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Chuck Hinman. IJMA No. 111: Evening Chores

It's Just Me Again No. 111 Evening Chores
The next earlier Chuck Hinman: Chuck Hinman: IJMA No. 045. The Counterpane Is Chuck Hinman your favorite Sunday with CM columnist, as many tell us? If so, we hope you'll drop him a line by email. Reader comments to CM are appreciated, as are emails directly to Mr. Hinman at:

by Chuck Hinman

It's an Indian summer evening in late September 1934. All three of the Hinman kids are home from school and have had a snack before starting evening farm chores.

There were eggs to gather in the chicken house. They were brought into the vestibule of our house where Mom kept the wooden egg crate. Each layer of the crate held three dozen eggs and the crate held 6 layers or 18 dozen eggs. We sprinkled a coffee can of corn on the ground and called the chickens making dumb chicken sounds like "Here chick-ee chick-ee chick-ee" in a falsetto voice. Even the chickens seemed to grimace!

After the chicken chores were done, one of us kids led by Sport, our collie dog, went out to the pasture to look for the milk cows and bring them in to be milked.

Getting the cows was one of my favorite chores. It was a beautiful time of day in southeast Nebraska when evening was setting in. We had already had several frosts and the fall foliage on the distant rolling hills was gorgeous especially the reddish sumac and the goldenrod. It was an artist's and hunter's paradise. Cottontail and jack rabbits were still in abundance. It wasn't unusual when bringing in the cows to stir up coyotes, pheasant, and quail. Hunting season was still several months away so the wildlife was fearless. Every thing was so beautiful, peaceful and serene, it would be difficult to let it all pass through your senses without acknowledging that God is responsible for all this beauty.

When I arrived back at the barn with the cows and calves, the barn door was open. Bob and Dad had things in readiness for the milking to begin. The cows entered the barn and each knew where their stanchion was. Isn't that amazing? Bob lined the feed troughs at the head of the stanchions with alfalfa hay from the hay mow overhead. The calves were fed in the adjoining feedlot along with the six horses -- Dick and Diamond, Fannie and Major, and Peach and Dolly.

The sun was just going down as Dad turned on the barn lights. That turned on the barn radio which was tuned to the radio station that carried the popular "Amos and Andy" and "Lum and Abner" radio shows. Dad said the cows gave more milk when the radio played music. I don't know about that.

We each milked three cows. In addition Dad "took on" the most difficult job of milking the wild Holstein cow called "Crazy Heifer." She kicked any thing that moved. She even got her feet in the milk bucket until Dad put the kickers on her! The reason he didn't get rid of her was because she gave the most milk.

When the barn was being readied for milking, the barn cats began to arrive and take positions hoping to get one of us milkers to squirt milk in their direction. They were experts in not letting a drop of squirted milk hit the barn floor. Our barn cats should have been on TV. And of course Sport was not forgotten when milk was being doled out. I can still remember how funny he looked with milk on his whiskers!

The milking part was over and we carried the ten gallon can of raw milk to the vestibule for the separator process. That took about 15 minutes. In the meantime we men were cleaning up for a supper of good old potato soup, corn bread, and warm peach cobbler and whipped cream.

The evening chores were completed when about nine o'clock PM the loser of the last game of hearts between "us men" had to go down to the barn and let the cows out in the feed lot for the evening.

Sometimes I feel sorry that we Hinman kids were not able to participate in school sports because of farm chores. But looking back I wouldn't trade anything for the daily thrills of growing up on our fantastic Nebraska farm. Thanks Dad and Mom for a matchless heritage and home. -Chuck Hinman

This story was posted on 2011-02-13 13:19:21
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