The Early Years: The New Family Farm Continued

Our family farm was well suited for growing a number of different crops that farmers normally grew in this particular area.  We grew corn, tomatoes, tobacco, cotton, and soybeans.  Both my father and mother worked in the fields preparing the soil to plant, plow and harvest each of these various products grown on the farm.  We also grew hay and fodder for feeding our cows, the mule, and horse which we had on the farm.  We would usually have a couple of milk cows and several head of hogs which would serve as meat for us during the year.  Most of the time we would have a mule and a horse that my father would use to work the crops.  This included the “turning of the new ground” each spring to prepare the soil and then plant the seeds or plants in order to prepare for the fall harvest.  There was a very heavy work load to plant, grow, and harvest all of these very important products and it took all the family, including the kids.  We all would have to work on the farm. My mother worked right along our father’s side in most of the activity that was required on the farm.

The farmhouse where we lived was an old small-three-bedroom house without the modern-day privileges such a built in bathroom, electricity, and telephone.  Quite naturally, without electricity there was no refrigeration for the home.  Instead, we finally were able to purchase an “ice box” where foodstuff was stored in a box that was cooled by ice that was delivered by an “ice man” a couple of times each week.  Since there was no in-house bathroom, we used an outhouse which was located about 100 yards from the main house.  It did not matter if it was a cold winter or a hot summer, we had to use the outhouse instead of the normal bathroom facilities we have in our homes today.

The house was of wooden clapboard construction with a tin roof which included two small porches, one located on the front of the house and the other on the backside near the dining room.  The front porch provided entry to the living room and space for a couple of rocking chairs.  The back porch provided access to the small dining room, and had sufficient space for a water shed on which a small hand pump was placed.  The water shed provided water for cooking and washing dishes.  We also used it to pump water into large metal tub for our baths, and to fill a huge black wood-fired pot my mother used to wash our clothing.  The one water pump on the back porch was a vital part of our everyday living.

The back yard was large with a sizeable “smoke house” where the meats and sausages were smoked and kept hanging until brought into the house and cooked.  Its floor was earthen.  The smoke house had racks built above ground so meats could not be reached by animals or rodents from the fields.

The unpainted house was quite adequate for our small family.  It had a living room/family room with a red brick fireplace.  The cooking stove sat in the middle of the kitchen.  A second fireplace, sat directly behind the cook stove.  The small dining room had the eating table and two sets of long benches alongside.  The dining room also had a food storage safe and an ice box.  There was a water producing hand pump on the small back porch of the house where we would pump water to bring into the kitchen for cooking.  We also used this to pump water for our large wash tub for our baths, as well as the water would be pumped and placed in a huge black wood-fired pot that my mother would use to wash all our clothing. So the one water pump that was on the back porch was a vital part of our everyday living.

The house was covered in a tin roof. This did not provide good insulation during the hot summers as well as during the cold winter hours.  Since there was no electricity, there were no electric fans for cooling or air conditioning.  During winter, the fire places in the living room/family room and the kitchen were needed, but were very poor sources of heat for the family. One of my jobs before my teen years and one that I hated most, was having to get up early in the morning and start the fires in the fireplaces before the family got up to start the day’s activities.  Most often the house was very cold on those mornings.  Even though the fire would get started and I would stand in front of the fire, I would be warm on one side and be freezing on the other side.

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One Response to The Early Years: The New Family Farm Continued

  1. Joyce Reese says:

    I can relate to some of Bob’s childhood here….my parents and the last of my sibling lived under similar circumstances….I certainly remember the back side being cold while the front got warm…..tin filled bathtubs and the outhouse – oh how glad I was when I got married and had facilities (but that was at the 2nd place Al and I lived).

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