Sunday, May 4, 2014


Good Morning, Class of '64
Bringing in the Hay - John Whetton Ehringer
So God Made a Farmer
Paul Harvey

God Made a Farmer's Wife
Diane Wolfe Martin & Thomas Wolfe

“Why do farmers farm,
given their economic adversities
on top of the many
frustrations and difficulties
normal to farming?
And always the answer is:
"Love. They must do it for love."
Farmers farm for the love of farming.
They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants.
 They love to live in the presence of animals.
They love to work outdoors.
They love the weather,
maybe even when it is making them miserable.
They love to live where they work
and to work where they live.
If the scale of their farming is small enough,
they like to work in the company of their children
and with the help of their children.
They love the measure of independence that
farm life can still provide.
I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone
to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed
to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.”
Wendell Berry
Bringing it to the Table:
Writings on Farming and Food
Haying - Theodore Robinson

Sundays with Larry

Daily Chores

Field Hand With Scythe - John George Brown
On a subsistence farm, there was always field work. But chores had to be done each morning and evening before and after the field work.

The chores started with building the fire in the wood-burning cooking stove and, in colder weather, in the wood or coal heating stove. Dad always did that - it was nice to get up in a cold bedroom, hurriedly dress, and rush downstairs to huddle around the heating stove on cold winter mornings. Mom fixed breakfast and, often
 Breakfast - Nikolai Bogdanov Belskiy
a much harder task, got the rest of us up. My brother and I resisted. When we heard Dad say that it was time to get up, we knew it was time!  Mom fixed three meals a day, all from scratch, seven days a week, and made hot biscuits with most of them.

Milkin' - Dona And Jerry Locklair

After breakfast, the cows had to be milked. In the winter, that was done in the barn. We used a small pen about 100 yards from the house in the summer. We usually milked 3 cows. 

An additional task, one that I hated, in the summer was feeding the orphan lambs. We had 2 or 3 each year, lambs whose mother had died, had too many lambs to feed, or rejected them. We fed them from bottles with rubber nipples. They were very impatient and butted a lot - that butting sprayed milk all over but mostly in your face. I usually fed them through the vertical cracks in a gate to protect myself from warm milk spray.

Gathering Eggs - Dona & Jerry Locklair
The hogs and chickens had to be fed and any early morning eggs gathered. We fed the chickens commercial “scratch” feed, crushed oyster shell, and shelled corn, which, of course, first had to be shelled. We fed the hogs ear corn (They could shell it for themselves!) and table scraps called “slop,” hence, “slopping the hogs.” 
A Meal For the Pigs - Arthur Watson Sparks

The hogs were impatient. The bucket of slop had to be poured into a wooden trough. Trying to do that over a rail fence with impatient, hungry hogs fighting for it was a real pain, so we made U-shaped troughs that went through the fence into the feed trough to pour the slop into.That made a messy, smelly job a bit easier. We sometimes mixed a by-product of the flour industry, the ground wheat hulls called middlings, into the slop. The hogs and chickens both had to be fed again in the evenings and the eggs gathered again.

Boy Attacked by Hen - Wally Fialkowska
By the way, gathering eggs can be a very scary job for a little boy. Some of the hens do not like their eggs being taken and they can peck pretty hard. I’ve been chased out of the chicken house more than once by an irate hen. The smell in the chicken house was bad even for a farm.

Old Well Bucket - Gary Partin

Water had to be drawn from the well, probably 8 - 10 two-gallon buckets daily.

The wood box and kindling box for the cooking stove had to be filled every evening. We often had to carry in a few loads in the middle of the day in colder weather or when Mom was canning.

Country Kitchen - James Lumbers
Carrying the firewood, along with gathering the eggs, was one of my first chores. In colder weather, the wood or coal for the heating stove had to be carried. We burned 4 to 8 buckets of coal per day in winter. Of course the ashes had to be taken out daily.

In winter, the horse, cows, and sheep had to be fed and watered twice daily. We usually fed some grain in addition to the hay to the horse and cows. We also fed the corn fodder to the cows; they loved it. A month or so prior to lambing season, we supplemented the hay with a high-protein sweet feed (grain with molasses mixed in it) for the sheep.
Feeding Time - Gunning King

The hay was fed in the mangers to the horse and cows and spread on the ground for the sheep. The grain was fed in grain boxes, one for each animal, to the horse and cows. We had long, narrow troughs, 10 - 12 inches wide and up to 20 feet long to feed the sheep grain.
Sheep & Shepherd - Unknown

On cold days, ice in the spring had to be chopped out with an ax. When the snow was deep, we had to break trail through the snow so the sheep could get to water. The same process was repeated in the evenings, as was the milking.

In winter, the heating stove had to be banked so that the fire would not go out during the night. Dad always did that. He had a horrible fear of the house burning so he trusted no one else to do it.

Boots with Laces - Van Gogh
He hung our socks on the backs of ladder-back chairs around the stove and set our shoes and boots on the chairs. They were wonderfully warm when we put them on in the mornings. I miss that.
Man with Scythe - John Eastman

It is ironic that the house that Dad built and raised his family in did burn to the ground a short time after Mom and my brother left the mountain. It is more ironic that Mason was killed in a house fire a few months after leaving the mountain.

These chores took from one to two hours a day with an extra hour or two in bad weather. That was before and after the full day’s work in the fields.

“These memories are part of my heritage, 
the fabric of my personality, 
and as real to me as the land itself.”
Karen Jones Gowen
Farm Girl

Who's Gonna Feed Them Hogs? 
Tom T. Hall - 1971

Going Home - Dona & Jerry Locklair
“The fields are black and ploughed,
 and they lie like a great fan before us, 
with their furrows gathered in some hand 
beyond the sky, spreading forth from that hand, 
opening wide apart as they come toward us, 
like black pleats that sparkle 
with thin, green spangles.”
Ayn Rand

“A determined Yankee book drummer once
 told a Southerner that 'a set of books on 
scientific agriculture' would teach him to 
'farm twice as good as you do.' 
To which the Southerner replied: 
'Hell, son, I don't farm half as good 
as I know how now.”
Grady McWhiney 
Cracker Culture: 
Celtic Ways in the Old South

“Why does no one speak of the cultural 
advantages of the country?
 For example, is a well groomed, 
ecologically kept, sustainably fertile farm 
any less cultural, any less artful, 
than paintings of fat angels on church ceilings?”
Gene Logsdon
  Living at Nature's Pace:
 Farming and the American Dream  
Noonday in Summer - Jerome Thompson

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