Posted by: patwogan | September 20, 2008


I am watching butterflies flying around today as usual.  Some of them are little yellow ones which reminds me of my  Mom’s rule for going barefoot.  I couldn’t go barefoot until we saw the yellow butterflies.

Apparently the yellow butterflies heralded the beginning of warm weather.  The chores of winter still had to be done, but they were more pleasant in the summertime.  That is, except the milking of the cows.  There were lots of flies in the barn and also around the house.  The flies made the cows swish their tails more and also made them kick more while being milked.  These weren’t all just little house flies, there were also horse flies which bit the cows and the people if they got a chance.  They had a wicked sting and were to be avoided.

A major chore in the summertime involved the garden.  Our main garden was across the road at Grandma’s house and was quite large.  It was planted in early spring with lettuce, radishes, peas, onions, and potatoes.  Later on green beans, beets, carrots, and corn were added, as were tomatoes, pumpkin and various squashes.  One of my least favorites was okra.  Anyway, you get the picture.  The garden was huge.  Mom, Grandma, and Aunt Bess would get together at harvest time and can enough to last through the winter for all three of our families. 

At planting time, my job was to plant the seeds, being careful not to plant them too thickly.  I think this was because I was closer to the ground than Mom and Grandma and it was easier for me.  The tomatoes had been started indoors and were planted as plants in the garden.  The onions were “sets” which meant small plants and the potatoes were seed potatoes.  These were bought at the feed store and then cut into pieces, each of which had at least one “eye” or sprout.  Grandma, like Grandpa before her, planted according to the right sign of the moon.  My parents also believed of doing things when the moon sign was right such as root crops at a certain time, etc. 

After planting, the garden had to be weeded.  When the weeds were young, they could be destroyed by hoeing.  This was not a responsibility assigned to me because I did not know the difference between good plants and weeds.  When the weeds grew larger, though, I helped in pulling them out of the garden. 

If you have never eaten vegetables fresh from the garden, you have missed a delight!  I loved raw fresh peas and probably ate more than I put in the bucket.  There is no taste quite like young peas, picked, hulled, and eaten right out in the garden!   The same is true of tomatoes.  I know, they should be washed before being eaten, but keep in mind, in our garden pesticides were not used.   I wouldn’t recommend eating tomatoes right off the vine today, but I probably would do it anyway if I had the chance.

One story I remember about weeds is that one time my father sent my brother and me out to a large field to pull cockleburrs.  This was a chore which he was paying us to do.  We were to receive five cents for each bushel of  plants we pulled.  We took our lunch box filled with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and went to work.  We pulled weeds and messed around and pulled more weeds.  I “fluffed-up” the weeds before we took the basket in to collect our money.  When we got to where my dad was, he took his foot and stomped in the basket and squished the plants back down and sent us back to the field to finish the job.  Talk about feeling “abused”!  From the perspective of looking back, I realize now that we were probably worth just about what we were being paid.  But at the time, I thought he was really mean.  If we had spent as much time working as we did complaining, we probably would have finished the job much more quickly.

Another job I was paid to do was swatting flies on the screened in porch.  It seems the price was a penny for each ten flies and I was on the honor system to report accurately.  At the time I know I was totally honest and if errors were made, such as swatting the same fly twice, it was an oversight.  Well, maybe not  always, but most of the time.



  1. You actually got paid to swat flies on the porch? Ummmm – why didn’t you pass that paid chore onto us?

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