As I Remember It: Chores and Chickens

Every Saturday I changed sheets in three bedrooms, vacuumed rugs and dusted furniture.  In exchange for that, I got a weekly allowance of 25 cents.

The cows were milked twice a day and the whole milk processed through the separator with the resulting products of skim, skim, so-white-it-was-pale-blue milk and thick cream that could become butter or whipped cream, or be recombined with the milk on cereal.  Washing the hand-cranked separat0r was my regular job as well~~every day in summer and every other day in winter. It could be washed only every other day in winter for the simple reason that with the cooler temperatures in the basement, the remnants of milk wouldn’t go sour.

I remember the big top bowl where the milk was poured, the dozens of disks through which the whole milk would flow, dividing itself (by weight) into skim milk and cream and the spouts that it then flowed out of into a cream pail and a milk pail.  Mom would occasionally tease me with the assurance that she “would let me wash the separator”~~it was a universally hated job.  I understood that I had no choice.  So I never complained about it.  Much.


When we cleaned chickens 75-100 at a swat on a summer day to prepare them for butchering and packaging for the freezer, my brother and I would be responsible for picking them.  The dead chickens (dispatched by our Dad) would be dipped into scalding water, which loosened the feathers ~~so they were dead, and soaking wet, and they stunk (think wet feathers).  From death to freezer had to be accomplished all in one fell swoop to prevent any chance of them going bad.  We never had a chicken go bad before it got in the freezer.

My favorite meal was fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, beans-with-crumbs-on, baked corn and apple pie, and bread (real butter) with rhubarb jam.

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