White Oak Tree Identification During the Winter

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, January 27, 1914:  Read and practiced and vice versa this afternoon, and so the hours sped on.

White.oak

Source of Pictures: Trees in Winter

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Reading and practicing the piano—sounds like a nice way to pass a cold winter day. As Grandma transitioned between activities, did she ever glance out the window and see the haunting beauty of trees swaying in the winter wind?

I found an interesting old book called Trees in Winter about how to identify trees during the winter months. (I can’t identity most trees even during the summer—and was amazed that some people can identify them even without their leaves).

Here’s some of the information that the book had about identifying White Oaks during the winter:

White Oak

Habit—A large tree with average height of 50-75 ft. and a trunk diameter of 1-6 ft. somewhat various in habit, tending in the open to show a broad outline, sometimes 2-3 times as broad as high, with short trunk and lower limbs horizontal or declined, characteristically gnarled and twisted.

Bark—Light gray or nearly white, whence its name; broken by shallow fissures into long, irregular, thick scales which readily flake off. On some trees ridges broken into short oblongs give a rougher appearance to bark. Bark up to 2 inches thick in older trees, inner bark light. The bark is rich in tannin, is of medicinal value and is used in tanning.

white.oak.bark

 Twigs—Of medium thickness, greenish-reddish to gray, smooth sometimes covered with a bloom. Lenticels forming conspicuous, light-colored, minute, rounded, raised dots.  Leaves frequently remaining on tree throughout winter.

Buds-Broadly ovate, blunt, about 3 mm. long, reddish-brown, sometimes slightly hairy.

Fruit-Maturing in autumn singly or in pairs. Nut-ovoid to oblong rounded at apex, shiny, light chestnut brown, 1.5-2.5 cm. long, enclosed 1/3-1/4 of its length by deep saucer-shaped cup. Meat sweet, edible, sometimes roasted and used as a substitute for coffee, or when boiled said to be a good substitute for chestnuts.

White.oak.twig-1

Distribution-On moist or dry ground and in various soils sometimes forming nearly pure forests. Quebec and Ontario, south to the Gulf of Mexico; west to Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas.

Wood-Strong, very heavy, hard, tough close-grained, durable, light brown, with thin lighter colored sapwood; the most valuable of the Oaks for timber, used in shipbuilding, for construction and in cooperage, the manufacture of carriages, agricultural implements, baskets, the interior finish of houses, cabinet making, for railroad ties and fences, and as fuel.

Trees in Winter (1916) by Albert Francis Blakeslee and Chester Deacon Jarvis

Sold Calf

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, November 20, 1913: My Mollie’s calf over which I have been rejoicing for the past week or two on account of his bigness was sold this afternoon. He weighed 164 pounds. I had figured out a week or so ago that he would just have to weigh at least 145 pounds. Haven’t I something to be thankful for?

Source: Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine (February 1, 1913)

Source: Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (February 1, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Mollie was Grandma’s cow. I think that her parents gave each child a cow. When the cow had a male calf, the child got the money from the sale; when it was a female, their personal herd grew.  (See previous post on teaching farm kids the value of money.)

This was the third year in a row that Mollie had a male calf. On December 27, 1912, Grandma wrote:

Sold Mollie’s calf today. It wasn’t a very big one and I rather feared my fortune would be pretty small, but after all it weighed one hundred and forty-four lbs. Received a neat sum of $11.56. I am real proud over what my purse that Ruth gave me contains. Over fourteen dollars.

And, on September 25, 1911 she wrote:

 . . .Sold Mollie’s calf today. Weighed 145 lbs. Came to $10.87. Quite a vast sum to get all at once. Guess I’ll save it and get a watch or something as useful.

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I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Mollie has a female calf in 1914. Grandma sounds pleased with the money—but it it’s about time for a girl!

Corn Stored in Corn Cribs

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, October 7, 1913:

10/6 – 10/8: I’ve husked about ten loads of corn by this time. My hands are sore and roughened, but I didn’t care very much. I’m thinking of what I’m earning.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

(This is the second of three days that Grandma combined into one diary entry.)

After the corn was harvested and husked, the corn ears would have been stored in a corn crib. Corn cribs had wooden slats that let the air circulate to dry the corn.

Did Grandma also have to shovel the husked corn from the wagon into the crib? Corn was shoveled in through small doors near the top of the crib.  Whew, I get tired just thinking about shoveling corn into the crib.

Corn Crib Doors (Source: Wikipedia)

Corn Crib Doors (Source: Wikipedia)

Double corn crib on the farm where Grandma lived on when she wrote the diary.

The building on the right is a double corn crib on the farm where Grandma lived when she wrote the diary. I wonder if the corn Grandma husked was stored in this exact building.  (My gut feeling is that this building was built less than a hundred years ago. I think that high double cribs became popular after farmers began using elevators to move the corn into the crib.)

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Fairs A Hundred Years Ago

 18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, October 1, 1913:

October comes with the colder days.

Dresses the trees in gayest attire.

Garners the harvest in fields far and near

Into great heaps that all may admire.

This is Fair Week but not so the weather. Not going this year, so I won’t take it as hard as some.

Milton.Fairground_ferris_wheel_Milton Fairgrounds (This picture may have been taken a few years after Grandma wrote this diary entry). Photo source: Milton History. org.  Used. with permission.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma –

Why aren’t you going to the Milton Fair? You had so much fun last year and even saw an airplane:

Saw a flying machine whirling aloft in the air for at least 10 minutes. I think twas quite a sight to see.

