I come from a long line of "Contraption Makers". In fact, one of the most enjoyable and satisfying activities my Gardening Buddy and I engage in is contraption inventing and building. As we stand back and admire our work, we congratulate each other on our ability to make something useful from bits and pieces of this and that. Sometimes we buy bits and pieces. Mostly though, we look around for the odd pieces of wood cut from some other project, a bit of fencing wire, or some leftover piece of conduit.
My Grandfather was a maker of contraptions. Born in the late 1800s, he originally had a career as a pharmacist. Later, he became a Lincoln motor car dealer. But then, fate intervened. My Grandmother inherited a quarter section of farm land when her parents died. Her brother, my Uncle Charlie, inherited the adjoining quarter section.
Grandpa called a family council, including his five children, and spoke about what it would mean for them to leave the city and move to the farm Grandma had inherited. The family conferred on what work would be needed, who might take on what responsibilities, how life would change from living in a city brick home, to a small, frame house in the country. The family voted to move. They would raise cows, pigs, poultry, corn, milo...and have a garden. These activities would have to feed the family and provide income. Each of the children, of whom Mom was the third oldest at age 14, would have tasks. The boys would tend the larger animals and do the field work, the girls would take care of the poultry and the garden. To help with income, the girls would sell eggs, poultry and butter. With their plans laid, they moved to their farm in 1923.
The photo to the left is Mom with part of the flock of poultry. There were ducks and geese. and chickens of several breeds, such as Barred Rocks, White Leghorns, and Rhode Island Reds.
My Mom liked the Reds the best. She had several pets from among the Reds.
In this picture she was about 15 or 16 years old. She was always very tiny for her age. When she was full grown, she was all of 4 feet 9 inches tall.
A quarter section of land is 160 acres. In addition to fields and pastures, there would be a garden. It would have to be large enough to feed a family of seven during the season, and yield enough produce to put up for the rest of the year. Equipment - tractor, cultivator, planter, harvester - would be needed for plowing, planting and harvesting in the fields. Grandpa and Uncle Charlie decided that they could share larger equipment and help each other with field work. But a garden of the size needed would be very hard for my Grandma and her three daughters to handle alone. The hardest work would be turning under the manure and garden waste in the fall, and loosening the soil in the spring.
When you turned off the main road onto my Grandparent's farm road, you went over a wooden bridge that crossed "The Branch", a creek that ran into a small, local river. On the right side of the road, past the bridge, was Grandpa's machine shop. I still recall the smells of oil, gas, and metal inside. Next to the machine shop was the windmill. In addition to the tools inside the machine shop, there was a bank of batteries. The windmill charged the batteries, which provided electricity before the county came through with power lines.
The machine shop was a magical place. I was never allowed inside without Grandpa or one of my Uncles. Most of the equipment Grandpa had was purchased used. Tractors needed repairs, parts needed welding - something was always needing maintenance and fixing up. Out of Grandpa's shop also came "contraptions".
To be continued...