How It Was On The Farm In The Forties

Discussion in 'Other Reminiscences' started by Ted Richards, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. Ted Richards

    Ted Richards Well-Known Member
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    I was a little guy during World War II. In those days, before we had electricity, we all listened to a battery-powered radio at night. We had no reception until nightfall and even then, it required a very long, complicated copper wire antenna on high poles outside positioned just so. Dad worked in the fields all day and then cared for the cattle and horses in the evening. After supper, he connected the radio to a huge dry cell battery and they both sat close to the radio to hear the war news. Occasionally we listened to other programs for entertainment. My favorite was Fibber McGee and Molly and my dad really liked the Amos and Andy show. There were times when we didn’t have a dry cell battery and the truck battery was pressed into service. The only time we could get any radio reception was at night and it required a large antenna wire to receive a signal at all. I can remember my parents both hunched over the radio every night for the latest word on the Battle of The Bulge and later, the war in the Pacific.

    We had a small herd of milk cows and my mother milked them by hand twice a day. My job was to carry water to the corral so my mother could wash their udders before milking. I was so little that a half-bucket of water was awfully heavy. My father raised the alfalfa and grains that we fed the cows. Before I was old enough to go to school, we stored alfalfa hay in large haystacks. One time I found the hay knife, a wicked-looking blade about three feet long with very large coarse teeth and a handle at the top. I climbed a haystack and hauled the hay knife up with me, then proceeded to cut up the haystack. When I was done, I threw the hay knife over the side and jumped down after it. Apparently I landed on it for I had a nice slice in my leg just below the knee. I managed to get to the house and was taken to a doctor in the village. I recall he sewed me up with a cigar clenched between his teeth.

    For a while, mom separated the cream from the milk by letting it stand overnight and the cream rose to the top. Then she dipped the cream off for making butter. Later, we had a mechanical cream separator and it had lots of parts that had to be removed and washed by hand. It was quite a job to put it all together again too, but it worked really well. My older brother was the mechanical one in the family and taught my mother how to take it apart and put it all back together again.

    Mom churned butter in a two-gallon butter churn. The temperature had to be just right, not too warm or too cold, and it still took a lot of cranking to make butter. I got to help with that. When it was done, we had buttermilk! Mom washed the butter to get all the milk out and then pressed it into butter molds. Then she wrapped each one-pound block in waxed paper.

    We did not have electricity yet, so we did not have a refrigerator either. We had to keep the butter and milk cool so my dad built a cooler about the size and shape of a large refrigerator. It was a wooden framework with shelves. The outside was covered with screen wire with a couple of layers of burlap over that. This box was placed under a great Pepper tree and a galvanized number 3 tub was placed on top. The tub had a pattern of tiny holes in the bottom and the leaking water saturated the burlap. Our was a desert climate, very dry, so the evaporation of water kept our cooler quite cool. My job was to keep that tub filled by carrying water from the pump up the ladder and dumping it into the tub.

    Butter was rationed during World War II and brought premium prices. My mother would sell our butter and buy margarine for our family because it was cheap. In those days, margarine was sold in its natural color, white. A small package of red coloring was included and you kneaded the coloring into the margarine to make it yellow.

    Because we lived in a semi-desert climate, all of our crops had to be irrigated. Irrigation water was provided to the farms by placing a loose diversion dam of sticks and weeds across our very small river way upstream and diverting some of the water into irrigation ditches that ran for miles on a course parallel to the river. Two irrigation ditches ran across our farm. Each farmer could use all of the water in the ditch in his turn for his allotted number of hours and then, finished or not, he must let all the water flow again. Our turn might come at midnight until 8 am on Sunday and then not again for ten days.

    We irrigated the fields by flooding them. This brought out the gophers whose burrows were flooded. Gophers are real pests on the farm, so when they were flooded out, our dog and cat had a field day catching gophers. Cats don’t like water very much, but ours didn’t seem to mind getting soaked to catch gophers.
     
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  2. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member
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    I remember making butter in a churn. Mama would let me push the dasher up and down sometimes. She would pat the butter in a butter mold with a little flower. When it was dumped out, it had a little flower on top. My granddaughter still has that churn. It was used so much that the stick is worn thin where it would touch the sides of the churn.
     
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  3. Ted Richards

    Ted Richards Well-Known Member
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    I think your churn must have been an older style that was common in the 1800's. Was it made of wood? Hope you still have it, it's likely a valuable antique.

    Mom's churn was a glass 2 gallon jar with a screw top. The top contained the churning mechanism where one turned a hand crank that turned two wood paddles in the jar.
     
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  4. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member
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    churn.jpg @Ted Richards , the churn part is made of pottery and has a wooden dasher. I think it must have passed down through the generations. I found a picture of one like it.

     
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