Monday, November 8, 2010

The Harvest Season Memories

Today, my thoughts are of my wonderful mother.  It is her birtday and were she still with us she would be 98 years old.  I'm sure she's in a better place and happily watching over us just as she did when whe was here on this earth.  November is special to me because I always am reminded of the special person who was our mother.
November is also a special month of thanksgiving.  It is also commemorated a a month of the harvest although the harvest in the Bear Lake Valley was usually over by November and often the ground was already covered with snow before the month was over.  As with all of the other months of the year, November holds special memories for me and I'm for other members of the family.  Our family worked hard to make sure that our harvest included enough bottled fruit and vegetables to get us through the winter.  That was no small task for a family of eight.  We didn't always depend on what we could buy at the grocery store in town.  My personal memories are of Mother shelling peas and canning almost anything that would fit in a bottle.  I remember not only the traditional fruits and vegetables, but venison stew and bottled meats and chili beans etc..  I remember also butchering pigs and putting some of the cuts of meat in a brine and spice solution to soak.  This had two major purposes.  It gave the meat a special tasty flavor as in ham and bacon and it also was a way to preserve the meat in the days before we got a freezer.  Some of the special things that Mother canned and put away on the shelves were Mom's Chili Sauce.  Pickled Beets, and I even remember her bottling mince meat which was used for an occasional special pie.  I remember planting potatoes and in the fall digging them and then tyring to keep them for use later in the winter and early spring.  We had to work at it, but I'm sure no one ever went to bed hungry in our home.  Sometimes it was potatoes and milk gravy with a little bit of sausage.  This was especially good with some of Mom's home made Chili Sauce.  I even like it to this day.  I learned to like bread and milk of which there was always plenty.  Mother was an outstanding cook in spite of not always having a lot to work with.  She could make an excellent meal out of what we would now consider to be very meager ingredients.  The smell of Mother's home made bread when we came home from school, is a memory which will fondly linger in my mind until the day I die.  Home made bread a a slice of cheese always tasted so good.  I also remember fondly the home made cookies, the Yorkshire puddings and rice puddings with raisins, as wonderful pies of different kinds which were served on special occasions.  One thing I don't think I appreciated as much as I should have at the time was the fact that for many of my growing up years Mom did all this cooking and baking in a wood fired stove.  Just keeping the fire burning was in and of itself no small task.  It seamed we were always scrambling to find a few extra sticks of wood, so that the bread could finish baking or something else could be cooked completely.

Below are pictured some of my favorite tastes and smells form our kitchen.

Home made bread 5-6 loaves twice a week.

Home made Chili Sauce.  I loved the smell of it being cooked on our wood burning stove.  It tasted yummy too.  We always bought a few bushels of tomatoes from a peddler who would come around in the fall.  Mom made those tomatoes last all year, chili sauce, tomato juice etc.
Beets were one thing we could grow well in Bear Lake Valley,  Mom bottled them as a vegetable and also as Pickled Beets which I especially liked.

Another favorite memory of the harvest season was when we harvested the grain (wheat and barley.)

Dad always hired someone who had a combine to come in and harvest the grain.  I remember so well sitting in a big truck full of wheat eating raw wheat by the hand full.  It actually tasted pretty good. And the smell of the freshly harvested wheat and barley is a lingering memory that just wont go away.  Dad always worked very hard to get a good crop and then to get it harvested in a timely manner.  I remember one year in particular.  The barley harvest was very good.  I can still hear Dad telling me that his crop that year yielded nearly a hundred bushel per acre.  Such was unfortunately not always the case due to lack of water and untimely frosts. Most of the  grain was sold as a much needed cash crop with some being retained for feed for the animals.

A bumper crop of barley, this was used as a cash crop, but also as feed for the animals, pigs, chickens
and cattle.

by Bart

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