Don’t you just love family time. Those conversations with loved ones who shared your past. The little tidbits you share that jiggle loose memories you either had forgotten or occurrences of which you had no knowledge. Well, I just did some of that jiggling time with my sister June. You would think after all these many 70 years that we would have talked it all out. Hm. Maybe not.
The eggs cost under a dollar for a dozen back in the 50s. Now let’s see. Total cost of raising them would include the cost of birds, feed, gravel, bedding, gathering eggs, washing eggs, packing eggs, cleaning out the hen house and putting up with the nasty creatures. Yet, Mom and Dad scrimped and saved every penny to feed and clothe their daughters.
I’m not sure of the cost of rabbits back then, but we raised them, fed them, cleaned the hutches and cuddled them as often as possible. As with the chickens (you never wanted to get attached), they were off to market as well.
Dad also raised cows, sheep and sometimes pigs at Granddad Loxely’s farm. They required all the same only in larger amounts. The sheep offered wool to sell as well as an occasional lamb. The cows were given a reprieve if they were good breeders. Their calves were not so lucky. Food in the freezer and a little more money in the bank. Sometimes very little.
Crops varied year to year. The bank account grew or diminished as well. Some years we wore clothing longer even though they got shorter. In a good year we got something new. As with all things on the farm, a lot of money seemed to go into the various animals and crops with the return not so dependable. It was the way of farming. It was the way of raising a family.
Last week June and I got into a conversation about muskrats. I know, only farm kids would talk about muskrats, especially if you lived by a creek. Dad set out his trap and checked them each morning I thought that he was just trying to get rid of the critters. June informed me that he sold the furs; he checked the trees at night for raccoons. What!?!?!? I had never seen a dead muskrat with or without a pelt anywhere on the farm. It was indeed news to me. If Dad was lucky, he would get a fox. Well, this seemed to be a case of farm-underground. Who in the heck bought these pelts? Some hat maker back behind the Palace?! I envisioned a trapper I had seen on Daniel Boone. Then I tried to picture Dad as one of them. Nope, didn’t work. I have no idea what the pelts were worth, but it was another effort to add cash to the cash box.
I am amazed at what I learn about my wonderful parents who gave every bit of their lives to their daughters. They suffered defeat. They struggled against health conditions and poverty. Yet, in all of this, they never lost their sense of kindness and pride in what little they did possess. I never had a beaver hat or a fur coat. But I lived a charmed life. I had a bounty in my backyard and an even bigger one in the love of my parents. They built a life on hard work and small change. They certainly went as fur as they could go.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.