In the morning, Jack and family had to milk the cows, feed the chickens and do whatever other chores were necessary. Jack would then hitch up the horses and work in the fields from about 8:30 A.M. until noon. At this time, he would feed and water the horses, and then give them a chance to rest. After dinner, at about 1:30 P.M., Jack would hitch them up again and then work in the fields until about 6:00 P.M. At this time, the horses would be turned loose and Jack would go and milk the cows.
Jack is branding with his sons in about 1940. Clinton is holding the calf down while
Billy holds the rope.
Having a large family was convenient because Jack could use lots of help. Somebody had to get the cows at 6:30 A.M. and again at 5:30 P.M., every day. Jack, Lou, Sheldon, and Ross milked the cows. Later, after the two older boys left home, Clinton and Billy learned to milk.
Lou was helped in the house by the 4 girls. Helen helped to prepare supper, make lunches, and wash dishes. Gladys, who was 3 years younger, dried the dishes. On Saturday, Helen cleaned the upstairs and Gladys scrubbed the chairs. These jobs were never rotated. When Helen left home, the jobs were reassigned. Gladys took over Helenís jobs. Roxy and Lyla also took on the various jobs as they grew up.
Other jobs included gathering wood for the morning fire, gathering eggs, and washing clothes. Lou and the 4 girls all took turns scrubbing clothes on a washboard in a round tin tub. Handkerchiefs were boiled in water and vinegar on top of the stove. The water was changed several times before they were fit to go into the regular wash. Diapers were also washed daily.
Water had to be hauled from a well located across the road, just south of the farm. The farm well, which was at the foot (30 cm) of the windmill had water that was full of alkali. The cattle drank this water, which was pumped out of the well with the help of the windmill.
This is Jack in the winter time.
When they ran short of coal, they had to take a three day trip with a wagon and team to the Sheerness strip mine. It took a day to break out and load the coal. They took their own blankets and slept in a cook shack. In the winter, the men ate frozen sandwiches along the way.
When the Stoppington post office closed down, they had to get the mail from Youngstown. It was a long days journey. When the men were returning on a winterís night, the children would go out and listen for the bells on the horseís harness. They could hear them through the clear crisp air long before they arrived. Later, Jack bought a Model T Ford, so the trip became much quicker.
A lot of what they used on the farm was also made on the farm. Lou bought cucumbers in season and pickled them. Fresh fruit was also preserved in jars. Eggs were kept in a liquid jell. Jack cured the meat by rubbing it with salt, pepper, and saltpeter. Lou boiled pig fat and lye in a pot to make soap. In the early part of winter, Lou would preserve butter by placing it outside to freeze. She would then wrap the butter in butter paper and brown paper, before placing it in a granary and covering it with wheat. This would keep it frozen, even when it warmed up outside.
Lou won first prize at fairs for her homemade butter on several occasions.
Making good butter:
While well fed cows give milk that produces good butter, Lou's skill was also important. Lou would begin by using a plunger and churn to churn the cream into butter. Then she washed the butter in cold water to get the milk out. Next, she would squeeze and pound the butter to get the water out. This was done in a large wooden bowl with a large wooden spoon. The butter had to be worked properly for from 15 to 30 minutes, until the right texture had been achieved. Lou would mix in just the right amount of salt. The butter would then be worked into a rectangular shaped box so that it would form a one pound block.
In the fall, Lou would make a mattress by sewing a large canvas type bag and then stuffing it full of straw. This made a round and thick mattress which eventually settled and flattened.
to next section: Life in the Community.