Thursday, March 1, 2012

To The Doctor and Hen House

Tucked into this story is another one I had never heard, or taken the time to hear. It's the of painful casting she went through to correct her legs. It was partially to correct her feet, but also her knees. The knee correction was needed because of the early crawling she did.

That information is tucked into stories of South Dakota farm life in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This is one of Mom's longhand stories, written down in a notebook. The photo, left to right, is Mom's brother Bud, her father and her mother; my uncle, grandfather and grandmother.

Summer soon started to change to fall, Mickey and I have played all summer. Dad was a big man, well over 6 feet tall with a pipe usually, while Mom was short, 5 feet 2 inches tall and was heavy set. ...

During the grain season, we left the oats for later in the winter. We used a combine and it cut the oats close to the ground, then bundled a bunch together. Anyone who could lift the bundles had to set them up into a shock, maybe six bundles to a shock. It needed to dry before we could use the combine. That machine would separate the oat seed from the stock. Eventually the seed would get ground into meal to feed livestock. The stock of grain got baled into bales for the livestock.

Sometimes it would be ground with something like corn to make a powdery mash. Then it was fed to the hogs. Water would be added. I would love to watch the hogs, but usually Mom would not let me out there. She said it was too dangerous. I'm sure she was right, but still it was interesting.

My only big problems were the spiders. Now these were just your run-of-the-mill tiny spiders, these were inch-wide bodies with legs to match. They sat up in their webs just looking at me. Sometimes there were several of them perched up there.

Then came milking the cows. This also was fascinating how these big guys could sit on those little stools and milk those teats. Then the buckets of milk go through the separator to separate the cream from the milk. Of course a bucket of whole milk went to the house for us. The cream here went to the top and Mom could separate it. The cream that went into the big cream can. It was lowered into the tank inside the shed. The tank was cold so it kept the cream cold until Dad took it to town and sold it at the creamery and bought butter, and if we went too, we got ice cream on a stick. Big treat.

By this time, I had been doctoring at the orthopedic doctor in Sioux Falls, 20 miles away. Brother Bud took Mom and I usually, as I had to be carried. I was little, but with two full-length casts on my legs that went feet to hip. My excursions to the barn and shed had come to an end. I crawled before, now I couldn't do that.

Now, I was pulled around in the wagon. Bud could handle me fine.

Because I had crawled so long, my knees and my ankles had grown inward, so the trips to the doctors were not very pleasant ones. They cut into the top of the knee cast, corrected as much as possible, then recasted again. The same thing with my ankles. I don't remember crying, but I know that it hurt. That was all for that day and I came back. One week they did the knees, the next week my feet. In time, the knees were done, but the feet took longer, as they were deformed at birth.

I still was only able to get along in the wagon. I would go out with Mom to do chicken chores. I loved to watch the chickens. They were not tame, but she fed them in troughs. These were the young chicks that we got in the spring. These would replace the ones in the hen house for laying the eggs. These hens were on the other end of the farm.

That is where we went to next. Mom took the feed into the hen house. There was a pen built along side with a roof in it. There, hens were not let out for fear they would run away and lay eggs anywhere. It was very dirty in the hen house and they can be mean.

When the hens are sitting on their nest, they become very territorial. When it comes time, we sell the old hens and put the new pullets into that hen house. Right now, however, the pullets will be running on the farm. At night, they perched in the trees surrounding the house.

Connie, 2011

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