When Mom and Dad moved to Olympia, Washington, Dad had great expectations of becoming a farmer. He had high hopes of being able to support the family with his farming business. He began his journey by renting an old white horse that belonged to the Shelton’s, who was a neighbor from the next farm over. He then started to plow his fields and planting his crops. His main crop was raspberries, but he also planted Logan Berries, Young Berries, Black Cap Berries and pumpkins when in season. Mom had her own garden, which Dad helped with for the family consumption. She became very skilled in canning vegetables and fruits. She also made jelly from the various fruits. Dad was aware and Mom came to know how to make a meal out of what was available from the picking that day. I often admire this skill. Meals were always very tasty.
By watching their Grandparents and parents my siblings learned how to harvest the foods in order to put food on the table or to sell by the road side. The kids started to help when they were 4 and 5 years old. The family would pick the ripe berries together from Dad’s crops. Alanna remembers she received her first silver dollar picking two crates of raspberries. She was so excited that she ran through the house showing everyone the money she had earned. Alanna, Janice and Henry were given baskets to helped gather the vegetables from the personal garden. The plants grown in the “little garden” were peas, dill, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, squash, onions, garlic, and lettuce to name a few. Janice, loved the peas, eating more than a few along the way. When selling their harvest of foods by the roadside, there would be a table and a sign making people aware that fresh produce was for sale. Alanna, Janice and Henry sometimes had their own little stand next to the big one where they would sell flowers that they had picked from the garden. Alanna considers this to be her first job.
Selling a small box of raspberries on the side of the road for 20 cents a pound really did not make much profit for a full house of 5. Later Dad was able to sell some raspberries to the local Olympia Cannery if they were in need of more berries for their business.
Mom and Dad also raised chickens on the farm. I’m not sure of how many chickens they had, but the coop and hen house in whole was only about 20 feet by 20 feet. The children were taught how to gather eggs from the nest. There was a rooster who was very territorial. It would chase Mom and Henry each time they entered the coop. The chickens would provide meat and eggs for the family. They sold the extra eggs to the neighbors and some to Mom’s fellow workers at the State Capitol where she worked.
The family raised pigs as well on the farm. My siblings would walk down to the pen to visit with the pigs. Janice remembers watching the family butchering a pig for food. They would do this once a year. When it was harvested Dad’s parents and siblings would be in attendance. They would all get their share of the pig.
Mom was always giving names to the animals that lived on the farm. Tangerine the cow, a Guernsey, all brown with lovely brown eyes, provided milk and butter for the family. Alanna loved to walk down the hill, toward the forest and past a small mound of chucked oyster shells to the barn with her Father. They would enter the barn together, where her Dad would sit on a stool and milked the cow. This was a special time for Alanna, as she had Dad all to herself. They would talk when there all about things that were interesting to them at the time.
It was simple times where the family would have to find ways to provide food. They also had to make money for things that were needed to survive. Life was not easy but they were a family unit that loved and worked together to make a happy home.
Leave a Reply