Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tullybrackey 2 Takes Shape

My mother and dad named our farm in future years Tullybrackey after my grandmother's country home [Kirby estate] in Ireland.
Family Home on the Kirby Estate Bruff, County Limerick, Ireland with Vines in Fall Color

At one time there was a cellar door on the south side of our home, approximately beneath the living room window. One summer afternoon the sky was darkening and the air was mighty still with a ghastly silence [birds know, I think]. A storm was brewing. We would soon learn these were signs of a tornado.
Cellar doors

Dad hadn’t arrived home yet but the 5 of us opened the slanting cellar doors and retreated in safety into the earthen basement, closing those doors above us. The storm soon arrived and raged overhead. We heard many loud and frightening sounds.

Silo fell collapsing the new Milk House

After the storm passed followed by a period of stillness, all above seeming OK,  we dared to emerge from our place of safety. Beside our barn stood 2 twin wood stave silos like the one in the picture. They were there when we sought safety in the cellar. Looking around the yard we discovered both wooden silos lay down flat on the ground. We had heard the frightening sound when they dropped, we thought. Many times after that,  whenever we saw a storm approaching from the west, down into that cellar we would go. We learned to watch the sky for weather. Nothing like this ever happened again. Those silos were never  raised. 

Barn before being painted day of the cyclone

Between the fallen silos to clean up,  the red cow barn needing paint, eventually tearing down the horse barn, pulling nails from the boards, along with our gardening chores,  learning to can and freeze foods, mowing lawn, our chicken care, later our calves, our sheep, watering trees, working the land for crops my dad had provided enough work for his children to keep them occupied daily right on through high school years. We often heard the words ‘an idle mind is a devil’s work-shop’ and I took it to heart. I recall the only time when no chore was hanging over my head was the annual Triore [3 hours] radio program from Gesu Church, Milwaukee on Good Fridays.  We were totally free to relax, sit back with the radio station  tuned in and participate in the liturgy. On one particular Good Friday I recall  as soon as the hours were over I had to head for the wood pile and ’get to work’. Constantly demanding chores. Doesn’t mean I didn’t go at them like a kid. I did. I can see my father's face as he frequently reprimanded me.

There was this train station, Milwaukee Road, out in nowhere [Hebron Siding] where dad would flag down the  train to Chicago, climb aboard and onto his job at American Printing Ink Co. After a bit of time the siding stop was abandoned. Dad then caught the Chicago Northwestern from Richmond 7 miles away into Chicago. Dad was successful in obtaining what we called, ‘the Tower’ at the siding. Since it was abandoned he had it moved to a piece of land just north of our red barn . He dug out and then poured a concrete basement for the building, with our help, of course. There was always lumber work to do but no electric saw. If you were to drive past some day you will see the old Tower building, kept up and being useful to the present owner. At one point we used this for the rooster house. There were plans to one day turn the building into a cottage.

Daddy would require one of us, taking turns, to go to work on a job with him so we could ‘fetch the nails’ or ‘hold this board’, 'shovel in gravel and cement into the mixer'. Sometimes the entire family sat around watching, visiting, especially on Saturday mornings.  On days such as that I would get out of some hanging around time  by volunteering to go to the house and get lunch ready. Elayne will tell you I got very good at making great white sauce, one of the first things we learned in Home Ec, Senn High,  to be used in many, many dishes. Times like that I was a real crowd pleaser. Later mother encouraged me to major in Home Ec in College as she saw this as an aptitude rather than my escape. I know now my major should have been social science. All alone we learned to pour some of the walkways with a good mix of rich cement up to and a bit around the house.  When the red barn was painted white Elayne and I did it after school. Dad would move over the extension ladder each evening and tie it down safely so we could paint 6 more boards. 6 by 6 by 6 by 6 until completed. I am quite sure he did his painting bit, too. We were ‘the club’ always and everyone did pitch in.

We needed to plant crops after the renting families left. Daddy purchased a Farmall-H,  a small farm tractor. It had big lug wheels. It took 2 of us to start the tractor for we needed to turn a crank up front and diddle with the gas feed to the choke on the side. Time and again we would flood the line and have to wait a while to try cranking some more. Exasperating.
Jim adds: Quite a photo of the steel-wheeled Farmall, except our's didn't even have fenders.  I remember arriving home from school one Oct. afternoon only to be amazed at this glistening RED machine parked just west of the old milk house.
One Sat. I literally walked behind Dad plowing with it in the 40 acre piece in front of the house; but at the time he was plowing quite near the boundary with Seamans. I just couldn't resist watching it turn that earth over and hearing its engine at full throttle - everyone thought I'd be exhausted after doing so for several hours until lunchtime came, and Dad came in. It sure was Red, and steel lugs because rubber couldn't be had owing to the WWII rationing. We weren't to get rubber tires until 1946 as I recall, and a battery, starter, & lights.  Only then did we find out to our dismay that it didn't even have the 5th (road-gear as they called it) installed at the factory in anticipation of eventually having rubber tires. We had to have it installed later even after the rubber tires.        
Just connected my thoughts with those later years starting the gas lawn mower. Finally, we would succeed. We hitched the plow to it sometimes. We would try our best to turn over a straight row of earth with the plow. Cultivating and dragging the earth were much easier operations for us. Elayne was quite successful. After the ground was well prepared we would plant the seed, oats, wheat, corn, soy beans. Dad did most of it yet he was grateful for any amount of acreage we could cope with. It all added up. When crops matured we would get involved in harvest-- mowing, raking, stacking or filling the granary bins with oats and wheat.

