While the modern Farmer's method of taking a vacation trip is usually by railway train or automobile, there are indisputable points in favor of the method given in this article - a real personal experience narration.
The late summer and early fall's farm work - Corn - Plowing - Threshing - Hay harvesting, etc. was all cleaned up, and father decided that the whole family should take a trip to Grandfather's who lived about two hundred miles away. Consequently, on the first day of September, we all climbed into the farm wagon and started. The weather was beginning to grow cold; the team could travel to good advantage and we could better enjoy the trip than at any other time of the year. This was several years ago, and while our outfit served us very well it could be improved at small cost in this day, and would add greatly to the success of the trip.
Our wagon was fitted with ordinary bows, covered with coarse muslin. Ample bedding was stored in the wagon, it having a double box, and several days supply of bread and cookies was provided before the start. Various other eatables also were supplied, such as cold meat, fried chicken, jams, jellies, pie, etc.
A gun and some fishing tackle were taken along, and by use of these the larder was replenished at small cost and with much sport and recreation in fishing and hunting. Nuts, Paw-paws and persimmons also figured in the daily menu. In this way our expenses were practically nothing; the food the most wholesome and nutritious.
We would hitch up the team very early in the morning, while it was cool and pleasant, drive till it began to get warm (usually this was not about noon, and often not at all) then un-hitch for dinner.
Plenty of grass along the roadway, and here we turned the horses to graze, always having a little grain to give them. Dinner usually was a cold snack, with possibly a little game or fish, cooked in a skillet over a small fire. The tablecloth upon which we ate was spread under some shady tree, on the grass, or across some giant stump from which a tree had been cut.
After a good long rest at noon, we would resume our journey driving till the cool of the evening, when we would go into camp for the night. A spot was usually selected near some stream where water was handy, trees plentiful, and wood easy to secure from fallen timber. Here we would build a roaring camp-fire, and another smaller fire on which to cook the evening meal. The camp-fire threw out such a great light that we rarely ever had cause to light a lamp or lantern-and what a cheerful light.
Usually there was some farmhouse near, and here we would secure fresh sweet milk, cream and butter, and ripe luscious fruit. What appetites the travel and fresh outdoor air stimulated, and how we did relish every meal. There is some flavor to this out-door cooked food that is peculiarly its own and with the ravishing appetites one has but to exercise care not to eat too much and the beneficial effect is unbelievable. And what sound peaceful slumbers these combined influences induced; I still can hear the soothing, sleep-producing sound of the horses contentedly chewing their hay near the wagon as I drifted off to slumber-land and and complete rest.
About half-way on the trip we stopped over for a few day's visit with an old uncle; then pursued our journey to my grandfather's, having been on our two-hundred mile trip seven days. We spent a couple of weeks there, visiting, fishing, hunting, nutting, etc; then turned our faces toward home. The return trip was even more delightful than going down, as the weather was still cooler than when we left home. The air more bracing and beneficial. We were just a week on the return trip.
And now comes the remarkable part of my sketch. Our expenses for the entire trip were but Five dollars, and we at all times had all we cared for in the way of eatables, feed for the horses, etc. On few occasions farmers would take nothing for the corn and hay we secured of them, but everything was paid for where we could induce the owner to take pay. Of course, everything was much cheaper then than now, and the cost of a trip would be increased accordingly, but it would be only a fraction of what most trips cost, Looking back now, I can see many ways in which the success of such a trip could be materially increased. I should take along an oil-stove to use in cases of emergency when no wood was obtainable. Where firewood is to be secured, however, the out-door open fire imparts a much better flavor to the food than when cooked over oil.
Our supply of music on the trip herewith described was somewhat limited (instruments were not so plentiful nor so cheap twenty years ago- 1895). On a trip now a days, one easily could include in the outfit a good phonograph, violin, concertina, etc., and the supply of music would be almost limitless, adding greatly to the pleasures of the trip, especially at evening, after supper had been eaten and an idle hour was being spent before bed-time. To the farmer who never spends a vacation, I have this to say: You cannot understand how a trip of this sort will rest and refresh you till you try one.
Relax your mind as well as your muscles, and at the end of your vacation you'll feel more like taking hold of the late fall and early winter work around the farm; you'll have a vim and go about you that only such a rest-period can instill.