Spring - Chores and Work
Before walking or riding horseback to school each day, children
had to get up early and do their chores. Springtime meant additional
chores. Feeding newborn calves, baby pigs, and lambs. Mothers
and babies needed additional feed, bedding and protection
from cold, wet weather. Farmers also trained young horses in
the spring to prepare them for working in a harness, pulling
wagons and working in the fields. Farmers planted corn, oats,
millet, and barley in the spring.
Hollis Miller said it took a lot of work to manage a farm
in the 1920s.
|"In the spring you had to be organized and
know what piece of ground you were going to put oats on
or what piece of ground you was going to put your wheat
on or corn on and what piece of ground that you were going
to go to alfalfa with then. " -- Hollis
Miller (Quicktime required)
Housework and music:
Soon after school was over in May,
a farm woman often gathered the children to help with spring
house cleaning. They stripped beds of sheets, aired out feather
mattresses, and took rugs outside to beat the winter dust
out of them.
|"Cleaning the house was a big job because we didn't
have vacuum sweepers then. We took a broom and you swept
that carpet and the dust just flew all over… Sometimes
in the evening when we girls were older … we'd sit
around the piano, and when dad would come in and get washed
up and … he'd come in and sit with us and we'd sing.
I think he liked to hear us play. I never was as good at
it as my two sisters, but I got by when I was teaching
school, to sing with the kids." -- Merna
Bailey (Quicktime required)
Ruth Nettleton's mother baked bread about twice a
week, and Ruth helped.
were a big family, eight, and hired men part of
the time. So she gave me some dough and I could
make bread. …So I would make cinnamon rolls
and I'd make biscuits." -- Ruth
Nettleton (Quicktime required)
Planting a Garden
Vegetables from the garden fed farm families year-round,
so planting and tending the garden were important duties.
Farmers planted beans, peas, pumpkins, onions, potatoes, asparagus,
carrots, beets, asparagus and squash, as well as strawberries
Reading from a journal written in 1929, Ruth Nettleton said:
"After breakfast, washed dishes and [cream] separator.
Worked in the garden. I picked beans, strawberries, beets,
and zucchini. I cut down the hollyhocks that were through
blooming, then I canned the beans and cooked the beets.
I fixed the strawberries to freeze. So thankful to have
an [icebox] at the locker in town to keep frozen food.
Then I cooked and strained soap grease … to make
soap next week." -- Ruth Nettleton (Quicktime required)
How to Milk a Cow
Like a lot of chores on a farm, milking the cows had to be
done each day. Kenneth Jackson remembers what it was like.
had to [milk] regularly…you should do it about the
same time every morning and again at night. You milked
twice a day. Their bags usually filled up with milk…you
would just take a hold of them, squeeze and pull down.
You usually milked one front one and one back one at the
same time and change and milk the other fat one in the
back. And after it quits coming easy why you'd take your
thumb and finger and keep stripping… till you didn't
get milk anymore. But if you only milked a cow half way
and went off and left her, why in two or three days she'd
be dry. She'd quit producing milk if you didn't take it
regularly…We used to sing…old fashioned songs
[while milking]. Cats used to line up and you used to
squirt milk in the cat's mouth. They were always on hand
for a milking cause we fed them. Always had a cat pan
and just give them some fresh milk when we fed them. So
they were always sitting there…and you could squirt
it right into their mouth." -- Kenneth
Jackson (Quicktime required)
Clyde Ehlers remembers raising baby chickens.
had a chicken house. They had incubators, and they'd turn
them eggs every other day or something like for how many
days it took. You usually had a little stove in there
to keep them warm, and you'd turn them loose. You'd have
them confined pretty well around this light or this heat,
and then they got bigger, why you'd remove some of the
surroundings so they'd have a longer area and they grew
fast and about three pounds, three or four pounds, why
the little roosters [males] they got into the frying pan'
cause that was part of your food. And the pullets [females]
why you kept them for laying eggs later. So you'd get
in on cleaning the chicken house out." -- Clyde Ehlers (Quicktime required)
Written by Claudia Reinhardt.