The blog tour will start later this month, so watch for the fun to begin!
To set the mood, I thought I’d share a bit of my research I gathered for the book. Stories from my grandpa about life on the farm.
Grandpa Fred loved to trap. When he was fifteen and sixteen, he spent most of his time trapping. Even years and years later, he could tell you exactly how many of each kind of animal he got on some of his good trapping expeditions. He often trapped muskrat, coon, and coyote. Great-grandpa Coulter would buy traps for Grandpa Fred. Grandpa Fred would also make his own traps. To make a trap for a raccoon he would build a narrow box. Inside the box he would hammer in nails, pointing downward. He’d place food in the bottom of the box. Smelling the food, the raccoon would put his hand in to get it, but then the raccoon’s hand would get caught on the nails when he tried to pull it out. Grandpa Fred said he caught many raccoons this way.
Grandpa Fred said that one year there was a steer eating his family’s corn. By the time they found out about it, it had already done $75 worth of damage. When Great-grandpa Coulter took the steer back, he told the owner that he’d have to pay for the damage. The owner refused. “That’s okay,” Grandpa Fred said. “My dad didn’t get upset. We just had beef to eat!”
When Grandpa Fred was a boy, his family had a crank phone with a party line. That means that anyone who picked up the phone could hear your conversation! Grandpa Fred said that it was dangerous to be near the phone when there was a storm. If lightening struck the line, and you were too close, you could get knocked to the floor! Grandpa Fred said that you’d have a warning when a storm was coming though, because the phone would start to ring! Imagine that!
One year, Grandpa Fred said that for Christmas his father ordered flooring tile for their house. The cost was $115.95 with shipping. They had to drive 10 miles to Wheaton to pick it up. (The Coulter Farm was close to West Marlin. Topeka was about 100 miles away.) Grandpa Fred said that it wasn’t a bad drive to Topeka. There were good roads all the way. They’d simply have to drive 15 miles, then hit Highway 104. Highway 104 took them the rest of the way. The drive was even easier when they got a new Ford in 1931.
Grandpa Fred said that the weather was nice in Kansas. It was in the 80s in the summer. But it would snow as much as 15-20 feet in the winter! All you could see was the tops of the telephone pole sticking out of the snow. This made it easy for travelling though, and they went cross-country to town. They couldn’t find the roads, so they just walked on the top of the snow over everything!
On the Coulter Farm, they had 21 milking cows and 40-50 cattle. These cattle were out in pasture, south of the farm. The south end of the farm was used for grazing. The north was used for hay. The Coulter Farm had fields of alfalfa, corn, and wheat. There were also flat lands and small hills. In one area, they had four black walnut trees. The Coulter kids would dry them, crack them, and use a needle to get the “goodies” out.
After they harvested the wheat, they would take it fifteen to twenty miles away to the flourmill. There they would get it ground into flour. The cost? Half of the flour that was processed.
On the Coulter Farm, in the summer, they would grow strawberries, peaches, apples, and gather eggs. They would sell these for money. They would also get money by taking 5 gallons of cream to the creamery, every day. They would keep enough cream for themselves to make cheese and cottage cheese. They also had a large garden where they grew peanuts, turnips, and even grapes! They would trade these things in town for sugar, flour, coffee, and salt. And there was always lots and lots of potatoes! They would pick them by the wagonload.
On the Coulter Farm, they had running water in their house. There was a well down from the house. They also had a reservoir and a water tank. There was a pump that pumped the water from the well into the tank. The pump got its energy from a windmill. This is how they watered their horses and cows.
Then the drought came. It was the 1930’s and the Coulters couldn’t raise anything. After sticking it out for five years, they finally had to sell the farm and leave. They moved to California in 1935, settling in Gerber, which was a far as the steamboat could take them up river. Great-grandpa Coulter had found work there.
Grandpa Fred was very happy in Gerber. He worked with his father until 1941—then Uncle Sam contacted him.
“I need you,” Uncle Sam said.
“No you don’t,” said Grandpa Fred.
“Yes, I do,” said Uncle Sam. So Grandpa Fred went to war.
After training, he was stationed in Australia. From that moment on, Grandpa Fred’s childhood was over. He was a man now . . . and the Coulter Farm was simply a happy, distant memory.
Share your families stories with us! Leave them in the comments!