late! I sat right into the bucket that was full of milk.

Grandpa was furious. It is the only time I remember him being mad at me. I was banished from the kitchen for the day. The milk went to the hogs.

Grandpa had in his younger days been a cowboy. Yes. A real life cowboy. They lived on the range taking care of the cattle in Montana. On occasion he would have the opportunity to ride his horse to town. It was a three day round trip. He stopped at the Indian (that's what they were called then.) camp. They would feed him. Then he would get back on his horse and continue on his way.

Late one night he was riding his horse. He saw two glowing eyes ahead. He pulled out his rifle and shot. He killed a bobcat that was waiting to attack. When he could he had that thing stuffed. I was terrified of that thing.

Grandpa played all sorts of stringed instruments... guitar, banjo, and fiddle among them. Grandma played the piano. They used to play for barn dances. When Grandpa's arthritis crippled his fingers they stopped playing.

Grandma had her stories too. Once when Grandpa had gone to town she awoke in the middle of the night to commotion in the barnyard. A coyote was trying to catch its meal. Grandma grabbed the shotgun and rushed out. She had never shot a gun before and a shotgun has a powerful backlash. She held the gun out in front of her and pulled both triggers. It kicked back and hit her in the mouth knocking out her two top teeth.

There was a cow with a gas problem. She always told me the cow could not belch. My youngest sister says the other end was the problem. Grandpa knew like most old farmers where to stick in his pocketknife to release the pocket of air and give the cow some relief. Grandpa had gone to town.

Grandma could not stand hearing the cow bawling in pain anymore. Even if she knew how to stick the cow she did not have the strength. She took a pitchfork handle and shoved it into the end that had the problem. The air was expelled! My mother said the whole farm stunk for days.

It was great fun to have Sunday dinner outside at the picnic table. Grandma would fry chickens and we would have all the 'fixins".  When aunts, uncles, and cousins came it was even more fun.

 One summer my aunt and her family came to visit from West Virginia. Those are the only cousins my age. I was about six months old as was one of my cousins. We were both teething so we were each given a dill pickle to chew on. We loved them and ate a whole quart of them.

On Easter the Easter Bunny left us baskets of candy and hid the eggs we had colored at home. After we collected all of them and had breakfast we loaded the car and went to the farm. Another aunt lived fairly close so her family came to the farm too. They brought their eggs and of course Grandma had a bunch. We would re-hide them and hunt for them all day.

On rainy days we went to the attic. At the top of the stairs sat that atrocious bobcat. If it was Easter and we were hiding eggs someone always put one in the bobcat's mouth.

The attic was a treasure trove. My mother and her sisters used to make paper dolls from models in the catalogue. Then they would find clothes with a similar pose. They made clothes for the dolls with those. clothes. There was a shoebox full of them. It was such fun.

The attic was where the black walnuts from the tree on the way to the pasture were kept. We cracked them open on a thick piece of metal with a hammer that was there just for the walnuts.

For many years electricity was not available on the farm. At night the house was lit with kerosene lamps like you sometimes see on television. Of course we went to bed quite early. Up early in the morning was a farmer's way pf life.

On Saturdays my uncles would hook up the crystal radio. A wire hooked into the wire of the screen door served as the antenna. We would listen to baseball and cheer for the team we wanted to win.

And there was no indoor plumbing. As I have made clear many times I hate having to use an outhouse. On the farm the outhouse had three holes plus a short one at the side for little ones. Grandma did not buy toilet paper. A page from the mail order catalogue was used.  I do not miss that at all.

I have so many happy memories of the farm and my grandparents. I almost hate to end this but it is time.


  1. here. This was a precious post. I grew up on a farm in Illinois (90 miles from Hannibal) . When we first moved into the old farmhouse, it had none of the modern stuff. I hated the outhouse too., but we had T/P. My brothers milked the cows. So many memories. Wish we could sit down over a cup of coffee and swap stories.

    1. My grandparent's farm was outside of Valparaiso, Nebraska. It was a good place for a child to be.

  2. I'm so glad you are recording these memories! I can't tell you how much I enjoy reading about this beautiful past.

    1. I am happy to know you enjoyed it. The purpose of my blog is to preserve memories and family history for my children, grandchildren, and on down the line.

  3. Even though these blog posts are to save memories and family history for your own family, Emma, they are so enjoyable for many of us. I laughed when reading how you toppled into the milk bucket and how your grandma helped the ailing cow, but not when she used the shotgun and knocked out her front teeth. That attic sounds like such a great hangout, aside from the stuffed bobcat.

    1. You are correct all the way. Grandma never did get her teeth fixed. I so loved the farm.