History of Hazel Johnson Christensen

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The Farm

On our farm I remember the threshing; the heading and threshing.  There were three header boxes, and they would follow the harvester around.  It would have a spout that would shoot the wheat into the header box; when one would get full the other one would come up.  One was unloading, one filling and the other one coming back ready.  The header would never stop. 

They hitched onto horses.  I used to ride in the header box sometimes.  Harrison, my brother-in-law, drove one header box and his brother, Madison, drove one.  Those were the only two that would let us ride. It was kind of fun to have the wheat come in on us.  We would stand up by the driver and we would sure get dirty and sticky. I would get sleepy from the heat, too.  But I liked to go out and ride around.  I was probably about twelve then.

Our neighbor up on the hill from us had a man come and work for him one summer.  I can’t remember his name or anything about him, only that I rode all one day with him on the tractor all around their land.  We didn’t have a tractor, so that was quite the thing.  But I got spots of oil all over me and Mother had a time getting it out of my dress.

Then there was the threshing.  They had the big steam engine come and the thresher had a long belt.  I have a picture in my hall of a steam thresher.  I remember we used to run under the belt.  Father would get after us every time.  He said, “If that belt came off, it would kill you.”  Once in a while they did come off.

We had our farm nine miles out of town.  When we first went out there, we had just a log house with a shanty that we cooked in.  It was a little house with a small living room and a couple of bedrooms, then the shanty to cook in because it was hot.  The shanty had a wood stove.  After a while they built a house.  My brother Lou lived in it, and I lived with him the year I taught school out there.

It was a dry farm without irrigation.  Most of the grain they would plant in the fall, because there wasn’t enough moisture for the spring grain.  When the boys were just plowing and doing other things, they would go out and “batch” it.  I remember fixing up what we called the grub box.  It was bread and staples, eggs, bacon and what meat they could take.  They didn’t have a refrigerator.  They could take fresh meat to begin with, but then mostly ate bacon and eggs.

Edna and Harrison lived next door to us; during the harvest Mother and Edna took turns going out to the farm during the week and coming home on Sundays.  The other one would stay in town and take care of the garden and put the fruit up.  Hattie and I would take turns going with them.  I used to go out on the farm most of the time, because I liked to and Hattie didn’t.  I thought it was fun.

They built a small reservoir for the house.  We liked to swim in it.  It was a muddy mess in the summer.  We had a well for our water on the farm, but we couldn’t drink from it.  It was all right when you were drinking, but the minute you quit, you had a gasoline-like taste in your mouth.  Dad always said he thought there was oil under the farm, but they’ve never done anything about it as far as I know.

Rene, my younger brother, always went out with us to the farm.  We had to herd cows and keep them out of the wheat fields.  We had a little peg-legged pony.  We called her Peggy, because she was stiff-legged.  I would ride her, and Rene rode the old brood mare.  We rode all over the farm.  There were just three or four milk cows, but we had to keep them out of the wheat.  We would take them about two miles from one field to another after the grain was cut.  I was around fourteen to sixteen then, and he was five years younger.

One time when we were out in the field, we were just watching the cows, not on the horses, but sitting.  We saw someone walking across the field.  In our imagination, we thought it was an Indian.  It scared us.  It was my mother coming to see why we were so long coming in.  She was so far away we couldn’t see who she was at first.

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