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Old 11-10-2007, 12:17 PM   #1
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ISO info on 1930's farming

I am writing a book about my parents lives as they were growing up and how they got together. My dad grew up on a farm in Iowa during the 30's, and while I have my dad's stories, and have done a lot of research on line, there are many details I'm not sure about.
If any of you had parents or grandparents who were farmers back then, I would appreciate any information you might remember about farm life back then.

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Old 11-10-2007, 12:36 PM   #2
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Miss Connie... Are there any particular things you are interested in?? Specific questions?
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Old 11-10-2007, 06:27 PM   #3
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Really, anything about farm equipment and the way they did chores.

For one thing, I have a question about windmills. I know my grandfather had one, and my dad told about how sometimes the lights would be real bright, and at others they would flicker and go out. But my husband says they just used windmills to power the pump on the deep well, that they didn't have the technology to use it for electricity in the house.

I also remember Dad telling about how they chilled the milk in the deep well, but I never asked just how that worked. From what I remember, there was just a pump, with maybe some kind of wooden structure around it. That was after they moved to town, though. I never saw the one on the farm. Do you suppose they had some kind of chilling tank adjacent to the well?

Right now, I'm into picking the field corn. I know they did it by hand, but I'm wondering about how they shelled it. G'pa did have a tractor, although he still used horses for a lot of things. Was there some sort of tractor or horse powered machine that they used?

I'm also wondering if anyone has an idea of how many bushels per acre they could get during a good year back then. Iowa wasn't in the dust bowl.

I also find I'm lacking in knowledge about the wood cook stove my Grandmother used. The only thing I know for sure is that, in the winter, it would get cold enough in the kitchen at night that the water in the "well" of the cook stove would freeze up. But was there any way she could regulate the temperature in the oven or the stove top? Didn't some of them have a separate oven for bread?
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Old 11-10-2007, 06:35 PM   #4
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One more thing...I know g'pa planted an acre of potatoes for their own use. Does anyone know about digging an acre of potatoes without fancy machinery? Did they use a plow to loosen the ground? Was there some kind of special attachment other than a plow they might use? Did they have some sort of rake attachment to pull out the potatoes, or was that done by hand, with potato forks?
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Old 11-10-2007, 07:46 PM   #5
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Miss Connie.... On small farms of that era, the Old box mounted "BlackHawk" hand cranked sheller was very popular. I have on in my shop that I use to shell corn for the grist mill. As a small child at my Great-Grand Father's I loved to turn the crank and shell corn. He told me one time if I didn't stop, I would shell the whole crib. I'm sure there were commercial shellers in that era as well. Also, there were many different "hand" shellers that one could use to keep your hand from getting sore.
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Old 11-10-2007, 07:55 PM   #6
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I know the internet is easier to access, but have you done any research at your local library, as well as any local museums?
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Old 11-10-2007, 08:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Constance
I also remember Dad telling about how they chilled the milk in the deep well, but I never asked just how that worked. From what I remember, there was just a pump, with maybe some kind of wooden structure around it. That was after they moved to town, though. I never saw the one on the farm. Do you suppose they had some kind of chilling tank adjacent to the well?

Miss Connie...Rather than a well it may have been a Cistern. An underground holding "tank" to collect and store rain water. These were dug out and lined with bricks and mortar. Sometimes the water was filtered (charcoal) before going into the Cistern. Above ground would have been a round/square brick/wooden structure with a wooden 'lid" to keep out leaves etc. Often times an old well pump would be mounted on this lid to pump water out. Milk was often times placed in containers and lowered into the cool water. These Cisterns were usually built near the house so they could maximize rain water collection, and for convenience.
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Old 11-10-2007, 08:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BreezyCooking View Post
I know the internet is easier to access, but have you done any research at your local library, as well as any local museums?
There isn't much available here, Breezy, and since I'm stove up and don't drive any longer, I'm pretty limited in that area. I do have the number a friend gave me of "Uncle Thurmond", who is 80 years old and been a farmer all his life.

Uncle Bob, you are giving me just the kind of information that I need! The info about the corn sheller is great.
I also think you're on the right track about the cooling tank, except I know for sure it was a deep well they used for this. (G'pa was very proud of that well...it never went dry.) Perhaps they were able to set up the same sort of system, using the well water? They did have a windmill powered pump on it.
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Old 11-10-2007, 08:44 PM   #9
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PS...What did your grandpa great's corn crib look like?
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Old 11-10-2007, 09:00 PM   #10
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The Corn Crib was just a room within the larger barn, made from rough sawed lumber. There was an outside (big) door of course to facilitate putting the corn in the barn from a wagon that came from the field. I would "guesstimate" it being 12 x 16 feet. It may have been much smaller, because I was looking at it through the eyes of a child. It was full of corn banked to the back. Just inside the door was a corn box with a Blackhawk sheller mounted on it. Corn was shelled mostly for chickens that were running loose everywhere. There were also a couple of resident Chicken Snakes that would scare me to death!!! My great-grand dad would just brush them out of the way. He wanted them for rodent control in the crib
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