The Bugg Farm

by Aunt Ruth

 
    Now some farms have several kinds of fowls, like ducks, geese, chickens...and someti
mes exotic birds.  But my mother was very practical and grew only the fowl that produced food for the table.... She simply did not have the extra money or time it took.... Flying over the garden fence was strictly one of Mama’s no-no’s for the chickens, and as bad as she hated doing such an awful thing as “cropping a wind,” it had to be done.  Mama’s garden was to produce food for the children.... Mama didn’t hesitate, for it had to be done.... We caught the hen, and with “I don’t want to do this” on her lips, Mama would spread the wing feathers and carefully cut off those beautiful feathers.... The old hen, with her pride wounded, walked away, and so did Mama.  I noticed that Mama was always more generous with the grain after that happened....

    After the chicks grew to frying size, Mama would decide to have fried chicken for Sunday dinner.  She would catch a rooster.  You could tell which ones were the roosters because their combs were bigger, and their tail feathers were longer.  Then she would put him in the coop under the peach tree.... The chosen chicken was fed all he could eat of grain, table scraps, and clabber milk.... Mama said it took at least three days for the meat of the chicken to be clean if the chicken ate only wholesome food.  Now a chicken on the open range wasn’t too particular what it ate, and Mama couldn’t stand the thought of that.

    No one liked to kill a chicken, but everyone liked to eat chicken.  So again the hard part was left up to Mama...that natural instinct that a mother has to feed her offspring would return, and Mama would kill the chicken.  Usually she would lay its head down on a block of wood and chop its head off with an ax.  Sometimes she just took the chicken by the head and rung its neck.... The chicken would flop around, and the blood would flow.... 

    Now each cow was named and she knew her name...but the leader was old Parkie.  She was smart and aggressive and bossy.  On the wall of the feed shed was a knot hole.  I think it was Parkie who learned to stick her tongue through the hole and we would put food on it.  She would take it out, eat the food, and stick her tongue in for another helping.  One time we loaded it with just salt.  How mean can one get—poor Parkie!  Lois and I would stay in the feed shed and play.  That was of course before we were old enough to milk a cow, but we did learn young.  You must be gentle with the cow.  She can hold up the milk if she wants to.... Taking a sucking young bull calf away from the teat needs knowing how and not minding getting calf slobber on you.  Grab the calf by the throat with the left hand and slightly choke it, cutting off partial air supply.  You will know how much.  With the right hand catch hold of its tail and twist it.  Push your body against the calf so it will start moving, and you have usually got it going toward the calf pen.... The cow was usually glad to get relief, for a full udder could become worrisome to the cow.  When most of the milk was in the bucket and the teat was flabby the stripping began.  That means forcing out any remaining milk with the thumb and forefinger....

    Cows were milked early in the morning and [again] late afternoon.  The warm milk was strained into two gallon earthenware jars called crocks.  There was no refrigeration at that time.  To promote cooling, the end of the porch was built into a room with windows on opposite sides so a breeze could come through.  A large table was in the room.  Wet clothes were sometimes put around the jars.  That helped to hasten the milk to lose its animal heat... cream to separate and rise...skimmed off into the churn...salted and a process of kneading with a spoon...molded in a store-bought mold...a beautiful pound of butter.  There was a special paper that was bought to wrap the butter in to send to the store.  The grocery store in Gainesville bought the butter and sold it to their customers.  I have no idea how much “butter money” we received per pound but it was precious and spent on personal needs like fabric which we called material at that time.  I remember when Allie went to Gainesville for material to make our dresses, she would tell Mama how much it cost.  Eight and one-third per yard I remember hearing her say.  I wondered what she meant. ...a dress cost $0.25 for she usually bought three yards for a dress.  The fabric left over was put into the other scraps and saved for making quilts....

    One time Lois went with Mama to water the cabbage plants.  When all the water was gone out of the sprinkler, Lois had some water in some kind of an open container, and she just dashed the water on the tiny plants.  Well, I don’t know what was the result of her method of watering, but I expect there were a few plants washed up.  I wonder what Mama did, but I know that it was a good example of Lois’ impulsive nature as I remember her....

