The road out to Little Oak Lane led up and over a long, gently sloping hill. On its right not far from the yard was a small orchard with apples, peaches, plums and somewhere were cherries -both white and the sour red ones. Left of the road were fields that wrapped around three sides of the house and adjoined the Ed Biebel farm which had also been inherited from Michael and Christine Miller as had Nick Biebel's across the road. (Or perhaps it was bought later, Im not sure.)
Wire fencing around our yard enclosed tall oaks spaced far enough apart to allow luscious bluegrass to grow tall, with no thought of ever being mowed.Near the front porch a few clusters of daffodils poked through, making things convenient for the Easter Rabbit. The brightly colored eggs, especially the deep, deep purple, were gorgeous nestled in their dark green leaves and in the long grass. Never could I forget.
Over near the barn, the yard fence had an over-size gate large enough to allow a wagon through, which could swing far out for a good ride. There was also a regular rope swing with board seat hanging from one of the oaks. I managed very happily with nary a battery toy, Barbie doll or TV. Just didnt know any better, I guess. To lie in the cool grass and watch the clouds or rake leaves into rooms for a playhouse or pick clover for a garland seemed fine occupations. And then sometimes Daddy would harness Billy the goat to a real little green farm wagon. It had side-boards and a spring seat and I could grandly chauffeur Buddy down the lane. When I was quite small Dad would saddle my pony and hold me on for an exciting ride. Later I could saddle the pony myself and jaunt all around the farm; at threshing time I greatly enjoyed the heavy responsibility of carrying jugs of water to the men in the fields.
Threshing time! How exciting it was! Very early in the morning all the neighboring men and their hired hands would begin arriving with their teams and wagons. Then Bill Knobelochs big, noisy threshing machine would come puffing and loudly chug-chugging over the hill and set up to the left of the barn just off the road. Out in the hot and dusty fields the men would be pitch-forking bundles of wheat from the shocks, piling them high on the wagons. They drove to the thresher and again pitched the heavy bundles. With a great deal of noise and dust the straw would be separated from the grain and blown from a long pipe to make a big stack. The grain poured from a smaller pipe into bags which were hand-tied with twine and loaded onto a wagon, or it was simply run into a wagon and hauled to the old barn for storing. I think some straw was run through the baler and stored in the barn but the big stack was there for kids to climb on, slide down and hide in. It was also used for strawing the fields of potatoes and as bedding for livestock in the barn.
And oh! The food! There were wonderful treats never seen at other times of the year. Boloney - as we called it - summer sausage and bought white bread! To this day one whiff of baloney and Im right back in threshing time. It was many years before I understood why my mother didnt love threshing time.
Our family was alone in eating only three meals a day. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon lunches were traditional on other farms so of course we must provide equal (or better) fare. Before dawn all the women in their high necked, long sleeved, floor length dresses, wearing many petticoats and tight, stiff corsets were at work in the steamy kitchen making a mountain of coffee cakes and dozens of luscious pies of many kinds. Out under the tall oaks, long makeshift tables and benches were set with jams, jellies, pickles, lunch meats, loaves of bread, gallons of coffee and the fragrant bakery. As the men came in they washed hands and faces, bent over granite basins of water which were occasionally dumped out and refilled.
Can you imagine all the dish washing? There were no paper plates, styrofoam cups, plastic forks - or dishwashers. The job could barely be finished in time to fix dinner, and later, supper unless they finished early. But often they were back for at least part of the next day which meant another meal or two. Yes, threshing time was delightful for me but strenuous for grown-ups. No wonder they could eat enormous pre-dawn breakfasts of sausage, fried potatoes and eggs, plus all the usual breads, jellies, biscuits and trimmings - without becoming obese. And none of this was done by hopping to the supermarket (there were none) and loading up baskets of ready made food.
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