Yes, we are here!

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we have been educating folks about the benefits of self-reliance for 50 years. That includes researching and sourcing the best books and products to help individuals master the skills they need in times like these and beyond. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-800-234-3368 or by email. Stay safe!

Growing Up on a Farm: Keeping Cows, Pumping Water And Incubating Chicken Eggs

| 11/3/2011 2:19:25 PM

This is the second story from Ruth Zwald, written by her father, Robert Zwald, and submitted as part of our Wisdom From Our Elders collection of self-sufficient tales from yesteryear. She compiled her father’s stories in his own words, and they are posted in eight parts. Read the other parts: 1900s Farming in Washington County Minnesota; Catching Frogs for Money; One Room School House; Borrowing Against Life Insurance; Changes in Agriculture; Courtship and Marriage and The Wisconsin Farm.    Robert Zwald With Horses 

As a kid, I followed my dad wherever he went! I was with Dad whenever I could be – in the barn, hauling milk, grinding feed, riding the old grain seeder, cultivating. I really should have stayed home when it was bitter cold and storming.

My Dad milked eight cows - not very good cows. The farm in Woodbury was a poor farm. We had no electricity. Our barn was dark and dreary, but warm with the calves, cows, and horses. We pumped water into a cistern gas engine once or twice a week, and then we had to pump it by hand into a tank in the barn. Everything drank out of that tank. It was my job to pump the water after school - I was about 8 or 10 years old. After I finished, I can remember going to sleep on the loose hay, which was pitched down from upstairs. I’d sleep until Dad finished milking. Then we would grab the lantern from a nail in the ceiling, and head into the cold house. We had to be careful with the lantern in the barn, as it burned kerosene with a wick on it. I liked the long shadows cast by the lantern. Our house wasn’t very warm in winter. We would move everything into the dining room to keep warm - dishes, stove, and all. We had two stoves, and we’d usually dress by the stove, as we kept our clothes near the stove to stay warm. We had a outdoor summer kitchen, which we used in the warm weather.

We had to carry water in and out of the house. Saturday night was bath night, with water heated on the stove. We had a round tin tub we took a bath in. You had to fold your legs to fit in the tub. Me first, then my sister (Marcella, who was five years older than me) was #2, then Mom, then Dad. Dad carried the dirty water out after he was finished with his bath.

Which reminds me - the pigs would get the water from the house that we carried out. The water was collected in a pail under the kitchen sink. This was the water from doing dishes with homemade soap. The pigs loved it.

We did our own butchering - smoked the bacon and hams, and canned the other meat in quart jars (very good). Our chicken coop was a dark, dismal place. I hated to go in it. The hens didn’t lay any eggs in the winter - it was too cold. We had a fountain with a burner under it to keep it from freezing. In summer, we stored eggs in something called “liquid glass,” - it looked like lard in a crock jar. This preserved the eggs into winter. I used to have to go outside to get in the cellar and dig the eggs out when my mom needed them for baking.Robert Zwald with a chick 

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. 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 $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me