GRANDMA'S DIARIES • Feb. 1954–Farm Cycle Begins Again


After transcribing so many years of Grandma's diaries, I am struck by the rhythmic cycles of the farm. Each season centered on specific jobs that must be  finished by the time the next season rolled around. In February farmers  began to check all their equipment and ready the fields for planting. Late spring was the time for planting, summer for the growing, and autumn for the harvest. I swear farmers have always been the bravest gamblers in the world. If they didn't get just the right amount of rainfall at the right time, and the right temperatures, all their hard work didn't matter. Perhaps farmers now are better equipped to cut the odds on their gamble, but 70 years ago the families had to depend as much on their accumulated years of wisdom as on science and technology. As I look back on those years, I also recognize the comfort of the necessary rituals we lived by and wonder if we have moved too far from the natural rhythms of the land.

Monday, Feb. 1, 1954–Mild. We went to Litchfield and found the tractor was ready to bring home. Merle went after the tractor after dinner. We went to the funeral home to see Quincy Robinson. We ordered flowers for him. Got a beautiful bouquet for $6. Merle’s will help pay for it. Randy's charged $54.75 for labor and put $89.56 in parts on the tractor.

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 1954–Cloudy and mild. Sun shone so the ground hog could see his shadow. Carl went to get a hair cut. I thought George and Fern might come. I cooked extra for I wanted to have dinner at noon. We went to Quint Robinson's funeral, also burial at Clear Springs. Wayne's came after eggs.

Wednesday, Feb. 3, 1954–Cloudy, NW wind. Went to Raymond to Shumer, the blacksmith to get a pair plow shares, also a log chain fixed and took another pair of shears to have sharpened. Carl got a fountain pen with name imprinted. Decided not to send payment. Think it is a racket.

Thursday, Feb. 4, 1954–Clear, windy, chilly. I finally got the washing done. I waited for weather fit to wash a bed spread, blanket and sheets. We went to Wayne's after dinner. Wayne and Jake (Mutchler) had gone to Hillsboro to get a new Maytag washer and Hamilton dryer. They fixed the washer in running order and washed Wayne's blanket lined jacket. It washed it clean.

Saturday, Feb. 6, 1954–Clear and mild. Took eggs, Grade A are 45 cents. I bought 100 pounds of potatoes, $2. Came home and did our chores and went to the annual Farm Loan meeting. Had such a nice dinner. The program was fine.

Sunday, Feb. 7, 1954–Mild and clear. We went to church. We had communion. Sunday School followed as usual. Carole asked if she could come home with us. Connie cried to come too, so both girls came. They are so much alike. Have always entertained themselves. Merle and Margie came after them. Connie cried for she didn't want to go home.

Monday, Feb. 8, 1954–No rain. Not enough clothes to wash, so I'll sew and get Alberta's aprons made on time. Dorothy Ward came after a pint of cream. Her sister Marjorie has Home Bureau, hence Dorothy got it for her. She gave me 50 cents for it. I had no idea as to the price.

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 1954–Home Bureau at Mrs. Borgic's. Very good demonstration by hostess and Gladys Weller on ready-mix cake mixes. Carl is disking stalks. Carl bought $1.50 worth of short pieces of lumber to make side boards for his rubber tired wagon.

Thursday, Feb. 11, 1954–North wind, chilly and 26 degrees. Much colder, but no moisture. We need rain so bad. We went to Wayne's. Met him going to Raymond for a tank of water. Carl went along while I proceeded on to visit Geraldine. Cleotis Bethard came. Later he and Wayne reminisced their boyhood pranks. Carl borrowed rolling coulters from Wayne. 

Friday, Feb. 12, 1954–Clear, 14 degrees. Wayne called early. Larry and Rascal, his horse, will be down before noon. Wayne will bring them in the truck.

Saturday, Feb. 13, 1954–Mild. Larry rode horseback most of the day. Carl borrowed John Keith's manure spreader, and Charles Campbell cleaned out the cow barn and dropping boards in the hen house.

Sunday, Feb. 14, 1954–At 9 p.m. 62 degrees. So mild we had the door open while we ate dinner. Larry and I went to Sunday School. Merle went to the doctor at Hillsboro and got his finger released–that is, no more insurance. He can wear a band aid only over the end. 

