Chore time meant no bored time

By Helen Row Toews

March 9, 2017 10:55 AM

SQUEEZIN' Were we better off when kids had chores to do? Yes indeed we were, says Helen, the Source's countrified columnist.

During the first half of the 20th Century, the work shared by members of Canadian farm families—kids included—was very different than it is today.
To survive, a farm had to be almost self-sufficient, which meant being more diverse.
This in turn created many daily chores; far more than could be handled by one or even two people.
Several types of crops were often cultivated and a variety of livestock such as horses, hogs, cattle and chickens were raised.
As well as being kept in order to work the land and feed the family, these commodities could be sold, adding to the family’s income.
Large gardens were grown and preserved in order to survive a long hard winter.
All in all, there was plenty of work to be done and children played an active and necessary part in the overall success of this enterprise.
Chores were a big part of everyone’s day back then.
At a young age kids learned the value of hard work, and what it meant to be responsible.
There were animals to feed, eggs to collect, cows to milk and the list goes on.
Children from this era didn’t know the meaning of the word bored and no one ever complained of nothing to do.
Something could be found pretty fast to keep them busy if they were foolish enough to mention it!
Farming traditions were passed on from one generation to the next as children learned firsthand how things were done.
It’s fair to say they felt a deep connection to the land which lasted a lifetime, and appreciated the effort involved in producing their own food.
While I don’t pretend to have been a vital part of our farming operation, as a child I was given several daily tasks and feel I was the better for it.
One was to milk the cow.
I can still see our old Jersey cow standing patiently at the barn door; poking her docile head through the gap only moments after I started sliding it open.
Eagerly, she’d push past me and take her place in the wide stall where a measure of oats had been readied.
The sound of contented, rhythmic chewing soon followed as I secured her tail to a metal ring on the wall with a bit of binder twine.
I enjoyed those times—usually. Every so often she would get her tail free and whip it smartly across my head.
As a delightful result of this chore, we all enjoyed fresh milk and thick, sweet cream on cereal and desserts.
On a personal note, I strengthened muscles in my hands and gained a grasp that could bring my brother to his knees. (Those were the good ole days).
Men would arrive at our house to buy bulls and take a hesitant step back as dad would urge them to shake my hand. “Check out the grip on this girl, would ya!” he’d say, beaming with pride as I silently wrung their palms.
Since the early 1900s time has moved on: machinery has improved and farms have become more specialized.
No longer diverse, there are simply less chores to be done these days, leaving kids with few if any responsibilities on the farm.
The dynamics have shifted making it unnecessary for each member of a farming family to take on part of the workload.
Kids now spend more time at school or other events and less time actively involved at home.
Of course, there are still plenty of families who recognize the importance of having kids be accountable for a few chores, but certainly times have changed.
As is with everything in life, the old passes away and is replaced with the new.
Applying a little faith to what is yet to come, we can see the family farm still being passed to future generations for years to come … where there will always be chores.

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