Chapter 20 – Farm and Friends on Bug Ridge

Raising Goats: Elmo had a flock of goats. I decided I wanted to keep goats, so he brought me two nannies just before Thanksgiving in 1941. This proved to be a pleasant and profitable job. We soon had all the milk and cream we needed from the goats and cream from the cows to sell.

The first kids came in February when it was very cold. One evening I found a litter. One of them was so cold that it couldn’t get up; so I took it to the house, warmed it up, and finally got it to take a little milk. This got it on its feet, and I took it to its mother. In the morning it was again frozen. After warming it up and giving it some milk, I took it to its mother. It was all right then. There were five kids. I gave the two billies away, which left me five nannies.

We kept the goats staked out when we first got them. In the spring of 1942 I hired a woven wire fence put around a five-acre field for my goats, where we kept them and their progeny for over three years. I also kept the cows in this field part of the time. I let the doe kids run with their mothers, but the billies I gave to the neighbor children for the first two years. Then I began to charge a small price for them. I sold a few doe kids while they were small and some grown goats.

When I had had the goats about four years, I decided to sell them and get a couple pure-bred does of a fine milking strain. I found I had nine does to sell. I paid $20 for the two does and $15 for a buck. While we raised the goats, we ate three bucks (they were fine), sold a pair for $2, one doe and her two young does for $10, and two old goats for $15. I got $55 for the last nine does. Altogether I got $82 for the initial $35 investment. The goats cleaned up a five-acre field of filth, and we had all the milk and butter we needed so we could give the milk from the cows to the hogs and sell the cream. This gave us a cash income from the farm for Mamma, and we could raise two or three fine hogs a year.

I was very much interested in raising goats, but Elmo was very anxious for us to come to Wisconsin for a while. We decided to go there for the winter, then come back to the farm, buy our goats, and farm for ten more years. But as so often happens when you postpone anything, we never got our goats.

Another thing I liked very much about the goats, especially the kids, was to see them play. They would chase each other all over the field. One would jump on a tall stump. Then another one would jump up and butt it off. Then two more would butt that one off, and so it would go. They would climb onto a stump five or six feet high and then jump as far as they could. They sure are lively little animals.

A billy sometimes learns to butt if he is teased and can be very unpleasant if he makes a square hit when you are thinking of some other things. You must learn to take the bitter with the sweet (this is up-to-date philosophy and should be taken with a little water, if handy, but taken any way).

I think every one can see that I only gave up the goats to get better ones, and old age got me. I just got the farm 10 years (or 20) too late. Why should I worry about that? I have had a very good life and enjoyed the 17 years I was on the farm- every bit of it. If we could have remained able to have worked on the farm for ten more years, it would have been so nice; we would have enjoyed it very much.

Cows We Owned: About 1942 I had three cows. They did not give the milk they should, and one of them was an awful kicker-in fact, she was a killer. I sold her and bought a two-year-old of Ed Davis for $40-which proved to be a fine cow and a good bargain. I had to sell the others as they got garget.

In the spring of 1944 I went to a sale to buy a good cow. The dairy I had hoped to buy from had been sold. We met a man from Lewis County who said he had two good cows for sale. We went there as we came back, and I bought a three-year-old jersey cow with a heifer calf sired by a pure-bred Guernsey for $100. This was about as good a buy as I ever made.

I kept the calf till it was a cow and sold it for $150. The cow was a very fine milker and more than paid her way. After we left the farm we sold her to Olta for $125. I also sold another of her calves for $15. I sold the Ed Davis cow for $100 and three of her calves (one when it was two years old) for $80. So you see I did very well with her as she was a fine milker and her milk was very rich.

Olta and Ira took my stock to market, eggs and produce to town, and brought our feed and groceries (of course, we paid them). This was a great help to us and helped them, too.

Friends on Bug Ridge

Charley Watts and his father moved back to the farm in 1942. Two of his boys, Zeno and Freddie, came to me for three years till Zeno went to high school. Freddie went to me four years. I was very glad to see Mr. Watts, but I could see that he was getting feeble. He was out to see us two or three times. Charley brought him and the family out in his car, and we went out to see them several times. In the late winter of 1943 the old man took a severe cold, from which he didn’t seem to rally very well. Then one night he had a stroke, from which he never rallied.

So passed a very hard working man and a good friend of mine. So passed the third good old friend of mine on Bug Ridge-Uncle Daniel Huffman, Mr. Garrison, and Mr. Watts. Mr. Watts was the oldest, being 90 years old. The others were past 80. Uncle Daniel was my nearest neighbor and one of the best friends on the Ridge.

In our younger days we make friends; as we grow older they pass away one by one. In our old age, there are few left. And if, as I have done, you move when you are old, you have no friends at all. I am glad that I can be with some of my children and see the others every once in a while. I should not complain. I have had many friends and some close ones in several places. My rule has been: “Be true to a friend always.”

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