Friday, June 29, 2012

Animals on the Hill

Nanny Flynn holding my mother Mary, summer 1930 with Daisy the Ayrshire Cow
Aunt Agnes tells me about the animals they raised and cared for while growing up on Flynn's Hill. They had chickens for eggs and poultry, and a horse to help with the plowing and hauling. They had a couple of pigs along with a cow for milk. She explains, they were very fond of the cows, remembering "Daisy" especially.  They would not let their parents sell her or send her to be butchered.  Much of their time was spent feeding and tending to the animals. 

She told me, "Dad would go down to the Bay", Bay Roberts that is, which was about 30 km (19 miles) from Harbour Main to buy a horse, paying $20.00. Twenty Dollars was alot of money in those days especially during the Great Depression. A white horse named "Jack" was one of their favorites.  They had only one horse at a time on their small farm.  The horse stayed up in the "pen" on the hill during the summer and in the stable during the winter.  George, her brother would take the horse down to the pond across from their house for water.

Aunt Agnes recalls an occassion when my mom got up on the horse and George hit the horse on the "rump".  The horse took off going a "mile a minute" with my mom hanging on. He did not stop until he got to Hawco's Forge,  the place where he had been shoed at one time. Aunt Agnes and her siblings chased after the "Runaway Horse" and caught up with him, consoling their sister and bringing her home. Aunt Agnes states my mother was very upset at the time, very upset to say the least. But knowing my mother, I know she would laugh at this story today.

 I would of loved to hear Uncle George's version of "The Runaway Horse".

Uncle Ray (abt 13 years) with their young cow.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Root Cellar

Ellen Mary Tobin Flynn - My Grandmother

In this photo, the small open door behind my grandmother was the mysterious luring Root Cellar.

 You could access the root cellar through this door from the outside or from a door in the back hallway of the house. This darken place evoked great curiosity for me as a young girl, wondering just what could be in there. I remember clearly when Grand Dad or Nanny would open the door a wave of cool air would come surging out encircling my little body.  I was never allowed to go into this space, I could only stand at the threshold and peer in.  I can remember a long electrical wire leading to a single hanging light bulb, and when the power string was pulled it gave this room minimal lighting but showed the detail of numerous spider webs. As Grand Dad proceeded in, I waited impatiently at the doorway.

A Root Cellar on the back of the house is something not seen these days. But for the Flynn Family in the 1930's -1960's it was a necessity in preserving their food especially with no refrigeration.  Aunt Agnes tells of how  they stored vegetables from the garden,  beef and pork salt meat, and coal for the heat stove, all for the long winter months. There was also an area where their father kept some tools like the grinding stone for the ax. As children they did not like going into the Root Cellar, being scared of the mice that may of lived in this dark place. When I questioned her as to how she knew for sure there were mice in there. She stated, that when the door would be opened they would see the mice scurry away and they could hear the mice at night scratching in the walls.

So, there you have it, the mystery of the Root Cellar, vegetables, salt meat, and coal along with tools, mice and spiders.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gardening on Flynn's Hill

My 2011 Garden in Wisconsin - featuring "Rapunzel the Scarecrow Lady"
Made by Avery my Grand Daughter and my Great Niece Skylar
with a little help from Brian my son.

My grandparents grew vegetables on Flynn's Hill to sustain there family of seven.  Their harvest of potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, cabbage and beets were stored for the winter in the Root Cellar.  The Root Cellar was built on to the back of the house right into the base of the hill, so that the back wall was the earth itself.

The gardens were in several locations around their property, things like lettuce, beets and carrots were planted in an area toward the front of the house. Potatoes, turnips, parsnips and cabbage were planted "inside the meadow" up past Bill and Nell's place, according to Aunt Agnes. Newfoundland has a very rocky terrain making it impossible to have large planting fields.

Most things were started from seed.  But turnips, she remembers came from small starter plants which were bought.  I imagine tomatoes were bought as small plants as well, to get a jump start on the very short growing season of Newfoundland. The tomatoes needed to be picked while they were still green and brought inside before the frost to ripen.

Potato planting began from leftover potatoes from the previous year.  Taken from the Root Cellar, they were cut into pieces so that an eye of the potato was exposed on each piece. They then sat for 3 weeks to "cure" before planting. Aunt Agnes states she remembers her sister Mary, my mother, helped their father plow the field in preparation for planting. Her job was to lead the horse while their father followed behind with the plow to make a "drill" or trench.  The potato pieces were placed in the "drill" with the eye facing upward.The children were responsible for digging up the potatoes in the fall. Occasionally they would miss school in order to get this done before the winter set in.

Lastly, Aunt Agnes tells me about the "Cherry Garden" which was located behind their house.  Her mother had a strawberry and rhubarb patch along with a Cherry and Plum Tree ( Damson Plums). Sweet Rewards for all their hardwork!

Avery Elizabeth Clark
sitting in her Nana's Strawberry Patch

Friday, June 8, 2012

My Roots

My Golden Retriever, Lucy

Lately, my focus has been immersed in getting my vegetable garden started, and not on posting entries to my family history blog, especially with the extremely wonderful Wisconsin weather we are having now.

Growing my garden is a ritual for me that has developed over the years. I find a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction in producing my own vegetables, it is so simple but yet very rewarding.  I learn something every year in the garden, whether it be about spacing and watering, or about patience and timing, one just needs to pay attention and be aware.

For me, it is also a place to get lost in thought or even clear my head, it is a connection with the earth.  In the garden, there is no drama or politics just straight forward simple life.

 I remember as a young girl always wanting to grow things, but living in many different apartments throughout my childhood made it impossible. Around age 12, I was finally given a flower box that sat on the edge of the cement patio. In this box, I would plant orange marigolds, this made me very happy!  Today, I continue to plant them around the edge of the garden to keep the rabbits out!

Gardening is not something I was taught but something that came from within, it was a strong interest I had. Aunt Agnes tells me, it is part of my "Newfoundland Heritage".  Gardening was their way of life growing up, necessary for surviving.  They were taught as young children to tend to the garden, and much of their time was spent on this task.  They grew potatoes, cabbage, and turnip, also lettuce, carrots, and beets.  I imagine this was quite a challenge considering the short growing season of Newfoundland and the rocky composition of the soil. 

My next blog, " Gardening on Flynn's Hill" notes from Aunt Agnes

Lucy loves to make rounds with me early in the morning, checking the progress of the garden.