Monday, October 26, 2015

Collaborating with a Sister on Farm Memories

Collaborating with my sister on farm memories is proving to be delightful.  She is writing poetry and making sketches as well as paintings of life on the farm as we recall it.

Although we live in different states, we do a great deal of mailing of thoughts, sketches, photos and family history back and forth.  I feel it's important that we compile this information for our families and future generations.

I write about some of this on my blogs, as well as including some of these thoughts in my "Country Kitchen" column for the McKenzie River Reflections newspaper in Oregon.

Currently we're working on:

  • A history booklet of our farm
  • Seasonal memories
  • Poetry and paintings about the family farm
  • People important to our youth on the farm

You need not be writing about a farm, simply about your childhood home or homes, the village where you grew up, the school you attended, friends you remember.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Developing a Family Farm History Booklet

I've developed a farm history booklet for my husband's home where he grew up.  I got the idea from some articles my mother-in-law wrote about life on the farm as the eight boys were growing up.  She wrote them just for memories.  However, a friend suggested she send them to the local newspaper which had a memories section.  The paper published the articles in eight segments.

Her friend Ginny cut the articles out, made photocopies, then put them into a booklet for Mum to give each family for Christmas.  Over the years, all the families except my husband and me (I'm a packrat when it comes to family memorabilia!) had lost or mislaid the booklets.

So I decided to make copies, add a history of the farm given to Mum by former owners,  and include photos of the farm.  I discovered they were very popular among Mum's children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends.  So I need to make more in which I'll also include copies of two paintings I've done of the farm.

My Own Childhood Farm

"Why don't you make a booklet of the farm where you grew up?" a distant cousin asked.   "I'd like a copy."

So now I'm digging out from my files my parents' reminiscences (I got them to write down some of their memories before they passed away) and old deeds which record my dad's purchase of the farm and deeds of former owners.   I'll include some articles and poems I've written about the farm, along with photos and the copy of a painting I've done.  My sister also has made sketches of the family farm.

Record Your Memories

Record your memories of growing up on a farm or your current experiences there for children, grandchildren and their descendants.  It's an enjoyable project.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Baby Chicks in the Mail

Baby chicks in the mail!  These fluffy yellow peeps came in a sturdy cardboard box separated into 4 sections.  Father picked them up at the local post office, where they arrived from the chick supplier.

This was an exciting time as we placed them in a larger containment in the brooder house, under a hood with heating lights.  However, if it was too cold outside, my parents might place them in a large container in our farmhouse kitchen untill the weather changer.

I didn't realize this practice (baby chicks in the mail) still existed.  However, on a stop at our local post office in spring, I heard a peeping sound.  I inquired and discovered, YES, baby chick still arrived in the mail.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do You Remember Aprons?

Even though I don't wear aprons much anymore, I think about those of yesteryear. Or I see pretty ones in a store or magazine. Perhaps someone has transformed an apron into another wearable item, utilizing the fabric in a unique way. Then memories of aprons surface.

In days ago, a cook wouldn't think of being seen in the kitchen without her apron. Mother had a number of these. Some were the old-fashioned, full bib ones that covered her from chest to skirt hem. Others tied around the waist and covered her skirt.

I recall both grandmothers always wearing the full coverage aprons to keep their dresses clean. Yes, they always wore dresses, never slacks.

Then when Mother or my grandmothers entertained guests, they wore aprons of finer fabric. These also might have embroidery on the hems and pockets.

Why Did Women Wear Aprons?

Traditionally ladies wore aprons to cover their dresses when working at home. In days before electricity and modern washing machines, it was very time consuming to wash clothes. So the longer one could wear a dress, the easier it was.

Also, clothing often was expensive, so an apron helped give longer wear. Young girls and their mothers wore aprons. Sometimes they had matching ones.

However, as washing methods became easier and clothing less expensive, aprons saw less use. Slacks and dungarees (jeans) became common apparel rather than dresses around the home.

Bib Aprons Had Many Uses:

*Obviously, they helped keep a lady's house dress clean.

*They often served as a towel for drying her hands.

*The homemaker used the apron for wiping her face when hot from cooking over the woodstove or doing housework.

They Had Many Other Uses:

*Aprons came in handy for carrying vegetables from the garden or fruit from the trees.

