In the fall of 1979, Mr. Meng had told us he was going to plant corn in the pasture and all around the house. He'd asked us what we were going to do with the horses then. I had no intentions of getting rid of the horses at that time. I wondered what we were going to do. I knew he wouldn't be planting until spring. Every bit of space was going to be planted, there just wasn't anywhere on the property with enough room. There was a big aluminum barn but no place for stables. The selling of the horses was inevitable.
Four months later in April of 1980 Charles told me about a big 2 story house, (three counting the full attic and four if counting the full basement.)It was setting on about four acres. There were out buildings where the people before us had chickens and pigs. The fences around the property needed mending. There was a porch around the house. The inside had hardwood floors and a wooden banister leading to the upstairs where there were big bedrooms and a full bath. The downstairs had a huge kitchen and a half bath by the door leading down some steps to the back yard and the out buildings. It had a huge dining room and a moderately sized living room. We explored the property and decided to rent it at 50.00 a month. The basement had a full sized freezer that was owned by the people who had rented before us and they couldn't get it out. Not sure how they got it in, in the first place. There were big trees in the front yard and at the end of the driveway, a garage. The house was South of Troy on Pottawattamie road. Also in the basement was a huge furnace that had been used for coal and a room off to the side for coal storage with a chute from the outside leading into it. We had brought our German shepherd with us, and bought a malamute from the dog pound. He was real pretty and had one blue eye and one brown eye. We thought about the horses and how they could have moved here with us, but we didn't know about the place then. How sad that only four months later we wouldn't have had the problem of pasture, and where to put them if we'd only found this place sooner.
The furnace had to be heated with wood since you couldn't buy coal anymore. We had to cut wood all year round, every weekend Clyde and Kathryn would come over on Saturdays and we'd go out into the woods and cut wood no matter how hot it was or how cold. It could be ninety degrees outside, common for this area if not hotter in the summertime and forty below wind chill in the winter time. It didn't take long to burn through a room full of wood if the temperatures dropped that cold. There were ducts that ran from the furnace to all the rooms upstairs and down. Sometimes if the wind blew just right the damper would blow shut and the only thing coming up through the vents was smoke. When that would happen Charles would go down to the basement and open it up and the smoke would go out and the heat would come in.
We did some exploring east of the house and found a creek and woods where we used to go mushroom hunting in the spring. Charles built a swinging bridge, just like at The Little Ozarks fishing lake. Its expanse went from one side of a fifty or sixty foot across ravine with a ten to fifteen foot drop below. Clyde wasn't afraid to cross it and I liked to cross it but Kathryn said "No way" was she going to cross it.
We bought chickens and checked for eggs every day. We bought lighting, "won't lay without false lighting".Those chickens wouldn't lay I don't care how much lighting I gave them. Not every day anyway. We bought some shoats and put them in the pig pen, but every morning they would be slaughtered by something. We bought the pigs for 20.00 each and every time, no matter what precautions we took for their safety they would be dead the next day. Clyde gave us 40.00 to buy two shoats for himself and we were supposed to raise to butcher. Those ended up dead too. Chickens were being eaten alive by pole cats trying to pull them through the fence hole that was small enough for them to get through but not big enough for the fat hens to be pulled through so they would eat them where they were. I was especially mad about a fat hen we'd bought from a man in south end St Joseph that had laid over a dozen eggs. The eggs hatched and about 13 little yellow chicks were following her around the next day. After we found the dogs covered in blood and Jenny screaming her head off when she had gotten off the bus and caught them killing the last little pig, (we had been over at a neighboring pond fishing when we knew she would be getting off the school bus and headed home) We loaded the dogs up without a thought of how happy they were about their most recent kill and took them to the dog pound in St Joseph.
We bought some little piglets that were only a few days old from a farmer in St Joseph. They were pink but would grow to be big white hogs. The farmer didn't think we could raise them and that they would die, but I filled a pan with powdered milk, some egg yolks and molasses, a little bread. Boy did those little pigs go to town on that! We got information about how to raise them from the local vet and the feed store in Troy. We had about six of them. Charles' dad used to live in West Virginia on a farm where he had to turn boars into gilts. We bought the Betadine and they caught all the boars but one and cut them. We wanted to keep one boar and raise pigs but the three females had other ideas and wouldn't let the boar breed with them. They got out and I had to go across the road to the neighbor's and ask if he would help me catch them. The thing with pigs they don't herd like cattle. Everyone goes a different direction. Finally they would come back and we'd run them into the pig pen and try to fix the fence where they had gotten out. The little chicks would go through the fence and the pigs would gobble them up like chocolates. The mother hen would cackle and cackle calling her babies back into the chicken fence but it wouldn't be long before they were going through the fence and the whole process would start again. Every chick got eaten by those pigs. A weasel l finally got in and ate that fat old hen too.
I planted a garden in the big garden patch to the north of the house. To the south of the house and north of the pig pen I planted the biggest and fattest tomatoes. I had so many tomatoes that I threw a lot of them over the fence into the pig lot. I made ketchup. It took 24 large tomatoes to make one pint of ketchup. It tasted more like barbecue sauce. It was the best ketchup I had ever tasted. I made homemade bread that tasted like cake. That didn't last long when Charles found it!
We bought another German shepherd. He was a full blooded German shepherd, not half coyote like Lady was. He looked like a police dog you would see on television. He was mostly black and sleek and shiny.
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