by Delbert Trew
were priority during childhood
the many forgotten words, terms and traditions of the past, chores,
chore time and the orders of "better go do your chores before dark,"
stand out in my mind. Few below 50 years of age are familiar with
these age-old terms.
From the time we arose in the mornings, which was always long before
daylight, until we quit work that evening, our daily chores had priority.
No day work was started until the morning chores were finished. Whether
you had an easy day or were so tired you could drop, the evening chores
had to be done before going to the house.
The most important chore was tending to the milk cows. They don't
wait and must have relief or they will suffer. All other livestock
and poultry could wait an hour or so, but not the milk cows. During
hot days or during a blowing blizzard, the cows were milked and fed.
On our ranches, another chore almost as important as milking cows,
or so my dad thought anyway, the horses had to be "whistled-up" and
fed whether we were going to ride that day or not. Checking the remuda
every morning for injury or whatever came high with my father.
My mother's chickens - or as us men called them "shickins" - were
relegated to second priority in the chore schedule. They had to be
shut up at night or the varmints would get them. At morning time,
they were left closed up until about 9 to be really safe and were
generally left in mother's charge. I was never afraid of the dark
because most nights I had to go outside and close the chicken house
Eggs were gathered once a day unless it was really cold. Then we gathered
them twice a day to keep them from freezing. Back at the house, the
eggs were sorted, cleaned and the better eggs placed into an egg crate
to take to the Ideal Grocery store in Perryton
the next Saturday.
Depending on the years and the pace of modern progress, other chores
included filling and cleaning kerosene lamps, carrying in coal or
firewood or filling the glass jug fueling the big kerosene heater
in the living room. The advent of REA electric current ended many
Certain times of the year decided some of our chores. At times we
turned eggs in the incubator, checked calving heifers around the clock
and broke ice in the livestock tanks. If pipes were frozen, we used
a blow-torch to thaw. If the wind didn't blow, we had to haul water
to livestock. If it was a fruit year, we spent a lot of time picking,
peeling and canning the bounty. The best I remember, we never had
a "slack time" any day.
The delegation of which chores were your responsibility depended on
your age and maturity. Added chores meant you were "growing up" and
could handle the new requirements. The problem with chores was they
were boring and sometimes smelled to high heaven. If I heard it once,
I heard it a thousand times: "You boys quit piddling around and go
do your chores."
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
February 27, 2006 column