Summer - Chores and Work
Everyone in the family had additional chores in the summertime.
Children were expected to gather eggs, churn cream into butter,
feed and harness horses, clean the chicken house, feed chickens
and hogs, help plant and harvest crops, help cut hay and store
it in the barn, tend bees, pick summer fruit and use it to bake
pies, preserve and can vegetables from the garden, and much
more. After a long day in the field and evening chores, most families ate a late supper by the light of kerosene lamps. Most
children were so tired, they went to bed soon after supper.
During the summer, farm families and neighbors banded together
to harvest wheat and oats and separate the grain from the stalk,
a process known as threshing.
Many farm families kept bees. The honey was used on bread and
for cooking. Bees were important, because they pollinated the fruit trees
in the family's orchard. As a country school teacher, Ruth Nettleton
remembers the fun of keeping bees and using the honey to make
treats for her students.
had plenty of honey and I can, you can cook with honey…
They [the bees] were kept near the orchard. They helped
pollenize the flower, the trees…One experience with bees that I had when I was a
little girl, father was gone and there was a swarm of bees…My
sister, Julie and I thought we better get those bees [into
the] hive… So she got a ladder and went up about one
step. And I knew exactly how to do it because I had helped
father… I had gone up the tree and she held the box
and I shook the bees…We were just kids…10 or
11 maybe…I had bees for years and years."
Nettleton (Quicktime required)
How do you wash clothes for a big family without a washer
and dryer? Almost no rural homes had electricity in the 1920s,
so laundry was usually done by hand—washing clothes
and feeding them into a hand-cranked wringer. Work clothes,
diapers, underwear and socks—everything was washed in
water heated on the stove. It was then hung on a clothes line to dry. Some
farm women scrubbed clothes on a metal washboard. Norma Ehlers
remembered their family's washhouse was by the windmill, which pumped water that could be used for washing clothes.
Written by Claudia Reinhardt.