This post is a continuation of a recent post titled “Born and Raised on a Farm in The 1950’s” posted Wednesday March 11/020.
I remember my father selling our two work horses Mack & Jerry and bringing home the ‘new’ used Case tractor from the Carl Curtis Farm Equipment dealer in Baltimore in the early 1950’s, I was only about three years old at that time but how I loved that old tractor. A few years later I actually got to drive (or steer it) during the haying season. My dad would put it in motion, in first gear while he and my brothers loaded the round bales of hay onto a wagon I would steer the tractor to where it had to go. Dad would then climb aboard the Case with me sitting on its fender for the trip to the barn. Thank goodness he was now driving as we had to travel down a steep gully and across a stream, with a loaded hay wagon that was very top heavy, I always had visions of it rolling over when crossing that stream!
On reaching the barn, we would drive the Case and the loaded hay wagon right into the upper floor of the barn, it took skill to back a wagon here. On off-loading the hay bales onto a portable ‘elevator’ up into the hay mow, we would then disconnect the wagon and push it out of the barn by hand and back the tractor out. Speaking of hay, my dad would cut it with the ‘hay mower’, it’s ‘tongue’ now greatly shortened for use by the tractor, not horses. The hay had to be dried in the field for a day or two at which time he rake it into furrows with a ‘Dump’ rake and would hire a local farmer to bale it. This type of rake was operated from a seat on the rake which had many ‘c’ shaped prongs between two large metal wheels and when it was full of hay, the operator would press a lever with his foot which would raise the prongs leaving the hay in a neat furrow for neighbour to bale for us.
The ‘Rebel’ gets himself in trouble again! I, without permission drove the old case to the nearby Lean farm as their John Deere had broken down and they needed motive power to run an old, hulking thrasher for their wheat harvest. Of course after a short time, the old Case, too under powered to handle the job, broke down and I limped it home in first gear and parked it in the drive shed, neglecting to tell my father. I can’t say how long my dad spent repairing the tractor’s transmission. As we raised a few hogs and cattle for meat for the freezer and an income we had to grow some crops other than hay. We always planted a few acres of wheat and oats. The fields had to be plowed in the late Summer followed by ‘cultivating’ several times to break up the sods, followed by ‘harrowing’ a few times to remove the grass and roots.
The following Spring we would break up the soil by ‘cultivating’ and harrowing again. Now it was planting time again. Planting was was accomplished by loading the newly cleaned seeds and fertilizer into a ‘disc-seeder’ which fed the seeds through flexible pipes into the soil. The soil was then compacted by a ‘roller’ to prevent the seeds from being eaten by birds or washed away in the Spring rains. We would hire a neighbour to harvest the grains, the ‘harvester’ (and balers) were to expensive to own for most small farmers. We would collect the harvester’s grains loaded into burlap bags on the farm wagon and transport them to the barn for storage in the granary, this was my job for years. I remember reading (and dreaming) of the new cars and hot rod magazines on the wagon waiting for the next harvester’s load to be brought to the wagon.
The grain harvester’s (combine) waste was blown out onto the ground. As it had no nutritional value for livestock, it was raked and baled and used for use as animal bedding. This bedding was used in stables and when mixed with livestock waste (or manure) it was dumped into a huge pile outside the barn where it naturally composted. After a year or so it was forked into the ‘manure spreader’ for crop fertilizer and the process was repeated year after year. The worst work on the farm was milking the cows. We usually had from eight to twelve of these manure generators. The cows would have to be milked in the early morning and in the evening, first you had to find the critters and bring them into the barn. Most would think of them as ‘dumb’ animals, but among several double stalls they new exactly which one was theirs where they were chained for milking. They were fed from the manger with some hay and ‘chop’ to keep them calm, this was ground up wheat. One of my favourite memories as a young lad was driving the old Case all the way to Pratt’s Mill in Cobourg for grinding, no driver’s licence needed on the highway for farm vehicles! Cows had to be milked facing their left side only, this was done by sitting on a short milk stool with a galvanized pail.
Milking a cow was not fun! First, you had contend with their flailing tails, their natural flyswatters, which could be rather painful! Some times you were ‘rewarded’ by having them place a foot into the milk can or onto your foot, both very frustrating! The milk now had to run through a ‘separator’ which is a centrifugal devise that separates milk into cream and skimmed milk using a rapidly revolving bowl with a set of disks inside. Most of the milk was now used to feed calves and pigs. The family always drank whole milk which had the benefit when fresh from the cow of a ‘froth’ still warm for the breakfast cereal! I, until this day, still cannot drink pasteurized grocer grocery store milk unless it is chocolate flavoured! The cream was then sent to the Harwood Creamery were it earned us a small income and a few pounds of fresh butter which showed up the next month.
We had an apple orchard with a variety of apples, my favourite was the ‘Talman or Tomi’ Sweet’ somewhat small but the first to ripen in the Fall. We also had a couple of cherry tees as well as a pear tree. Building a tee-pee in the orchard from cedar saplings covered with burlap grain bags was a great memory as well.
Of course, we had the mandatory vegetable garden, we had to have a huge garden to to feed such a large family. My father would prepare the ground and mother would plant the seeds but us children were elected to do the weeding, hoeing and harvesting, I hated hoeing and have never had my own vegetable garden since! In the Fall mother would preserve carrots by placing the whole plant in a ‘sandbox’ in the basement where they would keep all winter long. We always had plenty of potatoes, tomatoes, cukecumbers, green and Spanish onions, beans, watermelon, turnips and strawberries. The garden location would be moved every few years to keep the ground fertile. My mother would preserve almost anything in Mason jars.
In the teen years, we still had fun on the farm. My brother Bill towed home an old buckboard from who knows where. He, my brother Ron and I would drag that old relic up to the top of ‘Toenail Hill’ and one of us would be a ‘lookout’ at the bottom watching out for cars on what was then called Mill Street (now Albert’s Alley). We would roar down that steep hill, coast to a stop on Lean Road (now Doyle Road) and then do it again. Bill and some friends created a new, larger and permanent swimming pool by diverting some water from the stream into a small valley nearby. Never had to worry about the old sod dams washing out any more. Soon after, the Camborne Village Ski Club had opened and for a time I had a chance to run the original ‘rope tow’. The Doyle’s created many jobs for the local kids.
By the 1970’s my father had passed away, I had married and moved away. After a hundred years, the farm was sold and the land grows farm crops no more. An era ended with a large subdivision. But I still have many fond memories of living on the farm.