    I am not trying to compare the rural mail delivery back when I was a child to now.  I only know what it meant to my family....

    Correspondence among the young people of the community was written on decorated postal cards.  Any important news of parties or other news was written on these cards.  My sister Allie had a post card album in which she kept all her cards, which I now have.... The Sears and Roebuck came by mail.  The seed catalogue came by mail.  A money order could be bought with cash from the postman to pay for the seed order.... We looked forward to mail delivery then just as we do today.

    When the weather got real cold it was time to kill hogs.  This was one occasion when neighbors helped each other.  After caring for the hogs it was rather hard for the owner to kill the hogs....  A butcher knife had to be stuck into the heart with a big gash to bleed the hog so that the meat would not be bloody.  The big black pots were filled with water and heated very hot.... To cool the meat...and keep it safe from dogs, wolves, or any flesh eating animal, Papa put the meat on the roof of the house and left it overnight.  The next day he would put it in on a cutting table.... My sister Maudie’s [the Gregory] family cooked the sausages and then put them in crock pots and covered them with lard.  Chitterlings were small intestines of a hog sometimes cleaned and stuffed with sausage.... I want to add here that there was very little beef meat.  Once in a while someone in the community would kill a steer, cut it into chunks, and put it in his wagon and cover it.  He would go from house to house selling it.  We would always buy a chunk....     

    The sweet potato was one crop we grew on the farm but it required some work from January through December. ...in the winter time the mules were kept in their stalls so they would be protected from the cold and wet weather.  Lots of hay was stored in the loft of the barn and would be lowered into the hay trough in each stall.  Hay got scattered in the stall for the mule to sleep on.  Now the excrement mixed with the hay, and by the time spring came there was a lot of fertilizer in the stalls.  This fertilizer hay mixture was hauled to the cold bed and spread over it.  There was an awful odor of ammonia.  Then a layer of soil spread over that, the potatoes placed on top and then covered with dirt.  This fertilizer created heat and caused shoots or plants to grow from the eyes of the potatoes.  The shoots would break through the soil and grow.  When they got about 6 inches tall, they were ready to pull off and set in the field....

    It was pulled by a team of mules driven by a man who tied the reins together around his waist.  He guided the plow by the handles.  His task was a difficult task as he had to guide both the plow and the mules.  But the mules were smart and understood the commands of the driver.  “Get up” means to go, “gee” means go to the right, “how” means go to the left.... The mules we had on the farm were not the stubborn contrary animals that some people might think they were.  In fact, they were very smart obedient hard workers and tried hard to please the master.  A mule is the offspring of a jackass and a mare.  A mare is a female horse that has reached the age of five years.

    I have no record of Papa’s farm animals from his farming years in 1880 when he first began the truck farming.  You see, I was the youngest of seven children and born in 1903.  But I do have a remembrance of the farm mules that made farming possible, for at that time, we had no motorized farming machinery.  I don’t know what year it was but people were still going west in covered wagons.  As the wagons traveled the dusty country road in front of our house they would often stop at our house and Papa would let them water their mules or horses that pulled the wagons.  Mama would sell them eggs and buttermilk.  The milk was to make the bread as bakery bread had not been a business.

    Now the story that I was fascinated by was the one about Papa buying the team of mules—Bess and Rose.  A man was traveling alone and he wanted to know if Papa would buy his mules, as he then could take the train west.  At first Papa said no, and the man started on his way.  Papa went into the house and told Mama how he would like to have the team of little black mules.  She said why don’t you catch up with him and buy them.  This he did.  I don’t know how, but I guess he went horseback to catch him.  I also guess he bought the wagon.  So Bess and Rose had a home.  Bess was a fat little mule and Rose was a bit bigger and not fat.  They worked together real well, but I don’t remember either working single.  I don’t know whatever happened to Bess but Rose outlived Bess many years.  Rose was retired from farm duty and was the bell mule for a long time.  She wore a shop-made bell hanging from a leather strap around her neck.  Rose was the leader when the work mules were turned into the pastures for the night, after having been fed grain and hay in their individual stalls.  The tinkly bell located the mules so whoever went to drive them back up would know where the mules were.  I have Rose’s bell.  Allie gave it to me after finding it in the dirt in the barn lot.  A fence was built around the barn so the animals can have outside freedom and still be close if needed for work.

