Eggs and Cream
When we milked the cattle, we didn’t have any place to keep the cream that they separated. So they had to put it in cream cans – metal cans – and put it in the stock tank where the cows would drink out of on the outside of the barn. It had a little cooling tank that went from the inside of the barn to the outside and we would pump water from the well through this small tank. That would cool down the cream that they separated, so that it wouldn’t spoil until they could haul it to the creamery the following day. They used to haul cream every day. Usually several of the farmers would get together and they would take turns transporting these cans of cream over to the creamery where they would make butter out of it. When they would make butter, the by-product was buttermilk, which in those days they didn’t do anything with except send it back in your cream can and you would feed it to the hogs. So things have improved greatly.
When they would haul the cream to the creamery, they would also pick up groceries at the little store in Elmdale. There was one grocery store. My mother used to order over the telephone to the grocery store and order different groceries. And then whoever hauled the cream cans to the creamery would swing by the grocery store and pick up the groceries. They would charge it on your bill and then when you got your “cream check” at the end of the month, or whenever they paid, then you would settle up with the grocery guy to pay your bill. This same grocery store guy would buy the eggs. So they would send the eggs in and he would check them out and decide what grade you had. Usually he was the kind of character that would always find that most of your eggs were small instead of large. So you had to take his word for whatever he felt like giving you for your eggs. He would credit your account with that.
The Old School
I was in the fourth grade and I went to school one morning and it was really, really foggy. You could see only a short distance ahead of you. When I got to school, which was about half a mile or so away from our farm house, the school had burned down during the night. It was an old school. We had no indoor plumbing — we had outhouses. The school had a big wood-burning stove. I guess the teacher really stoked up the stove that night. Either he didn’t check the draft or it got so hot that it overheated and set the school on fire. We had a vacation until they fixed up the neighbor’s granary. They made big long benches and desks. We had to finish 4th grade in this neighbor’s granary.
4-H Club Projects
When I was young on the farm, one of the things we had for activities was an organization called 4-H Club. Everybody had a project. I had a lamb or baby sheep when it was real tiny and I fed it with a bottle. The lamb had a little pen and we kept it there until it got pretty big so we wouldn’t have to worry about it getting out. It used to run around all over the farm and follow you wherever you went. I called her “Louise” … that was my pet sheep.
I remember another year, I had a pet pig. I don’t remember if I had a name for it. He was separate from the rest of the pigs and we grazed him – or fed him – when he was a little piggy. When he got pretty big, we took him to the County Fair in Little Falls. A truck came by and picked up all of these animals for the fair. This was one of the first times that I ever spent away from home. We actually slept right in the pig barn where the pigs were. There was a stall and we had a bunch of hay — that’s where I slept with the pig. I didn’t win any prize, but it was quite an experience and the first time I was ever away from home.