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Family Farming Frances Looking Back Podcast TTT Season 4

Season 4 Episode 39: Looking back with Frances on Farming

“There are few left alive now who remember those days.  There were none of the new inventions of tractor driven machinery that became available to the more prosperous farmers in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.  The machinery was horse or mule driven.  For the women, there were no modern stoves or refrigerators.  Milk and butter were kept cold by lowering the items into the cisterns in the warm summer months.  Cooking stoves used for preparing meals made the kitchen extremely and almost unbearably hot in the summertime.”

Frances, My Mother’s Memoirs

Welcome to Tea Toast & Trivia.

Thank you for listening in!

Today, I am joined by my mother, Frances, to remember what it was like to live on a farm in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

We invite you to put the kettle on and add to this exciting discussion.

Thank you for joining Frances and me on Tea Toast and Trivia.

Until next time we meet, safe travels wherever your adventures lead you.

Looking Back with Frances on Farming Tea. Toast. & Trivia.



By Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

35 replies on “Season 4 Episode 39: Looking back with Frances on Farming”

Thank you Dave. I agree – mind-blogging. These past months, I have been recording Frances and her sister Sunbeam (and she really is a sun beam) and have only begun to understand the complexity of life as a farmer during those early days. When he was first starting out, my grandfather would walk 5 miles to another farm to work as a farm hand for 50 cents. Then he would walk the 5 miles home and work on his farm. When I think back to my conversations with my grandparents, not once did they ever complain. Indeed, they recalled those days with a profound joy and a sense of humour. It seemed that was when they felt the most alive. So when I feel that I’m experiencing a “bad” day, I just remember their positive approach to life and that I have a refrigerator.

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Oh, well done Rebecca and Ms. Frances!
Ms. Frances, all the details you gave in your descriptions made every moment come to life. I love oral histories. Years ago I transcribed a couple of WWII veterans recordings for a library project. But it’s the recordings that make it wonderful.
Thank you both for a lovely teatime. Hugs on the wing.

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Thank you, my dear friend for joining, Frances and me for tea! You always add so much to our time together. I agree – hearing a voice brings out a story with vivid clarity. We feel the emotional nuances through spoken words. Sending hugs back your way with swift wings.

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You’re welcome, Rebecca! The LoC is a go-to resource for primary sources to inspire my writing. It’s quite remarkable. I remember the first time I watched someone use dial-up to access the local library’s card catalog. (It seemed like magic at the time, despite how convoluted it was to get in.)

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An honest day’s work. Early to rise—early to bed. I never lived on a farm, but I’ve worked all day bailing hay. I discovered muscles I didn’t know existed. I used to live in rural North Dakota—plenty of farms there.

It sounds like it must have been an enormous task to cook for so many workers, and timing must have been vital without iceboxes.

Thank you for sharing your memories, Frances.

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Thank you for listening in, Pete. Very much appreciated. Sorry for my late response. We have been travelling and in and out of internet connection. I can only imagine how sore your were after a day of bailing hay. I did not know that you lived in rural North Dakota. What a beautiful state – and lots of farms. I don’t know what I would do without a fridge. These women had to be master planners on how to organize food preparation. I wonder what they would think of all the gadgets we have these days. Your book, They Call me Mom, is an excellent example of preserving cultural memories.

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I’m guessing they would find a lot of it frivolous and unnecessary. Instagram? TikTok? “Reality” television? While I love many of today’s comforts, perhaps they have made us a bit softer. Hard to feel sorry for yourself when there was work to be done.

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Thanks you, Rebecca for bringing your mom back to your podcast to bring us back to a wonderful time. And thank you Frances for sharing your lovely memories with us. We often refer to the 1930s as a simpler time, but it certainly wasn’t simple for the people who lived through the era. I have often thought about people like your mom and mine, and all the transitions they lived through.

Living through times when you had to buy ice, perhaps you couldn’t buy ice, and then having a refrigerator in your house. Then one that delivers ice through the door. These are changes that challenge my imagination. I think about all the technological changes I’ve lived through, but Frances has lived through them, too.

She is a remarkable representative of a generation of people who I find to be amazing. They did the hard work and lived through the challenging times that led to the life we often take for granted. We remember a time before cell phones, or when our phone didn’t have a camera. She lived through the time when many households shared a single phone line, and when there were no Interstate highways. Our challenges are so small by comparison.

I am so glad that we now have the technology that allows you to record and preserve her story. It’s one we need to understand. Thank you both!

