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Kountry Life Memories

Early 1900s Telling
Tales of the early 1900's

I was born on this farm 12 FEB 1909. Father farmed the land and worked at grandfather's creamery.

When my father took over the farm it needed lots of improving, tiling, fencing, barns and sheds. And much removal of trees before breaking the soil for cultivation. I remember well the sod breaking operation. this took a number of years. It was done with 5 horses on a 12 inch ? molboard plow. The plow had a large wooden beam.

It also had a standing cutter which angled back from the point of the plow and bolted to the beam. This was kept real sharp to cut small roots and such. An ax and spade was carried at all times to chop large roots and dig rocks. This operation was done by two men, one to drive the horses and one to operate the plow.

As I grew older I was given many chores to do. The horses, cattle, sheep, chickens, ducks and geese had to be cared for (feed & water).

We also had lots of manure to haul and wood to split. Another project was getting wood to burn from the timber. This was usually hauled in long poles by the team and wagon and put in large pile. Later it was sawed to proper length with the large saw and gasoline motor. The neighbors cooperated in this operation 5 or 6 men.

My father kept 9 - 15 milk cows. He had a hired man part time when the work load was heavy. The cremery burned when I was a small boy. It was not rebuilt.

HWC comment- A microfilm copy of 1912 newspaper braggs about the big business the creamery was doing- made over 250,000 pounds of butter and paid out over 66,000 to farmers in last year. There was a 2nd fire and it was not rebuilt, but have no idea why. Something in ths may tell when/why Fred moved to Oregon.

After that the milk was put in 10 gal cans and shipped by electric trolley car to a city creamery every morning. In later years a trucker came to farm and picked it up and hauled it each morning.

I attended rural one room school until I finished 8 grade.

Our mode of travel until 1920? was by team and wagon or more often horse and buggy. These buggies were equiped with top and side curtains. In cold weather a robe was used for comfort for occupants. Also one for horse when ties up.

I did quite a bit of hunting in the fall and winter. There were quite a few squirrels and rabbits.

When I entered Hi school I made a lot of new friends. My athletic ability was fair to poor. I played some football. This left a lot to be desired. Also I weighed 110 - 115 lbs as a senior. However I was tolerated as they were short of men for scrimmage.

We still farmed with horses. The oats were cut and shocked in the field. Four horses hitched to 8 ft binder. The hay was cut with 2 horses and 5 foot mower. It was raked and bunched when cured and was pitched by hand onto the hay rack.

The hay was put in barn with a large forked device on a rope that ran through the barn next to the peak of the roof. This was hoisted up by a horse on far end of rope, with another small rope the man on load could pull and dump the bunch of hay hanging on the fork where/when desired. Sometimes the hay was stacked in field and hauled in later.

The corn was picked by hand. Team and wagon 3 or 4 more boards on one side than the other. The corn was thrown against these boards and fell straight down in the wagon.

HWC comment- Get any ideas about where basketball came from?

There were various tools to wear on your hand to get the corn out of husks. Pegs, hooks several kinds you could purchase. This was pretty hard work as the ears were not at uniform height and lots on the ground. When Hi bred Corn was introduced some of these problems were solved.

Manure hauling was another major project. There were two reasons for this. Number one to keep the barns, sheds and lots free of standing water and flies. Second this was a major source of fertilizer at that time. Practically all loading was done by hand. The first experience with one I had was maybe 1940. The desirable time for manure hauling was late summer or early fall. Spring was often to wet to get into the fields. Often manure was put on the ground where oats were taken off.

The first tractor we owned was bought in 1938? A McCormick Deering. It had 4 steel wheels 2 on each side in tandem. It could not be used on row crops as known today. It was used on quite a few jobs however, discing, plowing, hauling and such. It was bought second hand and cost 600. HWC comment- Have an old photo of this one. Think it is a 10-20.

One of the implements hauled was a 2 row corn picker. It was necessary to pick 4 rows by hand before using this picker, to 'open up the field'.

Threshing grain was also a major project, oats, wheat, barley, rye were the principal crops. The equipment consisted of steam engine, fired by coal or wood, water wagon and separator. The steam engine furnished the power to the separator by a long flat belt 8' to 10' wide and 50 to 60 feet long.

The bundles of grain were fed into the separator. The separator knocked the grain from the straw, a series of screens and blowers made the grain come out one spout into a waiting wagon. The straw and chaff was blown out the rear end into a pile.

The water wagon was also quite necessary. It was filled by a hand pump mounted mounted on the top. The water was also pumped by hand into a supply tank on the engine. This tank held 500 gal? and was pulled from place to place by horses.

Going back... A machine called a binder was used to cut small grain. The sickle was mounted in front. As the machine was pulled along a series of wide canvas belts conveyed the grain to where they were bound into bundles 6' - 8' in diameter. These bundles were carried in piles to be shocked and cured, i.e. the heads upward. After the grain was dried to proper moisture men with hay racks and horses hauled the bundles to the separator.

A similar machine was used to cut corn and bundle it. The difference was the corn went through the machine in an upright position.

In earlier times before 1910? the small grain was stacked. The bundles were hauled and placed where the threshing was to be done. The bundles were placed in a circle 10' - 20' in diameter. All the bundles were placed heads in to the center. These stacks might be 20' high and domed at the top. If properly done the bundles could stay like this with no spoilage.

A different operation was a corn shredder. the bundles of corn were shocked similar to small grain. Later hauled in and run thru the shredder. The ears of corn came out one spout. The shelled corn another and stocks and shucks were blown out the rear end of the machine into the barn or a pile and used for live stock feed. These stocks, shucks, leaves was called fodder.

HWC comments- The notes this much edited copy is taken from are dated 20 OCT 1978 and were written by my father. Reading thru it I get a feeling that was the start date and it was written over several months. I say that because he put in several comments about 1979. Keep in mind that cancer finally killed him on 17 FEB 1979 and he was in pretty bad shape for a while before that. This was one of his farewell messages.

12 FEB 2000, H. W. Calonkey

H. W. Calonkey, from IA, entered 2000-02-13

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