Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Part 4j - House and Land

The Old Barn & Lots

The old barn was located to the Southwest of the garage. As you entered the hallway, in the center of the barn, the large corn crib was to the right. There was a drop down door; about 6 feet above the ground used to unload wagon loads of corn into the crib. I remember once that Daddy had filled the corn crib with cotton. Joe and I dug tunnels all through that cotton. It's a wonder that we didn't get smothered crawling under there. Just inside the crib door is where the sheller box stayed. When we shelled corn to feed the chickens, we'd just pitch the ears of corn into the box as we shucked them. Then, we'd crank the old sheller as we fed ears of corn into the top. As you turned the crank, the "spurs" on the wheel would turn the ears round and round and knock the grains off the cob, then "kick" the cobs out to the side you were standing. The shelled corn was then dipped into a bucket and fed to the chickens or, sometimes to the hogs in the fattening pens. The cobs were gathered up to use as kindling to start fires in the stove. That is if they weren't used as missiles for some of our "corn cob wars" in the hayloft and around the barn. Sometimes, the nice, fresh, smooth cobs were even used in the place of toilet paper! Next to the crib, there was a door leading up to the hayloft. To the left, as you entered the stairway, was tightly sealed "room" where the two saddles and bridles for riding the horses were kept. This room was sealed up to try to keep rats from chewing up the leather. Further up the stairway, on the top of the saddle room, there were two nests where chickens would lay eggs.

The hayloft ran the length of the barn, and was fairly narrow. Bales of hay were stacked on each side of an aisleway to give access to the hayracks that were built in each of the three-mule/horse stalls and the five cow stalls. These stacks were altered from time to time to build fortresses preceding a big corncob war! There was another stairway to the South, or cow side of the barn. There was one chicken nest on that side. Just past the stairway door, continuing through the hall of the barn were three mule stalls. During my time, the first stall was Red's (the horse), then Jim's and John's stalls. A stall was built under the shed, at the Northwest of the barn for Pinto, and was torn out after Pinto was sold. Along the left side of the hallway were the cow stalls. All of these stalls had doors opening to the shed along the South, or cow side. The fifth stall had doors opening both to the cow side and into the hallway. The cow stair was next, opening to the cow side. The next room was the Bean crib. It got its name from being the place that velvet beans were stored. These beans had to be allowed time to dry, then put into croaker sacks and beaten to knock the beans out of the shells. Then, they were put into a tub. Someone would stand on something high, like the wagon, and slowly pour the beans into another tub while someone else was fanning away the husks with a big piece of cardboard. This was repeated as long as it took to get all the husks out. The problem that called for this work was that cows would choke on the bean hulls. The Velvet bean crib was also used to store cotton-awaiting time to take it to the gin. The last room to the left of the hallway was an open slatted Gear room. This is where all the mule harnesses, collars, haims, traces, britchens for pulling the wagon, etc. were stored. The open slats were to allow air to dry out the sweaty harnesses as the afternoon sun shone through the cracks. Each set of harness was hung on a bracket nailed to the East wall. On the cow side of the barn, past the stairway was another door into the bean crib. At the end of the cowshed was the Cotton seed room. Mainly used for storing cottonseeds until they could be crushed and fed to the cattle or used as seed for the next year. There was always some sort of junk stored into that room. Also, for some reason, the room had a partition down the center of it. In later years, Daddy built three more stalls to the left of the cotton seed room. The "Break," a chute that was just wide enough for a cow to enter was located at the East end of the lot by a large black walnut tree. A cow would be driven into the break, then a pole or pipe would be slid across behind her to keep her from backing out. Then we would have access to "breaking" the cow to being milked. Some cows were very easy to break, and could be milked most anywhere, but others would never stand still to be milked unless they were in the brake. The cane mill was located about 50 feet South of the cow lot. More on syrup making later.

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