The Farm Buildings
This article is taken
from the January 2008 Tales & Trails
Of the many farm buildings on our farm, the barn had the most activity. The front of the barn to the west had a large sliding door so the horses could easily enter and exit. There were six stalls to accommodate six horses; each stall had a manger for the hay and a box for grain. There was also room in the stalls for a person to walk between the horses to remove their harnesses. There were four stalls to the north and two to the south. The area on the south where there were no stalls was used to hang the harness and store various things. There was, also, a stair there that led up to the hay loft and the upper level. The horse stalls occupied the biggest part of the barn, but there was also an area to the east for cows to be milked. Here they were put in stanchions. This was used only in winter, as in summer we milked the cows outside in the corral. Our cows all had names and were of a gentle nature, so it was no problem to milk them outside. In that area of the barn, also, in the southeast corner was a space for calves when they were weaned from their mothers. Here they would bawl and their mothers outside would belier back.
The hayloft held the hay of course, which was elevated up to the loft with a rope sling. A big door on the south end of the loft was dropped open, and a trolley in the top of the barn came out and down to the ground. The hay was put on the trolley and ropes were attached. Two horses pulled the cable and the hay was lifted, swung into the barn and released. Several loads of hay were brought before the big door was closed. This was feed for the horses and cows. Above the mangers, in the floor of the upper level of the barn, square holes were cut, so all one had to do was poke the hay down to the animals. Sometimes a mother cat would decide to have her kittens in the hayloft, which was a good place and a secret place. Unfortunately, when the kittens began to run around and play, they sometimes fell through the holes over the manger and then walked out where the cows or horses stood and were accidentally trampled. Upstairs to the east where the roof tapered, were two rooms for grain to be stored, usually oats, as that was what the horses were fed. Sometimes ear corn was fed to the horses. I loved the hayloft. It smelled so good and was so big, especially in a child’s eyes.
The barn always had barn swallows that came in the spring and made their mud nests on the 2 x 4’s in the ceiling of the barn. Our parents told Loren and I never to bother them or destroy the nests “or the barn would burn down”. It was their way of keeping us from harming them. We always respected all the animals and fowl on the farm. Each life was precious.
I played “cowboy” in the barn. The partitions that made up the stalls for the cows were wide heavy boards and those were my make-believe horses in the summer. The area was clean as it was not used in the summer and I had the door to the south left open while I played.
Another building on the farm was the wash-house. So named because this is where mother washed her clothes, winter and summer. She had an engine powered wash machine, and Monday was her wash day. It was close to the windmill so water was close, although she often carried soft water from the cistern for her wash. The wash-house had a little stove which had to filled with cobs and wood. The fire was built to heat the water for the wash. Mother would sweep the floor and lay her clothes out in piles. She would wash them and hang them out to dry. How white the whites and bright the colors with her own home-made soap. My mother actually loved work and did everything with a light happy heart. Her work habits and attitude have always been an inspiration to me. The little wash-house was also used to separate the milk from the cream. A “separator” stood to the west side and each day morning and night it was used. After each time the bowl on top was taken into the house to be washed, with all the little metal discs that separated the milk from the cream. This was quite a chore in itself and keep in mind that flies were attracted to a building that held milk products. The separator had a crank that was turned by hand. The skim milk was sometimes put into large crocks to sour and later fed to chickens, ducks and pigs. Sometimes it was fed fresh to the pigs. Of course, the cats were always waiting beside their little pan. Milk for drinking and the cream went to the house and in the summer the cream was carried into the basement where it was cool and later taken to town to sell
On the farm we had chickens. We had a large chicken house with two large rooms, with a wall and door in between. It had windows to the south for sunshine to warm it in the winter. This house was for the laying hens, usually a large tan chicken named “Bufforpingtons”. Mother, also, raised Leghorns, a white smaller hen known for it’s laying production. The Leghorns were a nervous, excitable breed, but the Buffs were quiet and docile. At one time, we had two chicken houses. We had one behind the garage where mother housed her Leghorns only. It was smaller. There was, also, the brooder house. This is where the baby chicks got their start. It also had the south side in windows and it had a brooder stove, which was run by oil and was kept going when the chickens were little. After they developed into young feathered roosters and hens, they were carried manually a few at a time to the big hen house. This was done at night when they were easy to catch. It always took all four of us to carry them. Mother raised several hundred chickens each year. We ate them daily in the summer when the roosters were young. We had eggs to eat and sell. Eggs were cheap in the thirties, not bringing in much money, but it bought our few groceries. Sometimes a few chickens were sold, four or six, and this was extra cash for a pair of shoes or some other needed expenditure. To me then it was all taken for granted, but as I look back on it now, it was my parents way of making ends meet during the 30’s. The so-called depression. We were better off than a lot of people. We always had enough to eat.
