Fall - Chores and Work
"We always had lots of chores and even as a small kid, growing up, we had to take our to turn…We had chickens, we had hogs, and we had cattle, both dairy cattle and regular cattle. Lots of horses because we farmed with horses." -- Hollis Miller (Quicktime required)
Merna Bailey remembers her chores.
"As girls we didn't have to do anything in the morning before school…But at night, fill the cob baskets, several cob baskets. And it wasn't too bad when we had nice corncobs in the corncrib, but when they were gone, we had to go to the hog pen and pick up the hog pen cobs. That wasn't too much fun…We helped to feed the chickens, gather the eggs... The corn they picked by hand with wagons, the team pulling the wagon…My dad…was a good corn picker… I sometimes went out…so I learned to use the peg." -- Merna Bailey (Quicktime required)
Preserving food for winter
Walter Schmitt remembers their big garden and many fruit trees. "Mother canned a lot of cherries. We had a couple apple trees and…currant bushes, blueberry bushes. We did raise a lot of food of our own. We raised a lot of potatoes. We had a big garden."
Ruth Nettleton said their orchard had many trees, too. "I suppose six or eight different kinds of apples. And there were plums and there were cherries, and there were grapes. Mother canned a lot. After I was married I planned to can a hundred quarts of apples and a hundred quarts of tomatoes." She also pickled beets by boiling them and putting them in a vinegar solution to preserve them.
The Whole Hog
Farm families used every part of the hog. Some meat from hogs was smoked or cured with salt (bacon, salt pork, and ham). Meat had to be cured or preserved because most farms did not have electricity to run refrigerators. Even the fat from the hog [lard] was used to make soap.
"You saved everything in those days … saved the liver. You made the liverwurst [sausage]… We had a lot of sausage and hams, cured our own hams … Even when we butchered…we had other couples come over or some of my aunts and uncles would come over, and you'd kind of divide up a little bit when you went home." --Dean Buller (Quicktime required)
First the hog was killed, then dipped in a barrel of hot water to help remove the hair. The skin was scraped over and over to remove all the hair. Then the hog carcass was cut in pieces: some for smoking and salt curing, some to be ground up for sausage.
"We had a regular little building for a smokehouse. Made a fire underneath…a fire that wouldn't burn, just smoke. Apple wood would be the best bark to use for to give it a flavor… And the hams, we cut, made hams and we salted them. The night of when we butchered we'd salt the hams and the hind hams…and you'd be sure and put that full of salt [so it wouldn't spoil]." -- Albert Friesen (Quicktime required)
Recipe: How to Make Soap
Sometimes Merna Bailey's family asks her for recipes. Even though she knows people don't make their own soap anymore, she is happy to share her recipe:
"Accumulations of lard and fat from various butcherings plus bacon grease and the lye would be poured into a big stone jar. Using one can of lye, two and a half pints of cold water, mix to six pounds of fat, lard and what combination. The lye solution is poured slowly. At the end steady stream and even stirring, continuing to stir with a wooden spoon until it can stand on its own. Leave for 24 hours and then cut…into bars to dry and spread out. I felt so proud, good and proud when I looked at those big chunks of soap…Using the lye could be dangerous." -- Merna Bailey (Quicktime required)