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Growing Up On A Small Farm 1944 - 1949

By Col. Carlis B. Wilson

A Days Pay - Fifty Cents
In the year 1939 times were hard and jobs scarce, a day's pay was fifty cents, working on the farm for those that needed help which was not to often. Sometimes the supplies would get rather low before there would be another payday. It was about that time my stepfather decided to make a trip to Indianapolis, Indiana, hoping to find work. In trying to get money together for the trip he ask me if I had any money. I said yes, I have fifty cents of which I loaned it to him. In a short time after finding work he sent word for mother to come to the big city. They rented an apartment and both worked at factories.

Stayed In Adair County
Our parents thought it best to see if they could get us settled in with some of our relatives back in Kentucky. With mother and step father Dello Roe working, they could pay for our keep and we would have the liberty of farm life in Adair County, Kentucky. Moms sister Hattie Bea and husband Gallium agreed for us to staying with them. Aunt Hattie and Uncle Gallium had five children at the time which made eleven in all. We lived in a small house with living-room-bed room combination, polar, large kitchen, two bedrooms upstairs and a large screened-in porch. There was a large barn, smoke house, chicken house, and brooder house. (The forty-five acre farm was recently purchased by the Moss family.) The farm had not been worked for some years. It was grown over with small trees, briars, and fence rows were all grown up with bushes and vines and in need of repair.

First Day On The Farm
Our first day with them was March 3, 1944. I remember it as if it was yesterday. The first morning on the farm must have been Sunday Morning, I was up bright and early and down the stairs all excited to get started with my life on the farm. When I woke my relatives they said you can go to the barn and feed the stock. That would be the beginning of five years working on the farm for a nine year old boy. Beside the daily chores such as carrying in water and wood for the day, there were cows to milk and horses, mules, hogs and chickens to feed. Getting ready for the day's work usually involved gearing up of the horses or mules and equipment for a days work in the fields.

Mule Named Beck
In those days teams were used to do a lot of different jobs on the farm, I remember a mule named Beck. She was about 14 years old and a good worker for an adult to work, but when a young boy would work her she would sometimes not corporate so well. When it was time to clean out fence rows we would hook a chain around the small saplings and have the mule to pull it while we cut the roots. Beck was very good at this kind of work no lines or reins needed just speak to her and she know what to do, that is if you was an adult. I was working Beck one day cleaning out fence rows and after she pulled out a few. Beck had something else in mind, when Beck up-rooted the sapling, I hollered woe but Beck began to run to the barn and did not stop until she had reached the barn.

Old Beck Pulls Tricks Not Sled!
I remember another time, when I took her across the small creek in front of the house to haul some fire wood. Things went well on the way over the creek, I was on her back and she was pulling a small sled to haul the wood. When I loaded the sled with about twenty five small sticks and spoke to Beck to pull the load, she stretched and groan and did not move the sled. I threw off ten sticks and said get up Beck, again she stretched and grunted but did not start the sled, again I threw off five more sticks and said gut up Beck, again she stretched and groan, but no go. By now I am sure the load is not too heavy for her, I pick up a stick and came at her when she saw me with the stick she started the load and ran toward the house. I hollowed woe, woe, but she just ran on and only stopped when she crossed the creak. (Knowing that I would need to wade the creek to get across.) As I look back on it today life was hard and the days were long, but we had fun taking care of all the farm animals, hunting, fishing, working the fields, visiting relatives and neighbors on the week-end.


This story was posted on 2003-10-21 17:39:42
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