    Another team of mules belonged to my brother John.  They were named Toab and Jack.  There were never two mules matched for a team that were as different in appearance as these two, but that was not the important factor [which was] how well they worked together, and each pulled his part of the load, and obeyed commands.

    Toab was a beautiful dappled grey and looked perfect in size, color and physical appearance.  The army thought so too.  In the Second World War they were buying mules.  John sold Toab to serve his country.  That left Jack without a partner.... I don’t know how long it was until a mate was bought for Jack.  He got along alright with Jack, but he did have one definite characteristic we found out about when we harnessed him and Jack and hitched them to the hack.  We got them all hitched and started to drive out the horse lot gate.  Then Andy let us know he was on the wrong side of the wagon tongue.  He kicked as high as he could with both back feet and wouldn’t go a foot.  We took the harness off and set him free.  I don’t recall but I guess he worked fine on the other side of the wagon tongue.  But that was found out later.  We were disgusted with Andy.  We, being my sisters and I, were going to haul in some tomatoes we had picked but ended up leaving them in the field.  I don’t know whether we ever tried to work with Andy again.

    More about the mule Rose.  I have said that Rose was the bell mule.  In her old days she got real smart.  She would go to the farthest place in the pasture and stand still so the bell wouldn’t ring.  Later after John and Allie had Silver, their German Shepherd dog, John would get in his Ford, and Silver would get in the car, too.  John would drive down the road to the closest place where Rose would have the mules.  Silver would get out of the car and drive the mules all the way to the barn.  John would drive back home on the highway and be at home when the mules came to the barn.  I think John would feed them before he harnessed them for work.  Later he got a tractor and turned the cultivated land into pasture and the mules were not used for work....


“Trees As Landmarks”


    Of course, the big oak tree near the back gate was the focal point of many things.  The farm tools, including some of the bigger ones like the two-team cultivator, the turning plows, and many kinds of replacement blades for the plows, were set under the tree.  The water jugs were also kept under this tree.  Then that became too much.  It destroyed using the tree for shade.  So they were moved further away from the house.  Then the hired man, Mr. Wilson, had a place to rest, and on Saturday afternoons he would get a bucket of water and wash his clothes under this tree.  The limbs didn’t adapt themselves to a rope swing—too near the ground.  A long bench was moved in and one could cool off in the shade of our beautiful post oak tree.

    The mulberry tree was east of the house.  It was a fruit bearing mulberry, but the fruit was a little purple fuzz covered in small bugs [and] was not edible.  I think this tree commanded attention because of its beauty and symmetrical shape....

    Then there was the big pear tree.  South of the house, quite a distance away, it spread its branches out far.  The foliage was big shiny leaves and when the tree was in blossom in the spring, no tree could compare with its beauty.  If you’ve ever seen pear blossoms you will understand me.... In the early fall or late summer we would pull each pear separately, wrap them in newspaper, place them in a basket, and set them away to ripen.  They would get juicy and slightly yellow in color.  Oh, for the taste of a fresh pear!

    Underneath the pear tree was the burial place for my pet gray kitten Bonny.  One day when we got home from town, Bonny was floating in the water at the bottom of the well.  Bonnie missed a step or tried to jump across.  No one knows.  The box did not have a closed top, and I guess she was rescued by getting her in a bucket and pulling it to the top.  She was buried with love under the pear tree.

