Wednesday, December 24

Christmas Morning Milking

It was very dark when I woke up at 4 am to join my father in the barn that Christmas morning. I was in high school and it was our Sunday to milk the cows. The girls can't wait or take a day off. I put on my long johns and jeans, turtle neck and wool sweater made a quick stop at the fridge to grab some grub to carry me over til breakfast...3 hours til then. I put on my sorel boots, my heavy coat, the red wool hat with ear flaps and my wool mittens doubled up that Mom had knit. Off across the dooryard to the milking barn. The first thing to take care of was feeding the cows. First they all got a portion of grain and minerals measured out individually depending on their need. Then we would give them hay. The cows were all in stanchions, thirty on each side of the barn facing out looking toward the windows. To do this you made your way down each manger between cows and windows busting open the bales and fluffing it out so they could get at it easily. As I got to the further end of the barn I noticed that there were lights on down in the house. Not a usual site as Mom would normally sleep until six when she would start breakfast. So I stopped and scraped the frost away so I could get a clearer view and I could just make out the silhouette of a person moving back and forth across the living room to the lighted Christmas tree.

Monday, October 13

Pine needle playhouse

I was reminded this weekend as I was raking my white pine tree needles of the hours we spent as kids making pine needle playhouses. It was simply raking the needles into a very crude outline of a building very much like what you see on a blueprint. We would make rooms with doors and windows and see how extravagant we could make them. I don't know that we spent any time in the finished "house" we just spent lots of time raking and thinking about our future dream house. We would also rake all the pine needles into one huge pile and make a nest. Good clean fun. No batteries required.

Thursday, October 2

Farm Clothing

Seeing this post on Farm Natters reminded my of what you wore to the barn.
The Evolution of Farm Clothing

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I was by all means a tom-boy growing up. I was the youngest and scrawniest of the kids in the neighborhood and received lots of hand-me-downs. I preferred the boys Levi jeans best. As a farm kid you have two sets of clothes: Barn clothes + School clothes. And if you forgot to change and got something nasty on your best fear they were instantly transformed to barn clothes. Barn clothes were OH so much more comfy. If you were lucky nobody would notice that you had been wearing the same pants all week (I know the cows didn't). Mom would sooner or later WASH them, ugh they'd be stiff and tight from hanging on the line to dry.

You always wore jeans during haying otherwise your legs would get scratched to hell and you'd look like you had a tussle with a cat.

I was the only one on the farm that wore shorts in the barn milking in the summer. My father thought I was out of my mind. My legs would get completely covered with every disgusting thing that you could possibly find in the barn. But it was cooler and we had a great pond that we swam in after chores.

In winter it was a different story. The barn was always warm from the cows body heat. But getting to and from the barns and having the coat hang in the barn picking up all those wonderful smells that only farm families had to have a barn coat too. The hat I wore was an old red wool cap with ear flaps that I inherited from my father after my mom washed it in hot water.

Friday, August 8

Saturday Morning Breakfast with Grammy & Grampa

I don't remember how old I was or how it started exactly. Elementary school I guess. Saturday mornings I would get up before six and try to get to the old barn where the young stock were before my father did. I'd start the chores; cleaning the manger and water bowls, feeding the young cows & calves grain, hoeing the manure out from under each one and putting fresh sawdust back in. Dad would come from the Big barn with buckets of warm water if we needed to feed really young calves milk replacer. Once everything was in order, the best part...I would get into the farm car with my father and my uncle and we would go down the hill to my Grandparents for Breakfast. Grammy would make tons of food. Oatmeal, Johnny cake, eggs, bacon or sausage, homemade donuts or toast, Coffee, Tea, OJ, milk, homemade butter and yes, we always had lots of Maple syrup to put on or into anything that needed sweetening. We would sit around their oval table and my father to my left, my uncle and Grampa to my right and Grammy across from me. After breakfast a quick catnap or for me some cartoon watching and then back up to the farm to do more chores.

Saturday, July 26

Long days begin at 4 AM.

On a dairy farm the cows get milked twice a day. Our morning milking started at 4 am. I didn't have to endure this everyday...thank goodness. But once or twice a month I would take my place in the barn at this hour. Most days it was 6 or 7 am when I got out of bed.
But those mornings that I did have to get up and was with my father in the barn were special. Of course when the alarm went off you didn't think so. But the barn was always welcoming. Warm, full of the animal smells and their noises. And you got to see and experience things that you would miss otherwise. Those sunrises over Pudding Hill, and the pink sunlight would come streaming through the windows of the open doors in summer. The songs that the birds start their day with is amazing.

Friday, July 18

Growing up on the Farm

  • Living in a farm community.
  • Living in a neighborhood where you KNOW all the folks.
  • We made our own fun.
  • There were some chores that were not fun.
  • Long days.
  • Open spaces and acres of woods.
  • Natural wonders.
  • Fresh food.

I plan to use this list as a starting point to describe what I remember about my time on the farm. Sharon started me to thinking about it. So, I'll see what I can come up with.