Thursday, October 30, 2008
Little House on the Prairie?
This morning I was sitting at the kitchen table talking with my mother and drinking coffee. Since one of my brothers has recently acquired a rooster and 3 hens, I asked her if chickens had to be kept warm in the winter. We had freezing temps this morning and I just wondered. Well, she began to talk about her childhood and I was amazed at the similarities to Little House on the Prairie.
I guess you could have called it Big Old Farmhouse on the Coastal Plain!
She said that her father, who she calls Papa, would buy 200 biddies that they would have to keep warm and take care of until they were big enough to go into the poultry yard with the already good sized flock. The chickens were very important to their survival, and she assured me that they always ate very well, thanks to her Papa and Mama.
She said there were chicken thieves who would come into the yard at night occasionally and take chickens from the roost. The chickens would be making all kind of noises and her Papa would go out with a gun. But she said he never shot at anyone, just went out to investigate.
I asked her what the chickens ate and she said they had plenty of corn and that they would take corn to the mill nearby and have cornmeal made. Then her mother would use the cornmeal and make some kind of concoction that the chickens loved.
She said that she would take a big dishpan full of her Mama's eggs to the store down the road and trade them in for things like sugar. Usually there would be a little change leftover, which her Mama would put away and save for Christmas. I hope the store keeper was nicer than Ms. Olson!!!
I think I want some chickens, but I'm not sure they would be profitable, since we would need to purchase food for them. A dozen eggs probably costs less than the food to feed them!
Then she told me about how much meat they had in their smokehouse. It was a nice smokehouse with lots of places to hang all kinds of hams, shoulders and sausage, etc.
Her Papa always had a cow so that all the children (11!) would have plenty of milk.
Don't get me wrong, I know they did not have the modern conveniences that we now have such as electric heat, air conditioning, indoor bathrooms and the like, but it sounds like a great childhood that my Mama had!
I think we all need to let our parents talk about their childhoods and make a record of these things.
Have your parents told you stories that make you yearn for those simpler times?
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