 

“The Little Box of Dried Flowers”


    [Continuing this piece] I don’t know how long it was after my sister’s [Maudie’s] death [in 1938] until one day Auda told John, “I am sick.  I don’t know what it is, but I know I’m sick.”  It was diagnosed as cancer of the bone.  He became a bed patient and suffered for two years the life of a cancer victim.  He decided to go to California to be with his only child who lived there.  He was brought by ambulance to Fort Worth and placed on a stretcher on the train.  I entered his tiny quarters on the train and greeted him.  Then I placed a kiss on his forehead and hurried out.  Trains do not wait for goodbyes—even if it is the last one.  The train whistled and sped away.  One day a few months later, I stood in front of the B. H. Carroll school.  I heard a lonely train whistle.  Auda’s body was due into Fort Worth that day.  He had died of pneumonia.  Penicillin had not been discovered, but even the miracle drug could not cure pneumonia in a body so ravaged by cancer as was Auda’s.  That train whistle was mournful, but it also signaled peace, for Auda would suffer no more.  He was coming home to be buried.  He had never lived with a splash, but he was a gentle man like his father before him.  He lived at peace with his fellow men, and was a good man, husband, and father.

    We buried Auda in the family plot.  I added another flower to my little box.  Now there were four.  In the meantime, back at the old home place, Allie and John lived peacefully.  Going home to me was somehow the best therapy I could ever expect.  I went quite often and when I did, I threw away my cares and woes and came away refreshed in body and mind.  I was their baby sister coming for a visit.  The parlor, the north room, had been converted into a bedroom, and that was my retreat.  I usually went to bed early, and Allie would fool around doing this and that.  She always felt better at night than she did any other part of the day.  Then she would come by my room on her way to bed, and we would sometimes get into riotous laughter over past or present experiences.


“The Religious Doctrines: Their Differences and Tolerances”

 

    When I was a small child living in the rural community of Whaley Chapel, Cooke County, Texas, I was slightly aware of the differences in the doctrines of the two leading religious denominations.  I was taught by the Methodists of Whaley Chapel and the Baptists of Tabernacle Church.  The two churches were only a few miles apart, under 5 miles and an easy drive of 15 minutes by horse-drawn buggy.  Each church had preaching only one Sunday a month, but had Sunday School every Sunday.

    Both denominations said the individual must make the avowal of belief in the Christian faith which was called in pastoral language profession of faith.  But they disagreed on the method of water baptism.  Baptism by water followed the accepting of faith.  The Methodist accepted sprinkling water which was simply sprinkling a small amount of water on the head.  Baptists vowed immersion was the only baptism.  In the small Baptist church there was no baptistry so the converts were baptized in a natural stream of water, a creek.

    I have received both methods as I was reared a Methodist and later after marriage joined the Baptist church for family unity.  I could never tell any difference but always held that faith was the requirement of salvation.

    Now each summer after the crops were laid by, that is they were not cultivated any more but left to grow and mature, the church would have a “protracted” meeting.  The dictionary explains protracted as a period of duration.  The meeting usually lasted two weeks and was led by the church’s pastor and a visiting preacher.  There was no air conditioning so the meetings were held in an open air temporary sanctuary called an arbor.  The arbor was built on the public school ground which joined the church ground.  The frame was bare during the winter but temporarily covered with brushy limbs, usually fresh willow limbs.  A temporary platform was built.  It had a speaker’s podium and a section for the choir.  However, the congregation usually sang too.  The seating arrangements were heavy supported planks.  In front of the podium was the mourners bench.  Anyone seeking repentance could kneel at the mourners bench and the converted would pray for the redemption of their sins.

    After conversion the newly redeemed could choose church membership if they chose and receive water baptism.  Official membership in a church gave the individual full benefits of membership along with the responsibility of supporting the finances of the church and accepting the responsibility of supporting all offices of the church.  Of course, there were no electric lights in those days so the arbor was lighted by big lights that burned an open flame.  They hung to a part that supported the arbor.  Of course, the insects came to the open fire in great numbers.  I don’t know why and still don’t know.

    A few funny things around such a community happened.  My brother George was sitting behind a friend, Myrtle Elkins.  As the fire bugs began buzzing around he noticed a black spot on Myrtle’s neck and gave it a swat.  The object still sat there, then he noticed it was a big black wart.

