Fall - Chores and Work
Children had to do chores before school -- milking cows; feeding
and watering cows, horses, sheep, and pigs. After school, they
did similar chores and helped gather eggs, chop wood, and gather
corn cobs to heat the cook stove in the kitchen.
"We always had lots of chores and even as a small
kid, growing up, we had to take our to turn…We had
chickens, we had hogs, and we had cattle, both dairy cattle
and regular cattle. Lots of horses because we farmed with
horses." -- Hollis
Miller (Quicktime required)
Merna Bailey remembers her chores.
girls we didn't have to do anything in the morning before
school…But at night, fill the cob baskets, several
cob baskets. And it wasn't too bad when we had nice corncobs
in the corncrib,
but when they were gone, we had to go to the hog pen and
pick up the hog pen cobs. That wasn't too much fun…We
helped to feed the chickens, gather the eggs... The
corn they picked by hand with wagons, the team pulling the
wagon…My dad…was a good corn picker… I
sometimes went out…so I learned to use the peg."
Bailey (Quicktime required)
Preserving food for winter
Walter Schmitt remembers their big garden and many fruit
trees. "Mother canned a lot of cherries. We had a couple
apple trees and…currant bushes, blueberry bushes. We
did raise a lot of food of our own. We raised a lot of potatoes.
We had a big garden."
Ruth Nettleton said their orchard had many trees, too. "I
suppose six or eight different kinds of apples. And there
were plums and there were cherries, and there were grapes.
Mother canned a lot. After I was married I planned to can
a hundred quarts of apples and a hundred quarts of tomatoes."
She also pickled beets by boiling them and putting them in
a vinegar solution to preserve them.
The Whole Hog
Farm families used every part of the hog. Some meat from
hogs was smoked or cured with salt (bacon, salt pork, and
ham). Meat had to be cured or preserved because most farms
did not have electricity to run refrigerators. Even the fat
from the hog [lard] was used to make soap.
saved everything in those days … saved the liver. You
made the liverwurst [sausage]… We had a lot of sausage
and hams, cured our own hams … Even when we butchered…we
had other couples come over or some of my aunts and uncles
would come over, and you'd kind of divide up a little bit
when you went home." --Dean Buller (Quicktime required)
Some people rented a freezer box in town where they could store
meat because they did not have electricity on the farm to run
First the hog was killed, then dipped in a barrel of hot water
to help remove the hair. The skin was scraped over and over
to remove all the hair. Then the hog carcass was cut in pieces:
some for smoking and salt curing, some to be ground up
had a regular little building for a smokehouse. Made
a fire underneath…a fire that wouldn't burn, just
smoke. Apple wood would be the best bark to use for to
give it a flavor… And the hams, we cut, made hams
and we salted them. The night of when we butchered we'd
salt the hams and the hind hams…and you'd be sure
and put that full of salt [so it wouldn't spoil]."
Friesen (Quicktime required)
Recipe: How to Make Soap
Sometimes Merna Bailey's family asks her for recipes. Even
though she knows people don't make their own soap anymore,
she is happy to share her recipe:
of lard and fat from various butcherings plus bacon grease
and the lye would be poured into a big stone jar. Using
one can of lye, two and a half pints of cold water, mix to
six pounds of fat, lard and what combination. The lye solution
is poured slowly. At the end steady stream and even stirring,
continuing to stir with a wooden spoon until it can stand
on its own. Leave for 24 hours and then cut…into bars
to dry and spread out. I felt so proud, good and proud
when I looked at those big chunks of soap…Using the lye
could be dangerous." -- Merna
Bailey (Quicktime required)
Pumping and plumbing
Few farmers in the 1920s had indoor plumbing. Instead, they
dug a hole four to five feet deep and placed a wooden outhouse
on top. The entire family used the outhouse year 'round. Hollis
Miller said their family's "privy" (outhouse) was
a small wooden structure that rested on the dirt over a deep
hole that had been dug by hand. Inside were two seats. No
flushing water, no toilet seat, no toilet paper. "You
always saved the Sears and Roebuck catalog," he said.
"We didn't have the tissue paper that you have today."
He remembers running to the outhouse on cold winter days and
using crumpled up pages of the Sears catalog as toilet paper.
Written by Claudia Reinhardt.