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COUNTRY ECHOES

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BRANDON WISCONSIN RR-2 53919.

In days gone by, this was the time of year when all activity was geared to the soft throb of a steam engine. Threshing days down on the farm! I can still feel a tremor of the warm excitement.

There came the day when the sewing machine was carried from the house and Mother set up shop in the side yard, sewing up fly nets. Horse flies could be nasty and vicious in August and September. Who wanted a runaway team at threshing time?

These horse blankets (as we girls called them) were sewed together out of gunny sacks. They were gaily lettered with Father's favorite brand of dairy feed. Also we used bran sacks. What a dusty day when these had to be shaken out in preparation for sewing, and then ripped apart. Oh! How we itched and squirmed!

When Dick and Nance were fully bedecked in these (the cheapest thing to be had, of course) they became to us, a steed for King Arthur or Sir Lancelot. Prince and Bess were our second team and when Prince was in the pasture and we'd had a heavy rain to wash him clean, he was snow white and regal under burlap. Yes, we were a dreamy foursome of girls in spite of the rugged reality of everyday survival on the farm.

If the season had been ample with moisture there might be a supply of water left for the steam engine in the marsh ditch. Or, perhaps a nearby creek could supply us. If these failed, we prayed the wind would be brisk enough to provide water from the well. If not, it was everybody to the pump handle. You took your turn, whether you liked it or not. The cows were thirsty from the heat on such a day, and consumed gallon upon gallon of water as they jostled for position at the watering tank.

How they snorted and gulped, their slimy noses nearly buried in the coolness of fresh water. The windmill groaned and pumped, groaned and pumped in the August heat.

I will never forget all the things that accumulated in a much used watering tank. First of all there were squirmy green algae clinging to the bottom and every side. Wagon wheels were soaking their wooden insides back to snugness within confining metal rings. Wagon wheels just mustn't fall apart on threshing day. And there was usually one or two lonely lethargic fish from an 'I only caught one today' fishing trip. How I watched for them in the murky depths of this useful cement enclosure.

A submerged stone crock stood under the entrance pipe. It was just high enough to overflow all day, when necessary, and often into the night. This provided clean water for the humans as they came and went. Nearby we cooled the milk in ten-gallon cans which either stood on the bottom when filled to the brim, or hung by a handle fastened to a rope when only partly filled. These were the problems the half empty cans. And you had better not get any tank water in with the milk if you hoped to sell it.

On threshing day this whole conglomeration became dusted golden as the air wafted chaff, light as winter snow, around each corner of the barn. The swatting-tailed cattle wore saffron rings around their black noses as they lifted them from the tank.

Ah! Such lazy days to dream! That is, until it was time to stretch out the long threshing table and you got called away to women's work. I shall never forget the occasion when the noon-day meal was over and my mortified mother discovered two heaped-up bowls of snap beans which she had forgotten in the warming oven of the wood and coal range.

I remember thinking, 'And we worked so hard picking, stringing and snapping those beans and here they didn't get on the table.' Ah me! What a blow! Mother grumbled half the afternoon about her own stupidity. What must the men think of such a skimpy dinner? Needless to say, we fed them warmed-over beans for supper.

This year, 1975, on an April day I served warmed over sauerkraut and potatoes to some guests from North Dakota. It brought to mind Mother's snap beans. What a pleasant visit we had with Albert and Mary Ann Rennewanz who stopped by as they passed through our country side. It was Mary's birthday and they had a cake for the event in their camper. So between the s.k., cold cuts, and cake, we had a satisfactory meal. Albert worked as chief engineer for Swift & Co. in Detroit Lakes, Minn., then at New Rockford, N.D. They also have lived in Georgetown, Delaware and Decatur, Illinois. I believe they also mentioned Montana. Now they are back at New Rockford and participate in the Steam Show there. He has built a free lance engine and thresher about two and a half feet tall.

In the process of becoming acquainted we learned that Mary Ann originally came from our town, Waupun. When she told me her fore bearers were Glendennings I about jumped from my chair. 'Why my neighbors are descended from Glendennings.' I exclaimed. We ran it down quickly. Yes, they were related. There was no doubt about it.

So we had a family reunion following our sauerkraut and cake, and second cousins (or thereabouts) met each other for the first time. They talked about Aunt Eppie and several other shared ancestors. Then took down each other's addresses so they can further climb the family tree.

Doesn't God give us lovely surprises along life's away? I never cease to marvel at this. Right now we are involved in a County Wide Evangelistic Crusade trying to bring more souls into the Family of God. Singing in that large choir is a real thrill, and one of these nights I may get a chance to deal with an individual. So it's a Great Summer, even though the grain will be combined in 1975.