Little Huts In The Field

Today as I rode through the country, I saw some of those little huts in the field. I remember building some of those huts although I was never allowed to put on the top layer.

The huts I refer to are really oats that have been cut and are drying. I remember riding the binder when they were mowing oats. As I rode along, I had to pull up my leg to dump off the small bundles of oats. Dick did the mowing. The little bundles were wrapped with twine. When there were several bunches on the cradle you lifted your leg to dump them off.

The next step was to create the little huts. Dick showed me how to lean them together to get them to stand. That was a tricky situation. It took a lot of practice to get them to stand up straight. The huts I saw today were not put together very well I could tell. The little caps were not put on top the way I had been taught either.

I know the idea was to keep the oats from getting wet. They had to dry before you could thresh them. If the hut was put together correctly the oats did not get wet.

We used to thresh the oats. That meant the big machine had to come out of the barn to be used. Threshing took quite a few people. We handled it as a family. The children were young at that point. They were not able to help much. I do remember my nephew being by the baler taking the bales of straw to the mow and putting them away. I think the reason I remember this is that we have a movie of threshing.

When you are threshing you are removing the grain to be used for animal feed. The thresher separates the grain from the chaff. The straw is then baled to be used for bedding for the animals.

Another person ties off the bags of grain. There is a certain knot that is used so that the tie will easily slip off when needed. The grain is ready to be ground later into feed. Someone was on top of the wagon pitching down the little bundles that came from the little huts in the field. That person forked the bundles into the threshing machine.

Threshing was a hot, dirty job. Everyone got covered with seeds and chaff. Everyone needed a shower after they were finished or a swim in the pond. A good hair washing was also in order to get the seeds out of your hair.

I never see those little huts without thinking of our days of threshing. I think that thresher went for scrap since the thing had a hole in it. At one point we tried to sell it to some Amish to use it to thresh their grain that was before the hoe wore through.

The grain could also be made into flour. Oat flour was good for baking bread. We tried our hand at making it into bread when we had extra. It was not an easy process but it worked.

One year while we were threshing, the children prepared a show for us. The barn was their theater. The door opened and closed just like a curtain would. They called themselves The Clovers. I am not sure where that came from. They even made tickets for us to buy to be able to watch their show. I remember it being cute. Oh, the memories.

I love homemade bread. My mother-in-law made what people called garbage bread. No, there was not garbage in it, but she used quite an assortment of things in her bread. Her least successful try was when she tried to use up some Christmas candy. The candy made the bread sweet but it also made it a funny color.

She really did not use a recipe. Everything she did when she made bread was by hand. I worked alongside of her and wrote things down as she did them so that I could make bread like she did. Well, I make bread, but I am sure it is not as good as Grandma’s.

I like to make bread and rolls. The kneading is therapeutic. I know when the dough is right by the feel of it. I have perfected her rolls. She always rolled out the dough between her hands and then made a knot and rolled that in cinnamon and sugar.

Although it is too hot to make rolls these days, I get hungry for them. As soon as it cools down, I will make batch of homemade rolls.

I can make bread in my bread machine. I have tried many of the recipes that came with the machine. My favorite recipe is what I call Oatmeal Bread. That is my go-to recipe when I need a loaf of bread and cannot get out.

My husband makes fun of the stuff I have around the house. I tell him that I use it all and I know what I have. It comes in handy during the winter when I often do not venture off of the hill. Don has yet to spend a year on the hill during the winter.

If I do not think I can get back home I do not go. We would be able to eat for a long time, but we might have some rather funny meals. Now, most of my stuff is in the freezer. In the old days I had a lot of home canned goods.

Last week Don came home with a bag of cucumbers. He wondered what we were going to do with so many. I made some freezer pickles and a jar of cucumbers for the refrigerator. We also ate some with just vinegar and salt and pepper. Thank you to the person who left them. We enjoyed them.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.


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