Farm life was a form of isolation for us in the 30's. The recession did not help and we were a mile away from our closest neighbors, but we made do. We did get to school and we did get to church. Every week or two my parents would go to town and one of us would be allowed to go along. Whoopee! We might even come home with a bag of candy that we bought at the dime store for 5 cents.
About this time of the year when the early evenings were chilly and darkness began to fall, I liked to go to the barn for a visit with the animals. I actually liked the smell of the barn – even the silage with its pungent sour odor. There was something welcoming when you opened the barn door on a cool fall evening and the moist warm air of the animals greeted you. It was usually quiet until a cow would moo or a kitten meow. Dad and Uncle were always busy with chores – either feeding, throwing down hay from the loft or beginning the milking tasks. Sometimes Mom or my sister, Dorothy, would be helping, as well. It felt like home.
The bull was always penned at the far end of the barn. He was kept there until his services were needed in the barnyard (no artificial insemination in the '30's). The cows took their places in the first two rows of stanchions, with the calves in their stalls in the following row. The horses were in their special area at the far end of the barn. Between the horses and the cows was an open area which was used for separating the milk from the cream and for loading the milk cans to be taken to the creamery, which was about three miles away.
I loved visiting the horses but we were not allowed to walk behind them. We could, however, talk to them over the hay/feed boxes. Our dad did not allow us to ride the horses; they were used only for field work, so we did not become too attached (besides mom did not want us to have farm yard pets).
Just past the end of the barn was the windmill which pumped water into a conduit to the water tank where the animals could drink when they were outdoors. The pit beneath the windmill was deep. Ropes were tied to the handles of the milk cans so they could be lowered into that pit to keep them cold. That area also served as refrigeration of a sort where mom stored the butter and other food items that needed to be kept cold since we did not have an ice box.
The barn was red – barn red. One summer the painters came to put a fresh red coat of paint on the barn. I liked to watch them on their ladders and scaffolds making the barn look fresh and new. One day, as I watched them paint, I stepped backwards a few steps to get a better look. OOPS! I was unaware that there was an open can of paint behind me and I stepped into it. My sandals were ruined but, even worse, the painters were furious with me. How was I to know they were careless enough to leave an open can of paint sitting in the yard!
Respectfully submitted,
Laura W. Berglund copyright October 2019