happiness

Edna’s story 14 (FGK 131)

Our water here still comes up from the well by the creek to the old house (Annie’s house mentioned here) and then across to Grandma’s house (where I am), then over to the cottage. It also is the water source for the barn and for my cousin’s place.

Chapter 3

The War Years

We finally dug a ditch to Annie’s house and go the water in 1938. Just a cold tap in the kitchen and a slop bucket beside the sink for a year or so. Then we dug a septic tank east of the house and put in bathroom fixtures and hot and cold water. That lightened the workload but we were still very, very crowded, especially at meal times. Finally the men had time to dismantle an old house in the area and built a lean-to over the kitchen door where we put a big table and used it as a dining room, down three steps from the kitchen. About then we got a battery-set radio. It was wonderful to get the world news every day, but becoming very disturbing to hear it. Then one day in the fall of 1939, the news that we were all dreading to hear came over the air. We were at war! It really shook us more than we ever expected it to. The happy carefree talk at mealtime was changed a lot. The whole outlook of our operation as a ranch was changed. Two of the men joined up and went overseas. From then on we just hired older men and the Indians helped us when we needed extras. The government urged us to raise hogs and grow as much food as we possibly could. I began to buy my chicks and turkey poults from the hatchery and raised larger flocks of poultry. Before this we had so few eggs all winter I always put the summer surplus eggs in water glass to preserve them for use all winter. A rare treat was to have fresh eggs for breakfast Christmas morning.

Percy decided to go into hogs properly. He built a prescribed round brooding house with a stone in the centre and separate pens out from it. It really was a neat setup; it housed ten brood sows. We had a little mill run by the old John Deere tractor with lugs on it, Model D, and chopped our own grain. Those pigs were an awful amount of work; extra chores before and after the day’s work. The men fenced an area down to the creek for them to range on but every now and then they would get out. I remember a couple of younger boys on the crew just couldn’t sleep in the bunkhouse because the two older ones snored so loud. They said one snored so loud they raised the roof and then the other one let down again. So these boys took their blankets and slept out on the hillside on a fine night. Once they were awakened by a big old sow rooting against them. The snorers sure kidded them after that.

When the ten sows were furrowing someone had to be on the job day and night. One young sow went mad and tried to destroy all her little family. She was frothing at the mouth and tossing the poor little creatures in all directions when Percy went in. He picked up three that were still alive and brought them into the house to see what I could do for them. Two just lay still and groaned but one had a large triangular rip in its side and almost two feet of entrails hanging out. It was squealing quite lively. I got a needle and thread and wound the intestines around my fingers and carefully tucked them in and swerved it up and fed it warm milk. I kept it in a box in the kitchen for a few days, the other two died. Finally it got too lively so we gave it to a gentle sow who could handle one more. That little pig grew up and raised two families of her own before we sold her, but she always had a funny hollow in one side.

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