Friday, October 23, 2015

Things I learned on the farm

# It’s always best to tell the truth

I must have been eight...or nine...that would have made Jim 11 or 12. Part of our chores was to change the water in the chicken-house part of the barn. (there was a period of time when we put chicken wire up in what was formerly the horse stalls to house our 50 or so layers.) I hated it.

There was water in the barn but we never left it on because in really cold weather it would freeze and the pipes might (and did) burst. So we turned it on and off in the Spring House which was water-central for the place.

There were two sources of water in the little block structure...a virtual was a running spring which originated in the orchard behind the house and a well that was drilled adjacent to the Spring House. The well was a traditional 100 foot well with a eductor-type pump. It was not always there, but probably was in the time period of my tale...1949-50.

The spring in the orchard flowed above ground feeding a small run that traversed the barnyard and was also piped below ground. The piped water lead into the Spring House and into a concrete trough. It flowed year round and was very cold.

The trough in the Spring House was used to cool the fresh milk and could hold maybe 4 - 10 gallon milk cans (and watermelon in season.) The trough had an overflow pipe that vented out under the ground to the little run which ran through the barnyard. It also had a pipe that also went underground and vented to a larger trough that was used to water the cattle and horses. It was big enough for two people to lie in, but too cold to stay in the water very long even on a hot summer day. Jim and I tried it many times.

So, back to the chickens. If you turned the water on to the barn, you had to turn the water off on the return trip. Most of the time we simply dipped the two buckets of water into the watering trough in the barnyard twice a day to water the chickens. If you turned the water on there was a spigot in the chicken area are which was hooked to the well and would pump water with good force. Either was acceptable, but in either case you had to throw out the old water to get rid of the straw and other debris.

Out I went...zooming past the Spring House, set, I guess, on dumping the buckets and dipping them into the watering trough. When I got there I deducted that the water was not all that dirty and simply skimmed the straw off the top of the buckets….and zoom, back I went to the house.

Well, Dad watched the whole thing and asked me if I remembered to water the chickens...yep, I did...I said. To which he observed that he had not seen me come out of the barn to dip the buckets… which I said...Oh, I used the inside which he said….I didn’t see you turn it off….to which I said….Oh, I forgot to turn it off; I go do it now. Not so fast my boy (he grabbed me by the arm) and said….Jim, you go turn it off.

The end result was my bawling because I knew I was caught in a lie and Dad did not have to spank or anything...I was crushed. End of tale, but not the end of the on-going struggle I had with Dad. I have more stories to relate in another lesson.

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