Reminds me of a small grove of mature and dying trees which stood at the curve in the road. We worked on those, also. Sawing and hatcheting were required. I recall an injury I sustained when I struck my right knee with the hatchet blade. Odd that memory returns. And then there was a mature hedge of lilacs up the hill from these trees which grew alongside a house foundation. Lilacs were easy to transplant. We transplanted starters around our farmyard. In later years we would plant an entire hedge around a home in Orland Park, suburban Chicago.
This is our Farmall on Rubber

One summer we ordered a tennis net for fun on the side yard. Balls didn’t bounce so well on the sod and we grew discouraged. Kept the net, the balls, and the rackets for years. Summer evenings we would ride bicycles up and down our road. Wonderfully welcoming were the changing cool temperatures up or down hill after a muggy day. The property was very gently rolling-- like a gently rolling golf course. Below see cousins growing up.
Front-MaryAnn, Alice, Bill, Mary
2nd row-Barbara, Judy, Florence
3rd row- Karen, Jim, Tom, Doug, Jack

Howie, Florence, Jim, Ceil
One summer when the cousins were young we held a reunion weekend at Tullybracky. I have no remembrance where each slept or what we ate. Wasn’t my responsibility, you understand. I know we pitched in and nothing was catered.

A calf dealer would routinely make his rounds among the farms in his small calf truck to buy calves any farmer didn’t want, bull calves or surplus heifer calves, to take to market. Daddy made a deal with him that when the dealer came across an exceptionally good animal he would save it from slaughter and sell to my father. Jim tells me: It became standard occurrence to have local farmers call with news of a nice heifer calf they'd like to see grow up to a nice cow rather than face slaughter by selling to the calf-buyers. This is the way dad built up a very nice herd of high grade cattle. We must feed and water the calves. When they matured we had their calves to feed. Milking became a project.  I was in college most of this time.

Jim and his prize 4-H calf

Jim shares about his calf: It was a bull calf sold to us by Lizzie Burgett for just the purpose of inbreeding our grades with a registered bull as time went along.  I don't (not sure) remember the exact name of the organization of Holstein Breeders. "We by then, had so many grade heifers it wasn't feasible to attempt replacing them with purebreds. So the bull matured, became very large and was used to sire; but eventually even he was considered too large - perhaps dangerous, so was sent to slaughter at some point. He was registered but that was it."

 "I still have that plaque somewhere in our holdings - 1948 as I recall. Shortly thereafter we simply had to acquire electric milking machines as we were really getting labored doing 13 of them by hand twice a day. It was quite an occasion to snap on the vacuum pump and commence hanging those Surge Milkers on our darling pets - we had names for each and everyone of them." We bought a cream separator also and had whipped cream at all our meals.

"In my memories it will always start with the Feast of Immaculate Conception, 1944, when upon ascending the hill to our driveway on way home from school, amidst the 1st snowfall of that season, there appeared to all of us a mysterious black ball on the snow, among the 3 Heinz 57 Guernseys huddled in what was the tile drain access hole, [in that 40 acre field in front of the homestead.] This little black bull calf became MIDNITE, the 1st of some eventual 50 to 60 head of cattle raised by us over the next 9 years."

At one point in time we had 2 sheep. They were so sweet though at times ‘Ramer’ could get mighty uppety and want to attack, that is, to butt us with the horns on his head. I would wonder why he would become so cranky. Was it jealousy or protecting his mate?
Nice picture of Elayne snapping beans or chucking peas
A woman on a farm up the road, Mrs. Burgett, had visitors this certain week. She and mother arranged for me to walk over and assist her with the kitchen chores. When the job was completed she paid me off in fertile duck eggs. I found a clucking hen to sit on the eggs for hatching. S’pose to hatch in a fortnight. Maybe I didn’t keep track. Time came when I grew impatient and seeing duckling was about to leave its shell I began to pick it open. I learned to let nature do her job for this duckling was now dead due to my interference. Lesson- 'patience is a virtue'.
MaryKay and dad

I have this nice picture of my daddy and me. I loved him very much. This is a very early photo I see. The house hasn't been brushed and painted. I can see the cellar door [later closed up] and a tiny fir tree by the front window. I think I see a tiny American elm about 3' tall to my right. So much yet to be done. Because my hair was so thick and long enough I braided the front sections, crossing each atop my head and pinning down with bobby pins, a bit like a crown and very comfortable. I used a 'pro-curler' for many years to curl hair with bobby pins. I have it in my drawer today.

Mother, Jimmy and Billy on a cold morning. See long bridal wreath hedge in the rear.
Off in the distance is neighbor Pat Barrett's farm. He played 'Uncle Ezra' for years on WLS


1 comment:

  1. I remember that abandoned silo pit on Granddaddy's farm. It was kind of fun to look down into it (under some sort of cover?) and then crawl into it, but we had to watch out for the nettles. Funny how most city parents (including me) would be terrified if their kids did that.


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