Life on the Farm

I guess the first year we were married we had corn planted. I went out to pick some and a saw a big snake, so I went home without picking any. Later Bob said, "That corn should be ready." So I said, "Yes, you come with me and weíll pick it." I did not want him to know that I was afraid of snakes. He eventually found out that I was scared to death of snakes. We had no lawn mower back then, so the grass around the house was higher. When I went out back to my garden, Iíd scream if there was a snake, and Bob would come running with a shovel. Later, when the lads were bigger, they took over the job. Anytime they heard me screaming they would come running.

I would take the kids in the stroller and weed the garden, help coil hay, or if I did not have the kids, I would rake hay with the horses. Sometimes mother would come down and stay with the kids for a day or two when we were working in the fields. Sometimes, during pickling season, I would be out in field all day and, of course, would get no housework done. When we came in, Bob would help me with the housework and pickling.

At thrashing time the neighbors (usually 10 or 12 men) would get together and go from one place to another, bringing the thrashing machine with them. The women would bake for a week ahead of time - pies and what not all. Usually, I had the men for dinner and supper and could they eat! Dinner (noon) was meat, potatoes, vegetables and usually pie. Supper was fried potatoes, meat and whatever was left over. Earlier, the grain would have been cut and tied into sheaves by the binder, then stooked in the fields and left to dry. At thrashing time, they loaded the stooks onto a wagon, brought them to the barn and forked them into the thrashing machine. The straw would be blown into the mow and the grain would go into the granary, which had different sections for wheat, oats, etc. All this was done with horses, except for the thrashing machine, which was powered by a tractor.

Killing pigs in the fall was a major event. Nothing was wasted. They would stick the pig and hold a bowl under it to catch the blood to make blood sausage. The intestines were cleaned to be used for sausage casings. The head would go into head cheese. We would smoke the sausages, hams, and bacon. In the fall, the smoke house was always full. The neighbors would bring their meat over to be smoked too. Once the meat was frozen, it would be buried in the grain and kept frozen until early summer, if we had any left by that time. We had to be careful getting the meat out because sometimes the cats shit in the grain.

Keith was born in December 1949, and we got electricity near the last of October 1949. Dad had an ice house when I was growing up, but Bob and I didnít. We kept things cool in the cellar as it had an earth floor. Boy, that was something when the electricity came in - first a radio, then a fridge. It saved so many trips up and down the cellar steps.


  Manny Laundry, our neighbor, came over on a Saturday night when we were doing chores. He had ordered chickens, so he came to see if we could drive him into town to get the chickens. While Bob finished the chores, I took Manny in to get the chickens. Our car had a rumble seat, so we sat the chickens on the seat. On the way home, I slid off the road, which was wet and muddy in the spring of the year. The box flew open and the chickens got out. There were chickens everywhere. I picked them up and put them back in the box while Manny went to get a neighbour with a horse to pull us out. I told Manny that I did not want to drive anymore, but he would not drive. He made me drive the car and I remember Bob saying afterwards he was glad that Manny had done that.

In winter the roads were not open and we could not drive cars. We used horses and sleighs. On the day before Christmas, when the kids were small, I would put a couple of bricks in the oven in the morning. In the afternoon, we would load the kids and the bricks into the sleigh and cover them up with blankets and a buffalo robe and drive the 9 miles up to my parents. Gifts were wrapped up and placed under the tree. We stayed there for the night and the next morning the lads would take the cutter and go back to do the chores. Christmas dinner would be goose, as I raised geese, and the rest of the dinner would be similar to what we have now. Then in the afternoon we would go back home. Later on when we had more kids we would have Christmas at home.

At Easter, the kids would put out their caps or toques to make a nest for the Easter bunny. One year, when the kids were small, I had put jelly beans in all the nests, but in morning most of them were gone. We couldnít figure that out. Later, when I was watering the big fern, I found them. I figured it had to have been a mouse that moved them.

In those days, no one ever locked the house or took the keys out of the car ignition. Someone said there was a bum around town, so when Bob and I were going into town, we decided to lock the doors. When we returned, Bob felt his pockets, and said, "You must have the keys." I said "No," and when he went to the door, he found the keys in the lock, but the door was locked!

In the winter, Bob would usually feed the hens. In those days women wore skirts, so when I went to feed them, the rooster would peck my legs, but the rooster would not bother Bob. One time, I put on Bobís pants and the rooster never bothered me at all.

The outhouse on the farm was behind the granary. It was falling down, so Bob built a new one at the end of the wood shed with the door opening into the wood shed. We called it our inside toilet because we didnít have to go outside to get to it, just through the wood shed, which was attached to the house.

Bob never came in from the fields without a 4-leaf clover. Now Don has no trouble finding them and Bev seems to have the same talent. On the day of Glen and Julieís wedding, we went to supper at the Braeside United Church before going to the wedding and Don found a 5-leaf clover for me.