Monday, Feb. 15, 1954–Windy, mild. I washed. Thought I would iron after supper, but got a short in the iron cord, and it burned in two. Ellsworth Henry put ammonia on the wheat. Merle came and helped Carl disk. Carl plowed on the west 20 acres. Stalks don't go under too well. Wayne and Jake (Mutchler) came after Rascal. Merle quit at three to go haul cattle for Wayne.

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 1954–Rained .5 inches last night. We went to Hillsboro. Carl took a tractor battery to the Farm Bureau Service Co. to have it checked. It's time of service was nearly out. I took eggs to Litchfield after noon, 45 cents for Grade B. Looks like it could snow or sleet. Only a mist. I took my iron to Prossers. Borrowed Margaret's and did my ironing before night.

Thursday, Feb. 18, 1954–Clear and mild. Carl went to Hermann's in Raymond and got the oil changed in the car, $2.  We have 48,000 miles on it now. Left home about 11 and went to Zimmerman's disposal sale of farm equipment. I got my iron, $1.85.

Friday, Feb. 19, 1954–Mild. All day meeting of the Helping Hand at Margaret's. Eight there for dinner. Catherine Osborn had the devotional meeting. We sang three songs. Connie held her book open and sang so loud on one song, the ladies got so tickled they couldn't sing. Took Eliza Turner an angel food cake for her birthday. She is my sunshine sister.

Saturday, Feb. 20, 1954–Bit of rain last night. Cloudy 52 degrees. Today is the birthday of Carole Sue Best–1942. Larry fell out of the hay mow and hurt his ankle. Wayne took him to the doctor. No broken bones. Larry and Linda stayed here while their folks went to Kelly Zimmerman's wedding. Made Carole a birthday cake and took it to her. I sent Alberta four aprons, a brooch and ear rings, and handkerchief. Albert a necktie and Billy a Brown Koko no. 2 book.

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 1954–Rained a bit. I ironed after dinner. Campbell and Williams came to work, but rained so they went home. We went to Hillsboro and Carl got one and ahalf bushels alfalfa, $39; a half bushel lespediza, $16.50; two bushels sweet clover, $19.80; nitrogen, $1.90. Paid $77.20.

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 1954–Clear. Charles Williams and Charles Campbell finished trimming hedge on north side of the farm. After noon Merle came, and the men piled brush with the help of two tractors. Later they burned one brush pile. Merle got an order for 1200 tons of lime to haul. Lime is $3.75 a ton. Williams worked 24 and a half hours at .75, $18.37.

Thursday, Feb. 25, 1954–Cold east wind all day. Merle sowed red clover, sweet clover, lespedeza on our wheat, the SW 20. He was here for dinner. Took about four hours. Russell Pence came at four and tuned the piano. $10 for his work.

Friday, Feb. 26, 1954–26 degrees. Had a skift of snow last night. Carl went to Howy Ward's and got seed oats. John Keith sowed our three acres of oats before noon. I say the moon sign is wrong. Look in July. 

Saturday, Feb. 27, 1954–Looked rainy all day. John Keith sowed the oats. I took feed to have ground for the hens but couldn't get it before noon. I came home and after dinner we took 42 dozen eggs to Litchfield, Grade A, 44 cents. We stopped to see a Ford car that a salesman wanted to sell or trade Carl. Don't think we'll trade. Went on to Barnstables for the feed. Went with Waynes to the ATA chili supper at night at Butler. Big crowd. Program-Minstrel show follies. Rained while we were there.  Mrs. Charles Burris passed away about 9 a.m.

Sunday, Feb. 28, 1954–Rained and snowed again last night, but not much. I didn't go to Sunday School. Didn't sleep but little last night. We drove around the section to see where Orvil Hayes had had hedge fences and trees bulldozed out on the Athe Sammon's place he bought, $14,000 for 60 acres. Horace Fraley's funeral at Raymond. We helped with flowers. Sumner Wilson, T. Taylor, R. Nimmons and us, $1.60 each.

Carole (Best) Brown of Golconda provides Journal-News readers with this glimpse of the past from her grandmother, Mary Edith (Newport) Best, Butler farm wife. Carole may be reached at


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