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Many thanks for your comments, Dan. I apologize for the late response. We have been travelling and in and out internet connection. You have a marvelous way of synthesizing ideas and themes. I have been giving a great deal of thought on how to use technology to record and preserve our family history. I am find that archiving is not an easy undertaking. Your recommendation for Trello has been invaluable, Dan. It has become my go-to space for memory collecting. Cultural memory is an ubiquitous and powerful force in our lives. I believe that your Dreamer’s Alliance Series is an example of recording our thoughts, motivations, and societal values. And on top of it all, you have provided a great reading experience.

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No need to apologize, Rebecca. I’m glad you’re finding Trello to be useful. I think it meshes nicely with the way our minds work. As for my writing, I can’t escape those values. I hope I can continue to find plots to fit them into.

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I really enjoyed this! Frances has seen so many changes in her lifetime, but that she looks back on these challenging times with fondness and interest to this day, is a testament to so many things we have lost too. The necessities that bound men and women together is ever with us, though circumstances have changed. Can you imagine feeding 12-18 men for the entire harvest season?!?! I appreciated hearing about food preparation challenges, as fears about energy failures, etc. may challenge some of us in the near future. Loved hearing the word ‘icebox’ since we still called them that when I was very young! I can’t wait to hear your future conversations with Frances about her history. Positively some of my favorite podcasts. Hugs+++

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Many thanks for your heartwarming comments, Mary Jo. I have been giving a great deal of thought to cultural memories from both an individual, as well as a societal, perspective. I love visiting museums, libraries and art galleries which are key to safeguarding our history, however it is the individual stories that give life to the archival information. I am especially grateful to those individuals who kept their letters and recorded their thoughts in diaries. We look at their life and times through the lens of their experience. We go back in time and yet remain in our present. We live vicariously and, to some extent, take the knowledge forward. The question that comes to mind is – should we keep letters? Record or thoughts and memories? What format should we use, given the rapid advance of technology? So that is the journey that I am on at present.

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Yes!!! Absolutely, Mary Jo. Writing and journaling is essential, especially when written in handwriting. Handwriting is personal, much like voice, and indicates emotion, perspective and how the aging process influences our thoughts and actions. There is a poignancy when I see my father’s handwriting as a young man and then see his last attempts at writing. And now, I see the progress of aging in my personal experience. My handwriting is not as confident as it was in my 20’s. And then there is the typewriter. My grandmother used an old typewriter when she could no longer write. Some letters were pressed harder than others. There is so much to explore, isn’t there??? Exciting!!!

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This was absolutely fabulous! I so enjoyed this conversation. My mother was born in 1934 and she was raised on a small farm. I loved to listen to her stories and I am glad that I wrote many of them down. It is wonderful to hear your mother tell these stories in her own words.

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I am thrilled to hear that you wrote down many of your mother’s stories, Linda. We need to remember and celebrate what came before because these memories inform our lives and the lives of those who follow us. When I look back over my life, I realize that what I experienced is now a part of history that will never come in the same way again. I remember a time before microwaves, cell phones and calculators. Thank you for listening in and for your heartwarming comments.

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It is always such a treat to hear Frances talk about her life on the farm growing up. I was particularly struck by her discussion of the lack of refrigeration–and no iceboxes! I guess I took harvesting ice, ice houses, and iceboxes for granted up here.

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I checked out the history of iceboxes etc in Nebraska and found that in the 1930’s, harvesting ice was in full swing which was based on the needs of meat packing plants and for cooling train cars to transport the meat. Ice boxes were available in the cities but it was more difficult to transport the ice directly to farms located miles from the city, during Nebraska’s hot summer months. But mom’s memories of making ice cream suggests that ice was available at nearby small towns. I read a very interesting article about ice harvesting in Nebraska, which said

“One drawback of natural ice was that the annual harvest was vulnerable to warm winters. “There is a panic among the ice dealers, brewers, butchers and packers just now,” the Omaha Daily Bee reported on January 9, 1882, “and every sort of scheme is being devised to get ice for next season’s use.” An unseasonably warm December meant that “the nearest known ice supply is Manitoba.”https://history.nebraska.gov/blog/cool-nebraskas-ice-industry

Can you imagine transporting ice from Manitoba to Nebraska. Having lived in northern Manitoba, I can confirm there is great quality of ice. When we went ice fishing, we had to dig through 6 – 8 feet of ice.

I love looking back, Liz – there are so many stories….

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Many thanks for listening in, Debby. It is so easy to say the “good old days” envisioning a family sitting around a fireplace listening to someone read a book while the mother knits socks. The reality behind this scene was hard work. Farming was (and still is) morning to night even though we have help via technological advances in our current time. Back then, young boys at young as 6 worked alongside their fathers so I know that your husband experienced hard work.

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