Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Add to My MSN

Life on the Farm During the ’50s and ’60s

9/14/2011 11:12:07 AM

Tags: farming, roosters, blackberries, turtles

Country FrogThis story is from Carolyn Ringo, submitted as part of our Wisdom From Our Elders collection of self-sufficient tales from yesteryear. 

We had a few people from “the city” see our “Eggs for Sale” sign and drive out to the farm. My father had a pet rooster and he would say “Sick ‘em Cockeye,” to keep the people in the car until he had a chance to check them out. The rooster would make himself large and keep them from opening the door. When they tried the other door Cockeye would hop over the car and threaten them on that side. He did once attack someone who threatened my brother. Roosters can make fierce claw marks on a person’s back.

We also had a pet chicken we told mom we would never eat. She said we’d never know when we were eating it because it would just be one out of the freezer. That turned out to be true. Mom would periodically have to wring a chicken’s neck with the broom handle and wait for it to stop flopping around the yard to dress it.

We had 80 acres of woodland, a river and two ponds behind the farm. Dad hunted squirrel, rabbits and, on occasion, deer for the dinner table. We caught fish from the river by seining for crawdads to use for bait when it was too dry to pick up earthworms. We picked wild blackberries, raspberries, and gooseberries from the forest for pies and freezing. I remember having a bucket tied around my neck and coming home all scratched up and eaten by mosquitoes, but happy for having seen the fawn, bunnies and pretty snakes.

My brother and I used to catch frogs by hand. Dad caught male and female frog specimens from 200 hundred miles south of our farm and put them in our pond. After that we had much larger frogs! I loved to eat frog legs, but every time any killing had to be done, I would hide my head under the pillow in my bed until I was called to come help clean whatever we had caught or were butchering that day. However, I did help my dad butcher many snapping turtles every summer. Mom made the best fried turtle anywhere to be found.

Life on the farm was wonderful in so many ways, and one learned to be tough in others. We all had a lot of chores to do and it took the family team to make it work. My dad worked in a factory as well as working the farm, as did my mom after I started the second grade. How they worked so hard on the farm while raising us and working full-time jobs, I’ll never know. My mother is still alive at the age of 92 and remembers the joy of it more than the hard work.

I never knew we were “poor” until I was considerably older. Restaurants, soft drinks and packaged goods were not part of life for my family. Yet life on the farm was rich for me as a child. We had homemade ice cream (that hand cranking again) all summer. I had an abundance of cats that my dad used to feed by squirting milk into their mouths straight from the cow. We had dogs and sometimes a horse to ride. We found beehives some summers and dad would smoke them out for the honey. Every year there was something different to enjoy and learn about. I remember dropping corn behind me and having a string of chickens follow me around the yard.  We had huge bonfires down by the river in the summertime with the neighbors, and it was more fun than anything I can remember. It was a childhood with problems like most others, and I am extremely grateful for the teachings and the safe sanctuary nature provided.

I was born in 1953 and now live in the North Fork Valley of western Colorado which is known for its orchards and small organic farms. I spend part of my time guiding people in listening to the land.

Photo Credit: Fotolia/Wimbledon 

Please send email submissions to with the subject line "Elder Wisdom" or send mail to: attn: Heidi Hunt, Re: Elder Wisdom, Mother Earth News, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609.

Related Content

Why I Farm

Farming brings with it a lot of dirt, manure and blood, not to mention death. But it's these that al...

It's Getting Harder to Sleep In Around Here

We've added a rooster to our small flock and he's fitting in just fine!

Dedicated Roofers Cross Dangerous Creek

Talking about the recent past week where we got several items crossed off the Spring to-do list and ...

Lessons Learned From Our Flock

Who knew that a flock of chickens would be able to teach us so much about living with our children?

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.