Gard, Robert Edward / My land, my home, my Wisconsin : the epic story of the Wisconsin farm and farm family from settlement days to the present
Ahlgreen, Henry L.
Foreword PDF (834.9 KB)
FOREWORD Those of us who grew up on farms in Wisconsin during the early years of this century will relive an exciting period in the development of our beloved state as we turn the pages of this fascinating book. I was one of those-in a family whose mother and father were Swedish immigrants-who grew up on farms in northwestern Wisconsin, farms that had to be carved out of rocks and cleared of trees, farms that eventually became the dairy farms that created what is now America's Dairyland. My two brothers, my sister, and I found out early that we were truly needed to perform all kinds of chores and that we were expected to be an impor- tant part of the labor force in the difficult, strenuous, and time-consuming task of transforming virgin for- est land-with a generous coating of rocks--into pro- ductive farmland. At that time we looked upon the forests as enemies that had to be destroyed if we ourselves were to survive and provide a satisfactory future for ourselves on the land. In those days, the answer to any problem we might have was not available in printed circulars, bulletins, or textbooks, and there was no county ex- tension agent we could consult on farm and home problems. Nor were there educational radio or tele- vision stations we could turn to for information. In fact, as I recall it now, the answer, as practiced by our parents, was to work harder and work longer, bit always to work, work, work. Even after all these years, I can still hear my father, who was a reason- ably successful farmer in his time, extol the virtue of " a strong back and a weak mind." As we grew up, we learned the virtues and re- wards of hard work; of being self-reliant; of taking care of ourselves as a family; of providing our own entertainment; of getting along with whatever we had; of being frugal; of persevering under conditions of severe hardship and stress; of working and living together as a family; of the Christian ethic and the importance of the church in our lives; of helping each other, not only ourselves but also friends and neighbors in time of need and crisis; of the impor- tance of education; of honesty, dependability, trust- worthiness, and integrity; and of being a citizen of the greatest country in the world, the United States of America. In contrast to the situation today, we were large- ly self-sufficient and quite independent in our daily life and living. We did not need many outside serv- ices to carry on our farm and home operations. We raised most of our own fruits and vegetables. We had flour made from our own wheat at our local mill. My mother saw to it that we had an adequate supply of canned vegetables and fruits each fall to carry us through the winter. We made our own butter from the milk of our dairy herd and, of course, had our own supply of milk. We butchered our own meat. We provided our own horsepower with matched teams of horses, and we fueled the kitchen stove and fur- nace with wood from our woodlot. Coffee, sugar, salt, an occasional new shirt, a pair of overalls, and shoes were about the only things on our shopping list when we made our weekly trip to town in our horse-drawn buggy. We often traded eggs from our flock of chick- ens for these commodities when money was scarce. If we had a good year, there might be a store-bought orange in each stocking at Christmas. The hoe, the ax, the crosscut saw, and the plow were our most important tools, and they received the heaviest use on our farms as they were being devel- oped. Each of us boys and my father were experts in using them.
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