Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Imagine living without cell phones, comput...

Imagine living without cell phones, computers -- even TV, air conditioning and radio! Horrors! What did we do with all that extra time? I don’t recall that we had any! When I was a kid my brother and I were directly involved in the successes and failures of our family enterprises. The whole family was “people oriented,” very active with friends, neighbors and in Olivet church.

Women took pride in having their washing on the line early in the day, in making neat patches on men’s overalls and in providing their families with tasty, nourishing food. We all worked together to have a productive garden, successful crops and a tip-top retail dairy operation. My brother and I worked right along with our parents because that’s the way families were -- teams, like the mules, working shoulder to shoulder to pull the load.

I liked helping on the farm more than helping in the kitchen because I enjoyed being outdoors. The main attraction though, was seeing things changing, improving, growing day by day. Housework needed to be done over and over, always the same, but I helped there, too.

Each year, soon after the corn came up, Dad would say, “This will be a good weekend to replant corn.” He’d sharpen our hoes and my brother and I would fill our overall pockets with corn to put seeds in where the planter had skipped, wasting space.

We’d each work two rows at a time because there weren’t too many skipped places. When I found one, I’d turn the hoe sideways to chop a triangular hole about 3 inches deep, drop in three kernels and drag dirt back to fill the hole. As I stepped on the dirt to firm it around the seed, I knew that three more plants, six more ears, would grow in that spot. I was doing something that needed to be done.

Dad, like many other farmers, used to check his corn rows. That meant that they could cultivate across the width of the field as well as down the long rows. This left few weeds but it wasted space. With the development of commercial fertilizers, farmers began to plant more seeds in each row. That ended cross cultivation and meant that we would chop weeds out with hoes. Dad hired a neighbor boy, George Williams, and all four of us worked part of the time. We’d work two rows at a time, as with replanting. I’d look back at the rows where those weeds were wilting on the ground and be glad they wouldn’t rob the soil of food and drink needed for our corn plants.

One year, after the corn was laid ~by, too tall for the cultivator to pass over without damage, there were still weeds between the rows. We hitched the “riding mule” to our one-row garden cultivator and I rode as Dad walked behind, guiding the cultivator by its two handles. My job was to keep Jack from stepping on corn and to keep him from snitching tasty leaves.

In geography class that September, when we were studying farming, our teacher read, “Corn is planted in rows that are 18 inches apart.” I flung my hand in the air. “That’s wrong!” I said. “I’ve been riding a mule between corn rows this summer and I know he’s wider than 18 inches!” The teacher called Mom that evening and said that I’d been impudent. Mom agreed. But she also verified that corn rows were farther apart than the width of that mule.

I had other chores, but maybe that’ll be for some other Tuesday.

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