17 January 2008

Thursday Thirteen: Farm Chores before Breakfast

By Jacquie Rogers

In the Old West, farm chores lasted from dawn to dark, and even after dark, mending clothes, soaping leather, and that sort of thing still had to be done. This list is typical of what a family would expect to accomplish before breakfast. The day starts just before first light, and remember, they didn't have central heat.

1. Start the fire in the stove.
2. Pump and heat water for washing, and get dressed.
3. Feed the chickens.
4. While hens are occupied, gather the eggs.
5. Pitch hay to the horses.
6. While horses are occupied, check for injuries and clean the stalls.
7. Grain the steers.
8. Grain the cows and milk them. (This counts for all thirteen items. You wouldn't believe how tired your hands get.)
9. Separate the milk, store the milk and cream in the spring house, and wash the buckets.
10. Feed the pigs and nursing calves.
11. Pump water for all the animals.
12. Get the field equipment ready so you can hitch the horses as soon as breakfast is over.
13. Wash up and cook breakfast.

Even today, farmers have to do about half these chores before breakfast, but electricity has definitely made watering animals and milking cows much easier.

Farm breakfasts were no meager affair. A typical menu might be bacon, fried eggs, fried potatoes, biscuits and gravy, strawberry preserves, oatmeal and cream, and coffee. Then again, they had worked up quite an appetite. Besides, after breakfast, the hard work began.

Ah, I do love living in the 'burbs!

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