ELK: Home away from Home
My second home was at Keville and Gladys’ farm near Elk. Whenever transportation could be arranged my bags would be packed and off to the farm. Their oldest son was about four years younger than I was and their youngest children were toddlers. Life on the farm was a great adventure every day whether keeping the kids occupied for Gladys, helping with the chores, or assisting Keville on some of his projects. There was plenty of time to explore and wander also.
Gladys always did the milking. She would have me run the milk through the separator, churn butter, help make cottage cheese, and hang it out to dry. We collected eggs from the nesting boxes in the barn. Some of the yard hens would build nests in quiet areas away from the house and barn. Locating their nests and collecting the eggs was also one of my chores. The nests we missed would be hatched into chicks.
Keville had several acres of good pasture enclosed with an electric fence. Often after a good rain the fence would be grounded out from wet weeds or branches making contact with it. He would send me out to walk the fence and clear everything away. Getting shocked was a pretty frequent part of learning this chore. You’re standing in wet grass trying to pull weeds or branches which have the fence grounded. Doesn’t take long to figure it out. Regardless of the weather, you always returned to the barn with a sense of accomplishment and the fence working.
The farm house was heated with wood. Filling the wood box, chopping kindling, and shaving some pine pitch for starting the fire was a chore done to help Keville. On cold mornings I would have the fire started and the stove hot before anyone else got out of bed. It wasn’t long and Gladys taught me how to make a pot of coffee. A wood fire and coffee perking on a cold morning are as good as it gets.
The chores on the farm weren’t considered to be work. They were just part of your daily life. In my case, they were a way to help Keville and Gladys while showing my appreciation for their allowing me to be a part of their life on the farm.
The farm was about a lot more than chores……..there were very few places on the forty acres that hadn’t seen my footprints.