Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Donna and Cliff: homeowners

So, on Labor Day weekend, 1967, we moved into our little house.  In a lot outside the back door, weeds were growing so tall, they towered over us.  I think I did without chickens for awhile, and we must have butchered the pig before we moved.  Babe the polled hereford cow moved with us, along with her black heifer calf.  
The first few nights, rats kept us awake.  That scared me, because I knew of some people whose baby got chewed on by rats when I was a teenager in Harlem.  We put out poison, and that stopped the rat scurryings.  
There we were with twenty acres, and no tractor.  I recall Cliff and his brother, Phil, cutting weeds in that pen behind the house with scythes.   I could hear them talking and laughing, but I couldn't see them for the weeds.  

Behind the tractor is the trailer house we rented from my parents before we bought our farm.

It wasn't long before Daddy sold us the old Minneapolis Moline tractor he'd had for awhile; he didn't use it anyhow.  As always with my parents, we paid a certain amount each week until the tractor was ours.  So we had a tractor, but no implements.  The brakes on that tractor were very undependable.  
I felt like I was living out "Little House on the Prairie"; I learned to bake bread and make jelly.  There was an apple tree behind the house, and we had quite a few pies that fall.  Life was exciting!  
Then it was winter.  The only heat in the house was a stove in the living room; it had once had a fan to help distribute the heat, but that had long-since stopped working.  I moved our son's crib into the living room so he'd be closer to the heat.  He was sick a lot that winter, or maybe, just because he was my first child, it just seemed like he was sick a lot.  When people came to visit, they'd huddle around that stove trying to keep warm.  The kitchen was so cold that my home-made bread wouldn't rise, so I'd bring it to the living room and put it behind the stove.  Then the side of the dough next to the stove would cook.  
Our pipes froze often.  Little house on the prairie indeed!  Later on we got a wood stove for the basement, which helped immensely.  It heated the kitchen floor, and we could open the door to the basement and let heat up into the house.   

We bought our first milk cow, Suzy, from my parents on the little-bit-a-week payment plan (that's my sister-in-law, Charlene, on the cow).  Cliff was supposed to milk her because I didn't know how to milk; but you can guess who ended up milking.  There was no barn or shed on the place, so I had to milk out in the open, rain or shine.  By this time Cliff was working at the butcher shop, and a fellow he worked with there, Gene Wyzard, came out on weekends and helped him build a pole barn.  Cliff has used the skills he learned from that man many times over the year.  Gene died from cancer before he was forty.  
Everything little gain we made on that place was so hard-won, so treasured, such an adventure.  I'm doing these entries mostly to refresh my own memory, so I don't forget the good times we had.  

Cliff figures we can make it on Social Security because we know what it is to do without; we got by on very little back in the early days of our marriage.  
Of course, we don't have my parents to help us now.  


  1. Wow, hard to believe you are not talking about the 1800's, or are you? :-)

  2. Meesha, sometimes I FELT like it was the 1800's, and I loved it.

  3. Anonymous11:11 AM

    You could start charging entry to the blog...course, there'd need to be naked pictures :-). ~Mary

  4. Very interesting entry. If ken and I can make it I am sure that you two can also. I will say it's not very easy to do. Helen

  5. Loved this post. I think folks could learn a lot from it too-you were happy and made it even though it wasn't easy. Makes me wonder what folks will do if times ever get truly hard again-including me.

  6. Love to read these stories. Mel and I lived in some ugly places when we were first married. Paid $35.00 a month for an apartment and then moved in a little bungalow behind the landlady for $45.00 a month.


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