The farmers are employing the new technology of silos

Mr. Northway, Mr. Bourquin, Mr. Verchot, Mr. Hurd and Father furnished teams with hay rigs on the wagons to use in bringing the long corn stalks to the cutter.  The day before the machine came, the extra men arrived with hand corn knives and cut some of the corn, laying the long stalks so they could be easily picked up and placed on the wagons.  Seven o’clock next morning the engine was started and the man on the first wagon loaded with corn handed Mr. Betts an armful of corn, which he fed to the chopper and up the blower went the first fodder for the cows next winter.

The men were paid a certain wage plus dinners (and what dinners!)  Mother was fortunate, as Aunt Rocelia hired Mrs. Hurd to help her each year in preparing the food.  When I was eleven, I, too, helped out.  Dinner and two lunches were some work to prepare.  Mother often had a large chicken pie, three vegetables, jelly, pickles, pie and coffee the first day and baked ham, vegetables, pineapple salad, hot rolls and cottage pudding with coffee the next.

The day the machine went to work, at seven o’clock, Mrs. Hurd started making delicious sugar cookies, while Mother fried a double recipe of her famous fried cakes. Then Mrs. Hurd and I began making sandwiches.  Mother made hot coffee in the morning and a cold drink for the afternoon lunch.  About ten o’clock, carrying baskets of sandwiches and cookies, and Father carrying the can of hot coffee and cups, we went to the fields to give the men lunch and a few minutes of rest.  They had to work fast and steadily to keep the corn cutting machine busy.

Promptly at noon the men came in to wash for dinner.  How busy we were serving them and how glad to rest and eat when they finished.  At three o’clock it was lunch time again.  Mother was always glad to see the last wagon leave after dinner the second day.  If we had rain, what a time!  The men were wet if they tried to work and the cut corn spoiled if left on the ground, so they usually finished what was cut, then waited for a pleasant day.

Corn cutting time was fun and exciting.  Mr. Bourquin Sr., who spoke broken French, always took time to catch a few bull frogs and dress the legs for frying.  He’d bring them to Mother and say, "For de leddle lady." meaning Doris, who was about four years old.  They were good – just like chicken.

When the silo became nearly filled, a shorter man than Mr. Hurd was needed, so Felix often took his place.  One day after Felix had been tramping about an hour, Father climbed the ladder to check on things, and found a heap of silage under the blower, and Felix either asleep or unconscious.  He called for help; the engine stopped and Felix wakened or aroused.  He was so white and ill-looking that the men helped him down the ladder and rolled him in a blanket in the shade.  It was a rule "No hard liquor" when cutting corn, as it was dangerous work around the machine, belts and those wicked sharp corn knives.  No liquor could be found.  It was a mystery what made Felix ill.  He couldn’t or wouldn’t say; he just kept repeating "me dizzy, oh so dizzy".  About two months later, when Father was forking out silage, his fork caught in a stout cord fastened to a support in the side of the silo.  Pushing the silage away, the cord came in sight, and tied to it was a small empty jug.  Its contents had caused Felix to be "ill".  He had smuggled in some "home brew", and no wonder he was "oh so dizzy"!

Earning money on the farm
The Larkin Co. catalogue played as big a part in our young lives as did the Sears Roebuck catalogue in the lives of other youngsters.  We’d look at the pictures of the premiums and long for so many things, but we set our hearts on a lawn swing and croquet set and talked of nothing else.  Money wasn’t plentiful in farm families and we were delighted when Father said to the four of us, "If you will pick up those small stones on the lower half of the upper field, I’ll pay you money to use for a lawn swing, and if you clear the entire field, I’ll add a croquet set".  We were to use Charles’ little wagon and empty it on the stone boat for the horse to draw away later.

We went to work as soon as the field was dry, and by vacation time we had the entire field cleared.  We worked after school, Saturdays and spring vacations; we were sick of the sight of stones.  The thought of the prizes, though, kept us at the task with never a complaint.  Mother sent in the order, and we could hardly wait to receive the prizes.  The day finally arrived when Father took the farm wagon and went to the Winsted freight office and brought home the swing and croquet set.  The entire family enjoyed both immensely, and so did our friends.  During our growing up time, the croquet set was replaced twice and the lawn swing three times.  The new ones we also earned by "getting up a Larkin order".  All our neighbors bought from the fine list of supplies; soap, coffee, tea, cocoa, perfume, etc., and we earned the swing or croquet set for doing the work.

Charles takes up trapping.
The Farmington River, which flowed past our farm, abounded in muskrats and their skins brought in quite a little income if you were willing to work.  Charles bought a few traps and learned how to set them and fasten them securely so that if a trapped muskrat, accidently caught by one foot, wouldn’t carry the trap off and himself slowly die.  It meant early visits to the traps on nippy, frosty mornings before school, but Charles faithfully did this.

Father taught him to skin the muskrats and stretch the skins inside out on special shaped boards to dry.  When ready to be sold, Charles sent for Al Simons, who came and judged their value, and Charles proudly added the money to his bank account.  For several winters he carried on his business quite profitably.  One winter he caught an otter.  He tried to trap the beavers, who had a den in our pond, but they were too smart to get caught.  We liked to visit the pond and catch a glimpse of those beavers.  We often did see them, but they would catch our scent and we’d hear the slap of a flat tail on the water.  They were gone like a flash; gone to their den until we left.


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