This is my Grandpa on his 100 acre farm. He died when I was just a baby. I wish I could have known him.
I can only imagine what he is thinking here, as he is looking over his tobacco crop. Wondering whether he could make a profit or if the worms were going to be a problem. Maybe that year was a bumper crop, or a dry summer with poor yields.
My father is the youngest of eight, the little guy in front. I have asked him about his farm life. Some things I already knew, some stories I had never heard before. I thought I would share with you a part of his way of life.
Grandpa would say that if the tobacco was taller than he was, it was a good year. Grandpa wasn’t short, at around 6’2″, so this photo was probably taken to show off his bumper crop!
At a young age, my father plowed the fields, first, with a team of horses.
One stormy day in the 1950’s, their horse was struck by lightening, and being brothers and emotional creatures, the other horse went a little crazy and got himself tangled in the barbed wire fence, dying of tetanus. Thus, a tractor was then used.
Grandma died when I was only five. I do not remember much about her, but I know that she was pleasant and happy, as is evident in this photo. Notice the canned goods and egg cartons. It kind of looks like my utility room! She took care of the chickens, and traded her eggs for groceries. Her daughter and son-in-law opened up a hatchery, so she eventually sold her fertile eggs to them and made twice as much money!
She milked the cows with my father and sold the cream to a local creamery. She also made butter and cottage cheese. A hard working lady needs a little break, so she participated in certain quilting clubs.
Their meat supply consisted solely of pork, which they raised themselves. Believe it or not, my father did not have electricity until he was 12 years old! Without any freezers or refrigerator, most of the meat had to be canned.
A cistern was used to collect water runoff from their house. This was their water supply, along with a spring a couple thousand feet away. The spring was used mostly for a cooler. Later, after WWII, my father helped run electricity through their house. He tells me that their utility bill was $2.50 a month! My Grandpa dug a trench all the way to the spring, no easy task, and pumped water from the spring to the house. I can only imagine how delighted Grandma must have been to have running water!
My Grandpa had various jobs off of the farm. He was a political man, helping with voting day, hauling people to and from to vote. He also hauled kids to school with his horse and buggy. His main job was building county roads and then state highways. He did make money with his tobacco, but my Dad tells me it was a lot of work! He also grew wheat to sell. Everything else they grew, such as corn, oats and hay, they used for their livestock feed.
This is the house that my Grandma grew up in. It is still standing and lived in today. I would love to have seen the inside!
This is my Grandpa and Grandma with my two oldest aunts. A handsome young couple!
I asked my Dad what his likes and dislikes were growing up on the farm. He didn’t like all of the work that had to be done, but he didn’t realize until later that, because of this, he and his siblings developed a good work ethic that helped them in their adult life.
He did enjoy some chores, such as milking the cows. He also remembers going fishing quite a bit. Sometimes, when they were supposed to be clearing debris from the fence, they would take off and go fishing. His dad wouldn’t get angry if they came back with some fish!
Being together as a family was a good memory for my Dad. They enjoyed each other’s company.
My Grandpa was blind the last few years of his life. He didn’t let that slow him down, though! My mother would tell me often, that after I was born, some of her family gave her a hard time for having “yet another girl”, as I was their fourth daughter! But, upon visiting Grandpa, he held me in his arms, and felt of me, saying to my Mom, “That’s a fine baby! A fine baby!” Of course, that made my mother’s day!