Saturday, December 5, 2015

Ernie Margheim on the Farm in my Childhood

 An email Ernie wrote in Feb 2008 to a high school friend of his sister.
Left to right: Lydia (Ochs) Margheim with daughter
Lefa, then Alfred Margheim, LaVerne Margheim,
son of Lydia, then Ernest and his mother
Mollie Margheim on the farm
John L. Margheim holding twins Leonard (left)
and LaVerna (right), with Alfred at left
end and Ernest at far right. 
John Margheim at right end, with sons Alfred and Ernie
sitting on the running board. 
Speaking of snakes, boy howdy, when we lived on the farm 1927-1931 west of WaKeeney (KS), I was old enough (ages 6-10) to bring in the cattle from the pasture for evening milking. I was SCARED STIFF of snakes. Even plain old Bull Snakes. A snake was a snake to me. Often times we kids still went barefoot most of the summer. When I saw a snake on that chore, "Goodbye Cattle!" I ran for the house, half way whimpering or crying.I imagined the snakes could fly and could catch me. I did not look back! When I was quite young, we visited a boy at the Hays Hospital who had been bitten by a rattlesnake. He was puffed up, swollen and black and blue in his swollen face. I shall never forget that! To this day, I DON'T LIKE SNAKES! 

While in the Army in WW2, we had to sleep out on the ground during maneuvers bivouac. In Tennessee they had coral snakes, small and colorful, orange and black. They told us they were poisonous. I did not like that! On the farm we had a lot of those little green garter snakes. I finally got used to them, as our dogs would bite them in the middle and violently shake its head to tear them apart. Also we had Blue Racers, a small greenish snake in the chicken house. Gathering eggs, us kids were told to watch for snakes in the nest. 
Home on the farm near WaKeeney, Trego, KS
Ernie is leaning against his house, 3rd from left, with his
cousins Lefa and LaVerne Margheim.
 Yep, I was old enough to hand crank the cream separator. Too fast would make less cream, too thick and rich; too slow, the cream was still with the skim milk. Turn it JUST RIGHT speed.  Yes, I remember those discs that had to be washed and cleaned and hung up to dry. The cream was hard to wash off them. You had a little crank thing, we spun them in the bucket, but you still had to wipe them. 

I was not very old when I drove the tractor pulling the combine in wheat harvest. It was tricky to go through washout gullies, wet spots in the field to go around. Where we turned the corner we had to go back atty corner later on to cut the wheat left from the turning. Another farm experience was hauling feed shocks, pitch fork bundles overhead, mice would fall out of those shocks and fall on us. I was always afraid they would fall down my shirt collar on the back of my neck or run up our pant leg of our bib overalls. 

Wheat harvest in Trego County, KS
Yep, kids nowadays miss out on all our experiences when we were kids. There was no child labor law. Kids worked right along with their parents. Kids drove tractors when they were ten years old. They were run with only a clutch, no accelerators. Kids could hardly reach the clutch with their legs. I was alone in the field plowing when I had to refill the gas tank on a McCormick Deering. The tank was on top of the engine and it was so hot I was afraid if I spilled any gas, it might catch fire. It was so hot, you could not lay your hand on it. 
Ernie and his brother Leonard are milking cows.
I was only about 8 years old when I milked one cow that had long teats and was easy milking. She was gentle and easy to milk. But how I hated those heiferettes (with first year calves) with the the short teats. You had to wet your hand with milk and strip them with your fingers. They were hard to milk. Some were pretty nervous and would kick. We had to hobble both hind legs. They did not like to be milked. If you did not hobble them, their hooves and feet ended up inside the milk bucket. I have had them kick the bucket and spill the milk. When I got older (age 12) I was able to sit on those 2x4 T-stools and hold the smaller 2 gallon buckets between my knees. Not until I was full, naturally. Some cows gave more milk than others. Even when I was out of high school, in 1940, when we visited Ehrlichs out by Susank, I still helped hand milk. 
Becky  Margheim at left, Doug Ehrlich in the middle, and
Dennis Margheim in front of Grandpa John Margheim
and family friend Mollie (Mrs. Alec) Ehrlich,
holding her grandson Bruce Ehrlich.
In those days, chores had to be done so neighbors helped neighbors if they went to the fair or something. Farming is a lot different nowadays, with all the electric equipment, milking machines, refrigerated milk tanks, etc. I doubt anybody has milk (cream) separators anymore. When we took eggs to town, they had to be candled. At home, we had an incubator, and hatched our own chicks. It was heated with kerosene. Us kids would have to make frequent visits to check on the heat and then watch when the eggs got pecked as they hatched. 

Kids miss out on a lot, don't they? Not to mention the HOME BREW, the beer all the farmers made. Kids stomped the cabbage in those earthenware crocks for sauerkraut. We always had crocks full of cucumbers for dill pickles. I remember the Alum that was added to the brine. It would really pucker your tongue. 

Speaking of tongue, yep, I also had my tongue stick on the pump handle in the winter. That was something I did ONLY ONCE! I learned my lesson. It was hard to cry when your tongue was STUCK!  

I remember when we had to break the ice in the stock tanks so the cattle and horses could drink. No tank heaters in those days. 
John Margheim with infant son Alfred, 1924

Slopping the hogs was another chore. In a 30 gal wooden barrel we poured the skim milk and added bran we called "Shorts" for the hogs. 
Leonard (left) with big brother Ernest Margheim
as he carries in the milk.
Mollie Margheim, Ernie's mother, (at left)
with family friend Rose Schneider
carrying the milk in
I remember chewing cottonseed cake as a kid. It was fed to the calves. I remember we had to stick cockleburrs on the bull calves to keep other calves from sucking on them. And when weaning calves from the cow, we had to use our hands in their mouth to get the calves accustomed to drink from a bucket.

Yep, those were the days memories are made of. It's nice to gab with someone who has been there, done that!

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