Other buildings on the farm were the two granaries, both moved from my grandparent’s Kubes farm after they died in 1933 and 1934, as was our second chicken house behind the garage. A second barn also was moved. It was smaller than the first one, but with a hayloft. It was used primarily for young calves, and for storage. It was not moved as a building, but taken down and rebuilt. Mom, Dad, Loren, and I took it down and then dad rebuilt it with Loren’s help.
We had an outdoor toilet as there was no plumbing in the house. The one from my grandfather’s farm was also brought over. Dad took out the seat and just put a floor in it and it became my playhouse for a time. Then it became a little chicken coop for my one hen and her brood of chickens that I was allowed to raise each summer for my own money. Still later, in about 1940, it was moved to stand in front of the windmill, and a small tank put inside to catch the cold freshly pumped water and then from that it ran into the larger tank outside. The milk was put in the coldest tank to cool. Five gallon metal cans of milk were cooled there from the evening milking. This was after we quit separating the milk and a milk truck came daily to pick it up. The truck arrived between 4:30 and 6:00 a.m. We had to be up at 4:30 a.m. to have the cows milked and the milk ready to go. My mother seldom swore, but when she heard that truck coming around the jog too early, she had a few words to say. I helped with the milking morning and night and when the check came every two weeks, Mother gave me $15.00. I felt very rich and it was used to buy some article of clothing I might want, as I was about 13 years old by then. We also kept RC Cola in bottles in the tank, and they were good and cold when we came home from the fields. A real treat.
We had a smoke house made of bricks where Dad smoked bacon and hams when we butchered a hog in the winter. He also made a baloney that was very good.
When Loren was 12 or thirteen, he wanted to raise rabbits, so Dad and Loren built a rabbit hutch. It was big enough so several people could walk in. It had room for several rabbits, and there were several units. Each doe had a place to eat and move around freely, and then there was an enclosed compartment for her to have her babies, but that place could be opened so we could see her little ones. The building was opened to the east and screened in there, so it never had an unpleasant odor. We all enjoyed the rabbits, they were so pretty, some spotted and some pure white. We ate fried rabbit sometimes. I don’t think Loren made any profit on them, but it was a fun project and company always had to see them.
We had a garage for our 1928 Chevrolet. The only car we had. Dad bought it new in Emerald NE from Mr. Volstead. I think the price was around $400.00. He always took it back there for repairs, which weren’t many. He drove very slowly, 25 to 35 miles per hour. The garage was wide enough that dad had a workbench to the west and a shelf to the east where much stuff was kept. Our bicycles sat against the east wall. It had only one window to the back (north) so the doors were kept open. Each opened to one side. The garage was used almost daily and everything was then accessible.
One time the garage was used for another purpose than housing the car. This was when the folks butchered. I never helped much with this, but on cold days the pig, after it was shot was put in the wooden vat to be scalded and scraped, and the garage was used for shelter. The garage had only a dirt floor. I have memories of that old wooden vat. It was quite large, and in the summer, as a child. I put boards across the top. I would leave an open space at one end so I could crawl into it. It was my boat. I sat on some make shift stool on top of the boards to drive and guide my boat, and then crawled into the bottom for lodging, all while the vat sat on dry ground in the hot sun. What imaginations we have as children, I can’t remember every being bored.
Another of my games, and Loren did this too, was our stick horses. We rode them all over the farm. Dad had drilled a hole in the end of mine and I had a piece of twine through it for the rein.Mom and Dad usually laid down and rested after our noon meal. Loren and I would go outside and there were two barrels of sand on the east side of the red granary. By noon or after, they were shaded from the sun so we would play there. We used stones for our horses and cows. We could till the sand. We spent many an hour playing there.