Sunday, December 18, 2011

COUNTRY GIRL STORIES; part 4; 1915

This girl is from a big ranch in the Northwest:

This morning I was wakened by the sun as it first shone in at my window. As it was only a quarter to five I covered my eyes for one more nap. We have cool nights, but yesterday it was 104 in the shade. Soon I heard Papa get up, so I did likewise. I built a fire in the kitchen range and cooked my own breakfast. “Cookie Sis” was not up and Papa does not eat breakfast.

I thought the rest had slept long enough, so I turned on the water near the house and began to carry wash water. That got them up. While my water was heating, I gathered the clothes, swept four rooms, irrigated a little on the garden, and picked up chips. Then I washed—they call me the “family laundry.” I must be somewhat Irish, too, for I must have everything in the house and on me washed clean.

At noon I was still washing. While waiting for dinner, one of the hired men struck a bargain with me. He is to bring down his spring and summer collection of seventeen dirty shirts; I am to show him how to wash them and then I may iron them. I promised because I believe in helping my neighbor, because this fellow sometimes takes my sister riding in his new buggy, and because he and I have red hair.

Dinner was good even though served on our decrepit ranch dishes. We are running three kitchens. We have good meals always. We eat well and work hard for what we get here in the West.

In the afternoon I finished the washing, helped clean the house, and mended. After three o'clock I sat here in a cool room by an open window watching Papa mow alfalfa and the men stack grain. The children were in swimming. By and by one of my chums drove by on her way home from town. We visit thus mostly.

Supper at six. I ironed before and after as long as the irons were hot. Now at sunset my work is done. But Papa is irrigating—that takes twenty-four hours a day.

This was a typical working day; but it would have been as natural for me to have described one of the six days last week when I spent ten hours a day hoeing corn. To-morrow we girls will put on overalls and shock hay! Don't let it shock you—we live in the West!

The trouble with farming is that the days are not long enough for work or the nights long enough for sleep.