PCHA asks for photos of old-time farmsteadsFirst came the barn—with additions made for it—over the years.
First came the barn—with additions made for it—over the years.
The herd was small at first, but grew from 10 to 20 to 40 or 60 and later, in more recent years, to several hundred cows.
There was the horse barn and maybe a straw barn. This was a lean-to-pole shed covered by the straw stack, at threshing time.
A calf barn for the youngsters, not the little plastic pop sheds or covers used today.
There was a brooder house, 12 x 14 or so in size, often on 6 x 6s so it could be dragged around to grassy patches. This was used for the baby chicks (with a brooder warming stove) until they became pullets and began to lay eggs. Egg money was Ma’s source of income.
The pullets graduated to the hen house—where rows of nests were set up with maybe a door in front and entry for the hens from the floor behind. Boards were set up for the hens to roost upon. Most hen houses had south-facing windows. Sunshine and a thick bed of straw (cleaned weekly, usually) gave warmer living conditions.
The pig shed and pen—most places, being as self-sufficient as possible, had a few hogs—with a pasture area so they could root around and have a wallow of mud to cool off. None of these high-tech slatted concrete floors and automatic feed and water supplies existed 60 years ago. That old sow could be nasty and mean as all get out.
The Granary: oats and barley and sometimes rye were stored there, in partitioned boxes. Often, the building was raised off the ground on pillars in such a way rats and mice couldn’t easily gain access.
The Smoke House: home-cured bacon and ham and sausage, too. These were made by grandpa and grandma. The size was small, maybe 4 x 6 x 4, and such. But those home-smoked hams were great and so was the bacon cured in large crocks and such.
The Ice House: not all farms had this building, but if there was a river or pond where ice could be cut, hauled home and packed in sawdust or straw, the family then could have an ice box where food could be kept chilled, thereby staying a lot fresher longer.
The Fruit and Vegetable Cellar: Usually located under a corner of the house, where fresh things could be stored in barrels and boxes. Potatoes and such. Carrots could be set into sand, along with parsnips and such. Those 10-50 gallon Red Wing crocks of sauerkraut were down there, too. As well as Ma’s hundreds of jars of canned fruit, meat, juice, jams and jellies as well as vegetables.
The Machine Shed: where grain binders, planters, hay rakes, early balers and tractors were stored.
The Shop: Grandpa had the grindstone for sharpening hay sickle blades and maybe he was also a blacksmith, so there might be a forge.
The Out House: Until maybe the 1950’s. This may have existed in any location, preferably fairly close to the house. Finding one standing these days is not an easy task.
The Well House or Spring House: used to hold a tank for cooling the milk and such and also keeping butter and other perishables. Filled from the well by the windmill.
The Water Tank: usually located by the barn. It was kept filled with well water for the horses and cows. And as a swimming hole on boiling hot summer days. Slimy green and all.
Garage: maybe—for cars and family pickup trucks.
Gas Pump: Free standing with glass top where the amount of fuel was pumped into from the in-ground storage tank, and gravity fed into the vehicle.
Virtually every critter on the place had some kind of shelter, dependent upon the prosperity level of the owner. But these days, not too many farmers are this independent nor are farms equipped with so many buildings.
The issue is: does anyone have old-time photos of any of these buildings or the whole old-fashioned farm that included silos and corn cribs and such?
If so, share. Good photo copies can be made on machines found in many grocery stores, etc.
Bring to the Pierce County Historical Association (PCHA) office, lower level of the Ellsworth Village Hall, on Mondays and Thursdays between 1-4 p.m. or on Fridays, 1-5 p.m.
Or mail to the following address: PCHA, P.O. Box 148, Ellsworth, WI 54011.