These days it seems that memories which had been long stored away in the files of my mind have been making their way to the present with flashes so clear they could have been created yesterday.
The latest brings me back to a time when I was barely taller than the hem of my mother’s blue taffeta skirt. Considering my mother never measured more than five feet two inches tall, and the hemlines at that time were mid-calf you can assume my age was most likely tallied in months rather than years.
I loved that dress. My mom, who to me was so very tall, wore this dress for special days. On this particular day before she went out with friends, we, Mom, my older brother and baby sister,
all sat to be photographed by my uncle. He was an amateur photography and thanks to him and the dark-room he created in the bathroom we were blessed with a great many photographs and portraits of our early years.
Mom’s dress was a blue moire with a full skirt beneath which she wore petticoats which made the skirt move and swish as she walked. That swish fascinated me along with the watery appearance of the fabric. One of those simple things that made up my special memories of my mom.
She was only twenty-seven years of age, and even now when I see the tiny white-haired woman of 93, I still see her as she was back then…. young, vibrant, and beautiful.
What happens to the food in the freezer when the power goes out? It thaws and you either eat it or throw it out, right? Nope, pressure canning meat not only saves that possible loss, but it also provides safely preserved, good tasting meat for quick, meals.
I dry can ground beef which will be used later in any recipes that call for loose, browned ground beef such as meat sauce, tacos, etc.
One pound of ground beef fills a one pint jar. Brown the meat, drain off the liquid, and loosely fill sterile jars removing air pockets as usual. Tapping the jar on the counter will help settle the meat into the jar without tamping.
(the little bit of fat in the jars is harmless and was forced from the meat during the pressure canning process). These jars each contain one pound of beef which fill the jars to the bottom ridge and became packed down during processing.
Wipe the jar rim with a cloth dipped in vinegar, add lids and rims, and process for your altitude; 75 min, 11 lbs for pints or 90 min 11 lbs for quarts at elevation below 1000 ft according to the USDA directions for beef. This Canning Times is what I use. https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/usda/GUIDE01_HomeCan_rev0715.pdf
I was born while Harry S Truman was President, television was very new, we still used an ice box (I was in school when we finally went electric). We got dressed up to go anywhere away from the home. People wore hats, men and women alike. Ladies wore gloves and we matched shoes with handbag/purse. I loved my petticoats which made the full skirts of my dresses puff out. I am glad these dresses are coming back …. I have several but no frilly petticoats.
I would stand by the wringer washing machine watching with fascination at the wet clothing got squeezed through the wringer, and had to stand on a chair to wash dishes at the sink. (I have an old wringer washer and absolutely love using it, also still do dishes by hand).
Our grocery store was a tiny corner store, much like Ike Godsey’s store in The Waltons, where Mr. D would cut meat to order for my grandmother while I browsed the penny candy shelves. Grandmother would also phone the store to place an order which would be delivered later in the day by Mr. D’s son, Johnny. Johnny also delivered the blocks of ice for the ice box. I can still “see” him chipping off big bits of ice for us kids on hot summer days.
It seemed everyone was polite and thoughtful of others.
There was one telephone, usually hanging on the wall in the kitchen (I hate cell phones and have one only for emergency) One television, if you were lucky enough to own one. We have one tv which is more than enough since even with 100 channels, there isn’t anything to watch.
Kids were sent outside to play right after breakfast and didn’t come back inside until lunchtime, and when the streetlights came on later in the day. Kids could walk to school or to their friends’ homes safely.
I miss those days and try to live as close as possible to those days as I can manage in my own little space and if there were a time machine available I would return there in heartbeat.
The world today is a frightening place. Everyone seems to only think of themselves, countries are caught in a seemingly never-ending war, and even privacy, along with manners and good taste, seems to be a thing of the past.
Indeed, if it were possible, I would return to a better time a never miss these past few decades.
To put it mildly, it’s been a difficult summer at the farm. Our flock of breeding chickens disappeared a few at a time, seemingly by unidentified predators.
We considered ourselves fortunate that at least two hens had hatched a combined total of 28 chicks. That good feeling didn’t last long.
The chicks were born in two groups a few weeks apart, so by the time of the second hatching the first chicks hatched were already big enough to be outside. We kept the new chicks in a large dog kennel for protection inside the hen-house with their Mama until she was ready to leave them alone in the kennel. The two Mama hens however remained inside the hen-house most of the time keeping watch over the chicks.
When Nick went in to collect eggs, and tend to chickens he discovered a black snack with an obvious bulge lying on the floor. All the little chicks were safe, so we assumed the snake had managed to get one of the older chicks which were outside.
Over the next few days he found and removed a couple more snakes before they could feast on our birds.
By this time our flock had been reduced by half the adults by predators. We still can’t figure out how they were taken. The chicken run is made of goat fencing, which has been layered with chicken wire. There is also one run inside another, making three runs. The older chicks were kept in the innermost run. All the runs were also covered above with plastic chicken wire to prevent birds from swooping in and chickens from jumping out. No sign of forced entry anywhere.
A few weeks later when I went to collect eggs and tend to the chickens I was shocked to find all the remaining adult chickens dead, and most of the older chicks missing. The little chicks still in the dog kennel were safe, but terrified. Near their cage were the bodies of the two Mamas and the one remaining rooster.
At this time we have one chicken who somehow managed to survive by hiding somewhere. All the other chicks disappeared after becoming large enough to go outside. The lone hen is now living within the branches of a tall bush near the pig shed. She spends her days with the pigs, foraging and even drinking from their water taps.
The pigs escaped a total of three times during these summer months. First they were gone overnight and were back in their pen the next day. The second time, they forced open their gate and were gone for four days before finding their way home. Three weeks ago they broke through the electric fencing and were gone for 2 1/2 weeks! We figured that’s it…. their gone for good now.
We figured wrong as they somehow reappeared a few days ago and are now back in their new heavily fortified pen. With a bit of luck it won’t be long until they are in the freezer.
No garden, no chickens, run-away pigs …. it has been a difficult summer.
Our little piggies have settled in and have stopped running and hiding when we approach. Now they come running to meet us at the gate where they line up waiting to have their head scratched. They also come running when we call out. They now weigh about 50 pounds each.
We constructed this automatic water from a 55 gallon barrel (it had held peppers and is food safe) and four “pig nipple drinkers” set at 12 inches from the bottom of the barrel. Water flows while they apply pressure to the lever, then stops when they stop drinking.
Total cost for the automatic watered was under $50.