The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Growing Up On Tuggles Creek - Chores

By YKW © 1984

Issue: May, 1984

My dad used to ride around his mail route thinking of things he wanted done on the farm. If it didn't require hired hands, he just hinted to mother what he wanted done. One time, for instance, the frost bit the ends of the blades of corn on about a two acre cornfield. Dad thought the blades should be cut off with scissors, so Mother dutifully attempted the task. The blades didn't grow out one bit but I guess the cornfield looked a little neater to Dad.

Another time, Mother took all us kids to the John Blackard place, at Dad's request, to strip clover seed from the dried up blooms. Cleaned clover seed was selling then for about twenty dollars a bushel. However, the seed is very tiny and I doubt if the bushel of chaff we laboriously gathered would yield more than a pint of clean clover seed.

Mother believed in cleanliness as much as anyone, but in her mind, I think she believed that "Friendliness is next to Godliness" and cleanliness had to come in third. She was always friendly with everyone, no matter what his or her station in life. She gave away gallons and gallons of milk and pounds of meat to the less fortunate families living near us.

After church on Sundays, Mother always tried to speak to everyone and invite all of them home with her for dinner. Usually most of them accepted, remembering, no doubt, the savory fried chicken and hot biscuits surrounded by whatever garden vegetables were available at the time.

I can remember so well on cold winter mornings hearing Dad turning the old coffee mill (I still have it!) and grinding Arbuckle Coffee. We would snuggle down under the covers until we thought the buckwheat cakes were getting brown. Those were served with "Red-Eye" ham gravy or lots of fresh butter. Their slightly sour taste was achieved by letting the batter sit in a stone crock by the hearth all night.

And I can still hear Mother's voice as she called out, "children, it's time to get up. It's going on seven." (Even though it was maybe two minutes after six.)