October 3, 1912

There are so many reasons people attend fairs. Here’s what the October, 1913 issue of Farm Journal said about the purpose of fairs:

The word fair, as now used in America, has lost much of its Old world meaning. In this country the fair, whether we call it a world’s fair or a state fair, a county fair or district fair, is an industrial exhibition. And this is as it should be.

It places the fair on a strictly business basis; it makes of it a practical, helpful thing. Conducted on an industrial, practical line, the fair is designed to help both the farmer and the city resident. It is the common meeting ground of all classes. At the fair the man who produces and the man who buys, the grower and the manufacturer, get together. They learn what each is capable of doing, and ascertain each other’s need.

It is remarkable how much benefit we can get out of the fair when we attend filled with a desire to learn—to gain something worthwhile.

The farmer who is seen “taking notes” at a fair—jotting down the name of this big apple, the weight of that monster pumpkin; who writes down all the information he can get about caring for hogs, poultry raising, feeding; who investigates the new kinds of machinery, and secures all available figures about up-to-date methods—that farmer will make his trip to the fair a valuable thing. He can do this and still have plenty of time to accompany his family to the side show, to take a whirl on the merry-go-round, or throw a ball at the doll babies.

Monthly Poem

For information about the monthly poems sees this previous post:

Monthly Poem in Diary

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Making the Farm Pay

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, September 29, 1913:  

9/29 – 30: These days have come and gone. They ground me working on my job.

farm.book

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma must have been too tired to write anything a hundred years ago today (and tomorrow).  She was spending long days out in the field harvesting corn—but past entries have indicated that she was pleased to be making some money:

I’m on duty now out in the corn field. The beginning took place this afternoon. Somehow or other I imaged I would accomplish more than what I did. This is an opportunity to earn some money of which I always seem in need.

September 25, 1913

I assume that Grandma was working for her father—and that he was paying her.  She was happy about the money; but was her father happy or worried about the profitability of the farm?

Did he worry about rainy weather that might prevent completion of the harvest before the snow flew? . . . or low market prices that would prevent him from recouping the cost of growing the crop?

Maybe he read a 1913 book called Making the Farm Pay by C.C. Bowsfield.  Here’s an abridged version of what the first page said:

The average land owner has a great deal of practical knowledge, and yet is deficient in some of the most salient requirements. He may know how to produce a good crop and not know how to sell it to the best advantage.

Worse than this, he may follow a method which turns agricultural work into drudgery, and his sons and daughters forsake the farm home as soon as they are old enough to assert a little independence.  The farmers are deprived on the earnest, intelligent help which naturally belongs to them, rural society loses one of its best elements, the cities are overcrowded and all parties at interest are losers.

You may also enjoy reading (or rereading) a previous post that I did on the Country Life Commission. A hundred years ago the federal government sought to make farming more profitable, and to make farm life more appealing for young people, by appointing the Country Life Commission.

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Corn Husking Pegs

 18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, September 26, 1913:  Still pegging away.

husking.peg.crop

Corn Husking Peg

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

The previous day Grandma wrote that she was “on duty out in the corn field.”  This diary entry makes it clearer how she was helping with the corn harvest.

Grandma was using a corn husking peg, and “pegging away” at husking corn.

After the corn ears were broken off the stalks, they were husked by hand using a husking peg.

Lehman’s still sells Finger-loop Corn Husking Pegs.  According to their website:

To use, slip over first three fingers, push peg under husk, grab with thumb and pull.

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Russian Wheat Production a Hundred Years Ago

 18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, September 19, 1913:  

September 16 – 17 – 18 – 19:  Nothing much of importance happened during these days. I have to help Pa some and get put at rolling for one thing. Of course I had my mishaps even to going off of the roller. That work is all done by this time.

Photo Caption: An American Reaper in a Russian Wheat Field (Source: The Book of Wheat by Peter Tracy Donglinger

Photo Caption: An American Reaper in a Russian Wheat Field.Source: The Book of Wheat (1908)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

This was the fourth of four days where Grandma wrote a single diary entry. Three days ago I described how Grandma rolled the fields in preparation for planting fall wheat. And, two days ago and yesterday, I shared  pictures of large and small wheat farms from a hundred-year-old book.

The 1908 book, The Book of Wheat  by Peter Tracy Dondlinger, had lots of interesting information. One part I really enjoyed was the description of wheat production in several other countries.

I’m going to share what the book said about Russia. Within the larger historical context it is fascinating to read something about Russia that was written in the years prior to the Russian Revolution and the formation of the Soviet Union.

Russian Wheat Production

Viewed solely from the point of view of its natural resources and economic aspects, Russia is the United States of Europe. It has immense undeveloped areas that would form ideal wheat lands, lands very similar to those which constitute the wheat belt of the United States.

The similarity between Russia and the United States in the natural resources of the wheat growing regions is quite equaled by the dissimilarity of political practice, social theory and economic condition.  The Russian peasantry had had neither means nor opportunity to attain a higher plane of life.

The poor system of land ownership and the antiquated methods of agriculture made Russian wheat a dear wheat in spite of cheap labor and a low standard of living. The future possibilities of Russian wheat production depend upon the social, economic and educational progress of Russia.

There are symptoms of improvement in this direction. The extension of peasant land ownership is improving economic conditions. It seems that political and social conditions are at last changing and popular education is growing. In agriculture, better machinery is being introduced, and the crops are being rotated.

The Book of Wheat (1908)

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