Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Old Time Farmers

This picture was taken just North of Sargent, Nebraska in 1886. It shows a farm family in front of their Sod House. I really am enjoying this series of pictures this week. It is easy to find lots of pictures from the Civil War, but it is hard to find many pictures from 1865 to about 1900. It is especially hard to find good candid pictures of the frontier life. These pictures really capture a lot of detail about life in that era.

20 comments:

  1. Nice series of photos about praire life. Today's society could learn a lot from these self-reliant people. A simple melon was probably a treat for them. Ice cream would have been unheard of.

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  2. AH, watermelon (and those two mules are in for a treat too.) This may be your best week yet. Home, family and hard work makes life meaningful. Thank the good Lord for these fine and noble people.

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  3. I wish I had a cow on my roof.

    sigh........

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  4. In your last post some one suggested that they dried the sod and burned it. I don't care how dry you make dirt, it isn't going to burn.
    Now peat is another matter, it will burn because it is made of organic things like grasses and weeds.
    Those are some big melons thst they have on the table. I would guess that they came from their own garden. One looks like a watermelon and the other looks like a muskmelon.
    I noticed that the 2 boys and at least one woman were bare footed.
    Is that cow really standing on the roof?
    R

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  5. What I've noticed about your series of farmer pictures is that they are all standing apart. Never are they bunched up close together.

    Maybe it's the lack of showers.

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  6. Public snuggling was not the style then. I don't think they stood far apart because they smelled bad. It's just the way they took pictures then. Give folks more credit, they weren't that dirty! If they had enough water to grow big melons and water the livestock, they had enough water for simple hygiene. (Gray water can always be poured on the garden.)
    When men come back from the field they stripped their shirt and washed in a tub. While the men were out working, the women fetched water to wash in relative privacy. In winter, ablutions were done next to the stove.
    Kids who went barefoot washed their feet before bed.

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  7. I like how the cow seems to be levitating over the house.

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  8. A Google images search for 'cow on roof' shows this photo at nebraskahistory.org . The farmer's name is Sylvester Rawding and he has a lump on his forehead. There is more to his story that you could read for yourself. Judi

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  9. R - if you read my comment; I said they burned MANURE - a long ways from burning dirt. Actually manure burns fairly hot and takes quite a while to burn out. It tends to die down and smoulder. There was no good wood sources, no coal for fires on the plains. In this picture, note the cow on the sod roof.

    Now for a comment on this tractor, I don't think you would risk getting close enough to those pricey solar panels with the tractor or brush hog to do you much good. It's a good old fashioned weed-eater job I fear.
    Merideth

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  10. The cow isn't standing on the roof. It is on the slope of the hillside behind the house.

    Wait, wait - don't call me a kill-joy yet. I also thought it was standing on the roof too until I viewed the photo in large format.

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  11. To Merideth in Wyoming, I agree with you that they did use cow chipsto burn. I was refering to the very last comment from yesterday, talking about drying the sod to burn.
    R

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  12. I wonder if they got to see the photo. If so did they chuckle at the image of the cow seemingly standing on the roof.

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  13. When I was a kid, I read Cather and Rolvaag and wondered about burning chips, so I burned dry horse manure just to see how hot it would get. It was pretty hot and long lasting. Cow/buffalo chips must be even better because they are denser.
    It smells OK too after it's dried in the wind & sun for a while. (We didn't have cattle, just horses, ergo my choice of fuel. ;-)

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  14. Well...the cow is sort of standing on the roof - the house is built against the bank.

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  15. As an aside to the 'cow on the roof' scenario cow manure applied fresh also makes an excellent and odourless floor surface inside the house which will last several years. Correctly applied, dried and cared for one can achieve a good shine on it. In rural areas of Africa, parts of Europe and Asia it is still in common use as flooring material.

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  16. That's right! Cowpie linoleum - you can't really tell what it is.

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  17. I love this picture. Those are pretty great looking Melons.

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  18. This photo was in my history book when I was in grade school (about 1967).

    R's comments quite interesting, but I'll vote for a dirt floor 100x before manure. I don't care how dried it is. It's still .... manure.

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  19. These are my relatives :)

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  20. This is a famous Nebraska photo still talked about today because of the cow on the roof...hill.

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