MEMORIES OF LIVING ON THE FARM
Esther Eley Jones
|A Farm 1940 in West Carroll Parish,
Louisiana Cultivating CottonLibrary of Congress|
My father was a farmer in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana, and my mother was a “housewife.” They had eight children so it was important that mother stay home. Back then, folks called it “Working at home.” Today young women call it “Stay at home Mom.” Mother’s chores were caring for the home, the children, cooking two meals each day, gardening, and milking the cows. Mother would cook our breakfast of fresh eggs from the chickens, her own perfectly shaped homemade biscuits that she made in her large brown wooden biscuit bowl, occasionally fresh bacon or fresh sausage, homemade syrup or jelly, and fresh milk. When mother prepared dinner, she cooked meat, vegetables, corn bread, and milk to drink with our meal. This was not just your usual meal. Mother cooked enough for dinner so that the family could have left overs for “supper.” Therefore, we always had three hearty meals a day. Very seldom did we eat between meals, but if we were lucky enough to have a snack, it would usually be a biscuit left over from breakfast, sliced into with sugar inside, and a glass of milk. The older children were usually busy helping with the chores and did not take the time for snacks or a break. There was work to be done and it had to be done within a time period.
Erstus, as my mother always called him, allowed my sisters and me to follow along with him as he did his chores on the farm. As each one of us children became old enough, we helped with the chores. Now you may ask, “What were those chores?” When I was about twelve years old, I was old enough to learn to milk a cow. Women during that era were the cow milkers. That was during the times when cows were milked by placing the milk pail under the cows’ udders and squeezing the cows teats and pushing the teat up as you squeeze to make the milk come out. I just could not get the hang of milking the cow though. I would squeeze the cows’ teats, but just could not get the milk to come out. Mother tried to teach me several times without success. I decided it just was not meant for me to learn to milk a cow. Therefore, I went on to another chore of feeding (slopping the hogs) the hogs or feeding the chickens.
Feeding the hogs and chickens was a bit easier than milking the cow. When I fed the hogs, I put the scraps, corn, or oat feed in their troughs and put water in another water trough. Of course, when I went into the hogs’ pen I tried to give the hogs their space when I fed them. Those were large strong hogs and sows (females) and I did not want an encounter with them. When I fed the chickens, I walked into the chicken pen, sprinkled chicken feed in their feeders, and made sure there was water in their water pans. Chickens need plenty of fresh water every day so that was a big chore to keep up. Of course, the chickens would run around clucking as they were trying to find their chicken feed, they would congregate for their meal, and eat until they were satisfied. Chickens eat whole grains, yellow cracked corn, grass, weeds, or kitchen scraps.
Farming was our lively hood and our way of meeting the needs of our family. Family was important to Daddy. You see Daddy was the oldest of the children in his family, he learned to work at a very young age, and he instilled in his children a work ethic. There was very little waste of food or time for our farming parents and their children. There were chores that needed to be done and when those were done, then we could play.
Memories are a view of things of the past as they are etched in our minds. As we made memories we were not aware of the lives we touched along the way.