*They could be flapped to chase the dog, cats or chickens from the farmhouse door..

*If a potholder wasn't handy, a lady might use her apron for holding a pan handle.

*If a piece of furniture needed a quick swipe to remove dust, the apron came in handy.

*Aprons were good for wiping children's tears and wrapping around shoulders when a child was chilly or needed a hug.

*If you were careful, you could carry eggs in the apron from hen house to the kitchen.

Pockets in Aprons Were Useful, too:

*Of course, you could tuck a handkerchief there.

*If you were working outside, you might carry a snack in your pocket.

*This was a place for storing children's treasures (stones, feathers, odd pieces of wood) picked up on a walk.

*In a pocket, you might find extra bobby pins, safety pins, a bit of string - odds and ends you might need throughout the day.

(c)Mary Emma Allen

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Forsythia for Memories

When the forsythia bush in our yard blooms brightly, nostalgic memories of my childhood, as well as building this home, come to mind. Both are connected because the flowers bloom from the same parent bush.
After my family and I built and moved into this New Hampshire home, my dad decided we needed forsythia from the farm where I’d grown up in the Hudson River Valley of New York State. He dug up shoots of forsythia to plant here. We even have photos of Father and Jim planting this bush 27 years ago.

Forsythia of Childhood

I relate to my daughter and grandchildren tales about the forsythia of my childhood, from which our bush originated. That original bush was located at the end of the wrap-around front porch of our farmhouse. It grew very large and generally had many blooms. Mother often brought branches inside to brighten the house.

When my parents moved to a smaller house across the highway, Father transplanted some of the forsythia to that front yard. It must have been a hearty bush for it did well there, too, providing bright spring color.

At one time, we thought the transplant to NH wasn’t going to survive. So our daughter and her husband bought another forsythia for me one Mother’s Day. This, too, grew into a large bush and has many bright yellow blooms this year.

Forsythia Evokes Memories

Forsythia was’t my favorite flower, although I’ve always enjoyed the spots of sunshine it presented around the countryside in spring. However, because of the memories these bushes evoke in my present yard, it has much more meaning nowadays than exotic or expensive flowers.

Do you have favorite flowers that bring back memories? Is there a flower of significance in your life that will create memories for future generations?

“Why not make an album of favorite flowers and write down your memories?” a friend suggested. That’s a thought that has me looking through my scrapbooking supplies to create a floral memory album.

( image)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Our Hired Man & St. Patrick's Day

Dan Sullivan, the hired man on our farm during our childhood, became a surrogate grandfather to us children.  He was older than Father, but a very hard worker, and patient with us children.  He also was a storyteller and would regale us with tales of his days working for the railroad in his younger years.

Dan, of course, was Irish, so always recognized St. Patrick's Day.  Since Dan ate all of his meals with us, but boarded with a neighboring family, Mother prepared a festive dinner and supper for this holiday.  Often she had a boiled dinner...corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions.  We might have it cold for supper with the addition of corn bread.

Also, we always looked for Dan's "wearing of the green."  He dressed as usually in overalls and blue work shirt, with his striped blue and white railroad type cap.  But....pinned to the front of the cap was a small green bow.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Riding the Snow Plow

Snow storms on the farm, meant clearing the driveway to the barn so the milk truck could get through.  Father also made a path to the chicken house behind the barn, so we'd easily get there to feed the chickens and collect the eggs.  He often plowed across the front lawn.  I'm not sure why, because we never drove the car up there.  But it was his custom.

We didn't have snow blowers or small tractor powered snow plows.  Father made a large V shaped contrivance from wood with pieces across to hold it together.  Initially a chain from the point of the V was hooked behind the horses who pulled it to clear pathways.  When Father got a tractor, he pulled the plow with it.

What fun we had sitting on the cross pieces as Father made the rounds of the farm.  Our weight helped hold the plow down so he could make a deeper impression with the plowing.  Somewhere I have photos Mother took of us children on the snow plow.

Of course, we had to hand shovel paths to the wood house, to the plowed driveway, down the front walkway.  There was a lot of shoveling and plowing on the farm, but I don't recall any of us complaining.  Perhaps we did, but generally we knew we wouldn't get out of the work, so sputtering about it did no good. 

The sooner we got the shoveling done, the sooner we could make a snowman!