Sharing fond recollections of farming in the good old days

Tuesday, June 15, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. The OMOTM start arriving early enough in the morning to wake the chickens, because some OFs still wake up for milking although they haven’t washed an udder in years. This causes one to think, what time do those who work in the restaurant get up to be ready for these OFs?

If it weren’t for the weather, how would the OFs start a conversation? With the OMOTM, the weather requires somewhat of an honest answer.

“How ya doin’?” doesn’t cut it because most of the OFs lie to that one with the answer, “Hey, I’m doin’ great; how you doin’?” Then comes another fib.

On Tuesday morning, many of the OFs listened to the radio, or TV, or read news reports on their phones about how some really wicked storms were coming through. These reports mentioned towns they lived in — including the times these storms were expected to arrive.

The OFs talked about how they prepared for the storms, by moving outdoor furniture, turning outdoor tables over and anchoring them in place — all this stuff. What did the OFs get for all this effort? Sunshine — not a lick of a storm. Where did it go?

One OF complained he dumped a good set of hot charcoal just ready for the hot dogs and burgers. Well, at least the OFs had the weather to talk about (or lack of it) as promised.

Speaking about the weather, the next OMOTM’s breakfast will be a couple of days after the longest day of the year. Father’s Day, and the Gas Up will be on the longest day.

That longest day, Sunday, should not be here already, according to the OFs. It is too soon. The scribe thinks somehow we should be able to put an anchor on time and slow it down some, or at least stop it for a while.


Old times

Get a group of old farmers together and, just like a group of old soldiers, they talk about old times; old farmers talk about old farms and what it was like in the “good old days.” Those who keep up add current information to the old talk, and there seems to be a common thread.

Though most of those in the group do not participate in farming anymore, the OFs claim they miss it. The smell of the barn when sliding back the manger door and stepping inside on an early brisk fall morning — there’s nothing like it.

Hearing the cows stir, the cats getting down from their favorite cow and scurrying to the old milk can lid, waiting for their first batch of warm milk and all the activity of the early morning. Going to the milk house to get the cans ready, and feeding grain to the cows — all this is missed and the barn smelled so great.

The Chanticleer (John Charles Stevenson) was on the radio, and at that moment everything was at peace. Such was the typical small farm from the early 1900s until the state mandated bulk tanks in the 1950s. Many of the small farms could not afford these tanks, causing the small dairy farms to fold.

Of course now, as the OFs reminisced and talked about dairy farming, they are of an age that their kids (or grandkids) would be doing it because the OFs have too many aches and pains to continue. One OF added that, the way things are now, the kids have too much else going on to be interested, or even consider a 365-day-a-year job.


Best Gas Up

To go along with the farming conversation, the Gas Up came up, which might have prompted the above conversation in the first place. The Gas Up (located on Route 443 just north of Gallupville) is a collection of hit-and-miss engines that are still running (just like the OMOTM) and old trucks, tractors, cars, farm equipment, homemade ice cream, and lots more.

This new topic was history, and how historical events that happened and were recorded are now trying to be changed. Some of the OFs were uttering, “Say what?”

The OFs think that history, good or bad, happened. Those facts cannot be denied. To try and sweep the bad under the rug does not make sense to the OFs. That conversation was getting a little too deep, and didn’t last long before it returned to the Gas Up.

The OFs at the table of the scribe thought this year’s show was one of the best they have seen, and along with that, the crowd was one of the largest the OFs have noticed at the event.

A couple of the OFs had pieces of equipment at the Gas Up, which always makes something like the Gas Up more interesting when a little piece of personal attention is there. This is similar to something like personally knowing a race car driver, or owner, or some particular athlete or musician.

The personal touch really adds to the fan base. Speaking about a personal touch, my friend’s girlfriend left him for a tractor salesman. She sent him a John Deere letter.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh in modern conveniences and not by horseback, were: Rich LaGrange, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, Duncan Bellinger, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Ken Parkes, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Russ Pokorny, Wayne Gaul, Otis Lawyer, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Warren Willsey, and me.