Thursday, June 13, 2013

Barns, out houses, sewers and nails, rice and raisins.

The farmhouse we moved to had a great old barn but it was sold to my Auntie with the farmhouse when we moved into the basement.  The basement had 50 acres of property.  I don't know how much property went with the farmhouse.  My mom learned to milk the cow in the barn that went with the farmhouse.  The basement was an open format house in ways.  The front room, dinning room and the kitchen kind of formed an L.  The bedroom formed another L.  It was not really intended to be a long term living space but eventually the basement of at three story house.  I can remember the long ladders that daddy would stand on as he framed in the upper stories.  He was so busy building the basement and house, and working that he didn't have time to build a new barn for the sheep and other animals.  My mom decided that she would build a barn, I think my dad may have laughed at her assertion that that was her goal and she took it as a challenge.  She took us kids to the teepee burner at the mill, where dad worked and we got mill ends.  We would stand at the shoot and pick the 2 to 3 foot boards out of the shoot as they were going up to the top of the teepee burner.  It didn't take long and we would have a whole pickup full of them.  We took them home and thru them in a big pile.  We didn't really understand how mom was going to make a barn out of such short pieces of wood.  Daddy was using long boards to make the house.  I think half of the fun of helping mom was the puzzle it presented to us.  Once the pile was a mountain of mill ends mom started nailing them into a big rectangle.  I don't recall what the foundation was,  I think maybe it was a cement footing that dad may have had poured at the same time the basement was poured with the idea that he would get to it after he built the house but I don't know that for sure.  Anyway, mom started nailing the mill end together end to end and then one on top of one another like bricks.  It still looked like a puzzle to me.  People all over the neighborhood would come by to see what my mom was making, some would laugh and some would be supportive but most just thought she was a little crazy.  I think that the building of the barn began a compulsion in my mom, I can't remember ever living in a house again that mom didn't build something, tear down a wall or do some kind of reconstruction.  My mom became the contractor in the family and my dad just built what she wanted, but I digress.  Mom built that barn in a really short time, it was 20 by 40 and before long all the sheep were happily living in there new digs. 

We had an out house that dad had built but he decided to build a sewer for the basement and house to be.  I remember it being a big square in the ground, he had had big hole dug in the back yard when the basement was dug.  A giant machine had actually dug it because it was to big for him to dig.  The big square he built had four walls and a roof but no floor and it was just in front of the old out house.  I remember him leaving a square hole in the top of it, he later put a pipe into the hole.  He had just finished the last board and was going to start working on more walls on the house when he couldn't find his box of nails.  He looked in the hole and sure enough his box of nails were in the square sewer box and he couldn't reach them through the little hole so he had to take some boards off so he could jump down and get the nail.  He got them and then put the boards back on the square box.  Funny thing when he got it all build he put pipes on it and then cover it all up with a dirt.  The pipes were hooked to the house.  I don't think I really knew what it was as a child it was just a funny thing dad spent a lot of time on just to bury. 

The building took a lot of time in both mom and dads lives, especially with dads work and all us kids to take care of so mom was into making simple things for us to eat during the building we ate a lot of rice and raisins.  Dad doesn't like rice much and sweet rice and raisins didn't rate all that high on his rating system but us kids liked it a lot so we won out, that and the fact that it was easy and quick to make. 

Rice and Raisins

4 cups cookd rice......Mom cooked the rice in the regular manner, but since mom was still learning to cook and was an exact scientist in her measuring it varied from runny to dry.  You can make it nice and fluffy, sometime mom got it just right and ours was fluffy to.
1/2 cup raisins stirred into the rice once it was fluffy, if you put the raisins in to soon the blow up like grapes... we liked them better like warm raisins.
1tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup of butter, stir both in with the raisins.

Dish into bowls, sugar to taste, pour milk over and eat.   Makes me happy to eat rice and raisins, but for the most part I am with my dad and don't eat much rice, I do like brown or wild rice but mom had no idea what those were back then.  She was probably not alone in that, white rice was what American woman served in the early 60's, the hippy generation had not come along and taught us to eat granola, or twigs and nuts like Poppie calls it.  We were happy with our while rice and white bread, did anyone eat anything but Wonder bread back then?? Sadly just this year we witnessed the demise of Wonder Bread.... but there is hope it may be back, not that I will buy a loaf, I haven't eaten Wonder bread in probably 25 years.......

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