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Farmer In The Valley

I was raised on a dairy farm in Northern New York's beautiful St. Lawrence River Valley. We moved there in 1941,and for the first several years had no electric power. We hand milked our cows aided by the light of kerosenelanterns. We cooled the milk with ice cut from a river in winter, and packed in sawdust for summer use. The cattle were turned outdoors at each end of the day to drink water which we hand pumped into a large watering trough for them. I remember our hand knit mittens, wet from throwing snowballs, sticking to the frosty pump handle.

It was several years, before our horses were phased out in favor of tractors and tractor drawn machinery. We had a team of roan Belgian horses. One was a steel grey gelding, while the other was a strawberry mare. They weighed in at about a ton each. They were used for all types of dairy farm work, including mowing, raking, and loading hay. They were also hooked to the oat and corn binders in season. They were used in the woods for cutting firewood, logs, and cedar fenceposts.

We kept chickens for their eggs, and when they no longer produced them, they became dinner. The chickenswere my mom's responsibility, and where she earned her money for household expenses, as well as clothing for her thirteen children.

We also kept hogs for part of our winter meat supply. One of we eight boys always had the job of feeding them night and morning. I don't believe there is much of anything on this earth much cuter than a baby pig. We tried not to get too attached though, as their fate was known from the first day of our meeting. As the winter days grew colder they were turned into porkchops, ham, and bacon. As we had no refrigeration, the meat was hung in the rafters of the woodshed to forestall the critters and saved for winter consumption.

I started in the first grade of school, when I was four years old in 1942, in a one room school house, andcontinued there for my first six years. There were between twenty and twenty-five children there at any given timescattered through the six grades. I went through twelve full years of school, and graduated Lisbon Central School in1954 at the age of 15, all of this time living on my parent's farm. I enjoyed life on the farm, and believeyet that it is about as good a way as any to bring up a family.


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