Monday, September 30, 2013

RAISING A BIG FAMILY; Part 3; by Maude Meredith, April 1912

Each boy, when he reached twenty-one, was given a two year old colt, one he had selected two years before, and petted and loved; a pair of two year old steers, and a heifer, and a pair of sheep. Quite a start, was it not? Often father kept the sheep and cows, saving the increase for the boy, and having the milk and fleece for the keeping, till the boy wanted to sell them, or needed them on his own place. Charlie had fifteen splendid sheep, I remember, when he married.

That mother of mine was very wise, in her day and generation. She would sit down to get baby asleep, and tell us the most wonderful fairy tales, while we sewed carpet rags. We picked out a good many carpets, but there was always a new one ready, besides we lengthened the lives of our carpets now and then, by putting together the best of two old carpets, and going over it, after it was stretched on the floor with a good bath of dark green dye. We softened our carpets, and added to the floor warmth, by using many thicknesses of paper beneath.

When Madeline was eighteen, the day she was eighteen, mamma had her go cut the web from the loom, that always stood in the toolhouse. Thirty yards, there was of it. I remember Mother turned to Phyliss and myself and said: “This gives me an idea, girls; we'll have a thirty yard web for each girl the day she is eighteen.” The “carpet-rag habit” as Madeline called it had been formed in those early days of fairy tales, so we always kept it up, and on particularly cold or rainy days, every now and then, we all sewed carpet rages in the kitchen, told stories, ate apples, and had oh, such good times. Phyliss had her web, at eighteen. So did I. So did all the girls. And each was given a heifer and a ewe lamb. If it had not been that we married, one after the other, I'm sure father's farm would have been eaten up bodily by the children's stock.

As soon as we girls could sew, we listened to more fairy tales while we made “quilt patches,” until we developed a habit of sewing quilt patches as a pick-up work. These tops we folded away, and as each girl was married they were brought out and quilted or tied.