    There was a Mrs. Neisler who would sometimes under a sort of hypnotic spell lie down on the grass.  Once Allie told her friend Maggie you may have to help Mrs. Neisler “come to” sometime.  Sure enough Mrs. Neisler pulled her stunt and Allie’s predictions came true.  Maggie really did use her palmleaf fan to revive Mrs. Neisler.

    There was a group of people from another community called Holy Rollers because they would actually roll on the ground between the benches.  My faint memory tells me we did have a few one time, but they didn’t cause any disturbance.

    Now the protracted meeting was sometimes turned into a camp meeting.  People could take their wagon and camp on the grounds.  But all I recall doing that was Brother Rogers, a preacher.

    Transportation when was by horse-drawn vehicles. Lanterns carried by a wire handle furnished light for travelling in the dark. The farm animals were so meek they didn’t give any trouble. People were relieved and dropped in their offering as a hat was passed through the aisles.

    The songs were mostly Fanny Crosby songs.  Fanny Crosby was well-liked and wrote religious songs that were published in the Methodist Hymnal.  The theme was always the love, forgiveness and optimism of God.  The accompanying music was an organ, wind pumped by foot pedals.  It was really old time religion days, and shouting actually occurred once in awhile.

    Now for a personal note about the Whaley Chapel Methodist Church.  Located about four miles from Gainesville, it was a beautiful wooden building built about the year 1905.  In the vestibule was a marble seal naming the building committee.  My father’s name, George F. Bugg, was there.

    It was there I learned about faith and strengthened by home and family.  It has been the guiding light of my life which at this time is a few days and 87 years.  As time passed the membership grew smaller and it was decided to close the history of Whaley Chapel Church.  The membership joined other churches and the building on the hill became a victim of changing times and the ravages of Mother Nature.

    I lived in Fort Worth, Texas but went to Gainesville often to visit relatives and put aside the pressures of business.  I would sometimes walk in the woods.  Often I would lie flat on my back on the rolling Buckolew Hill, named after the people that lived there, and relax.  It was food for my soul.  I often stopped by the church building, and when I walked inside, memories rushed through my mind.  Broken window panes let the wind blow the leaves of hymnals around.  I had mental pictures of childhood days.  The staff of Sunday School was Mr. Thurmon, Superintendent, Mr. Cunningham, Sec., and Miss Viola Thurmon, teacher of Class Two.  I can’t remember the teacher of Class Three, but Mr. George Smith taught the adult class.  Mr. Gregory taught the card class, which was for the young children that couldn’t read.  They were shown cards with a Bible verse on one side and a related picture on the other.  There was a quarterly magazine that we got every three months.  This book would have Bible stories and verses to memorize in it.

    I remember Allie telling about someone saying during a class discussion that money was the root of all evil.  The statement was noted and the correction was made, inserting the words “the love of money,” rather than just “money.”

    The Amen Corner was a section of the pews where the older men and stewards of the church were seated during the preaching service.  There were occasional Amens.

    The church pastor was chosen by the Bishop and we eagerly awaited when the yearly assignments of pastors to churches was made known by the conference.

    Now the pastor of our church was pastor of three other churches, so we had preaching service only once a month.  Whaley Chapel’s day was the third Sunday of the month.  Preaching followed Sunday School, from eleven to twelve o’clock.  There was someone who always made arrangements with a member to have the preacher for lunch.  Then back for services that night.  The preacher usually spent the night with a member of the church.

    On the wall hung a framed quote, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.”  (Ecclesiastes 12:1)  There was one preacher, Hugh Porter, that my parents related with real well.  They both had several children.  One night when they returned home from church the mothers and children went into the house and Papa took the hack on to the barn.  When he returned to the house, Mrs. Porter said, “Mr. Bugg, there is one missing.”  They went to the hack and found one of the children asleep under the seat.

    The church building was finally torn down and the lumber donated to a church at Ravenna, Texas.


    In 1955 the lumber, pews, pulpit, secretary’s table and a marble tablet became part of the Methodist church at Mulberry.