Monday, August 27, 2007

Living on the Farm in Orlando

By David Parmer

Wasn’t It Nice?

To say that living on a farm in the Orlando area in yesteryear was idyllic probably is stretching reality a little too thin. In fact, reading about farm life in the early years is a lot more fun than having to actually experience it first hand. We remember the Jersey cow, looking content, and a glass of milk on the dinner table; the plow horse, its tail swishing to and fro; geese, quacking their little ones across the barnyard; and the little chicks following behind their mothers. The cellar house was cool on a hot summer day and the hay loft provided a great place to take a mid-afternoon nap. The berry patch was full of plump, sweet berries, and Oil Creek was full of fish, waiting to be caught. And who didn’t love freshly made country butter on fluffy biscuits slathered with home-made jam or apple butter our mothers made. The tall fields of corn, along Oil Creek, were full of tasseled ears on the ten foot stalks, and the York Imperial apple trees in the orchard were full of the red, lopsided apples which made great apple pies. The vegetable garden behind the cellar house had flowers growing along the fence. The hazel nut and butternut trees on the hill produced delicious nuts. And wasn’t it sort of fun to be chased by the old Tom turkey which would grace your dinner plate on Thanksgiving Day? These are a few of the memories of life on the farm during the days gone by. These memories are true, and many Orlando area residents lived them and remember them to this day, and they smile as they reminisce about the “good, old days.”

These idyllic photos of live on Oil Creek are:
~top, right: Beham and Samantha (Skinner) Henline's kids on a late summer day. Sitting on the horse are Polar and Pid Henline. To the right of the horse are Heaterhuck Henline and Vada Riffle who would one day marry Polar.

~ center left: Old Tom Godfrey

~ right: Nelson and Stanley Mitchell, sons of Homer and Lulu (Henline) Mitchell with the fish they caught in Oil Creek. (See the Dec '06 entry Fishing In Oil Creek.)

~ lower left: Holding the cow is Doc Henline, riding her is Pete Rush. Behind the cow from left to right are Hob Henline, Sam Craft's son, Albert Butcher, Clyde Skinner, Dan Moran, and Sam Craft.

Farming Was Often Unrewarding
Counter-balancing the pleasant memories of life on the farm is the stark recollection of the hard work which made them possible. The hard work of Orlando farmers did not always produce enough hard currency to pay the real estate taxes each year or to buy the pretty dress material and fancy ribbons Charlie Knight had for sale in his store. Jobs in Akron, or Weston, or Cincinnati were plentiful and paid real wages to buy the pretty things many folks dream of and want for their own. Those city jobs didn’t require hard, ceaseless labor from dawn to dusk, in springtime mud, in the scorching sun or during the bitter, hard winter freezes.

But, this is a story about what life was like on an Orlando area farm during the past times, not its pros or cons. What did the farmers raise on their farms and produce for sale? What were the techniques used by area farmers to produce their crops? This article will give a glimpse at life on the Orlando farm, so we will know it a little better.
The Farmstead
The typical size of an Orlando farm ranged from a few acres to a few hundred acres. The topography of the Orlando area, consisting of hills and narrow valleys laced with creeks and streams, did not lend itself to large scale farming. Nor was labor in central West Virginia ever plentiful enough to allow large scale farming to flourish. Consequently, most farming in the Orlando area was family farming, in no way a means of becoming wealthy, but instead, merely a way of keeping food on the table and earning a little money for a few frills.

~ To the left above is the farm of Oras and Edith Stutler, near the confluence of Oil Creek and Clover Fork in the middle 20th century.

~ To the right is the McCord - Mitchell farm further up Oil Creek in the early 20th century.

~ Below left is the home Coleman Jeffries built on Oil Creek in the mid 20th century. For more about this house see Tom Jeffries' Feb '07 entry Childhood in Orlando: Early Remembrances of Hauling Lumber

The typical Orlando farmhouse was a small unpainted frame house, easy to build and equally easy to become run-down. A barn, a henhouse, a granary, a meat house, a pig pen, and an outside toilet usually completed a typical Orlando farm.
Farm Animals
There probably wasn’t a farm in or around Orlando without a milk cow. The cow of choice on the Orlando farm seemed to be the Jersey. A brownish red cow, the Jersey cow was noted for giving plenty of cream, a cash crop for many Orlando farm families. There was a ready market for cream. Mike Moran sold a device called a cream separator bought by many Orlando farmers, which made cream production substantially easier than the old method of agitation. Dale Barnett recalls that many farmers around Orlando purchased stainless steel milk cans, with metal name tags identifying the owner. The farmers filled the cans with cream or sweet milk and put them on the train at the Orlando depot for shipment to cream and milk buyers in Weston or Clarksburg. The cans were returned empty and clean the next day. Home made butter made in hand carved butter molds also had a ready market at the Orlando stores or at stores in Weston, Buckhannon, Clarksburg or Elkins, or at points south such as Charleston.

To the right is Gary Stutler, son of Bill & Pat (McPherson) Stutler demonstrating his skill in milking his grandmother Edith (Skinner) Stutler's Jersey cow.

To the left is a sow. Hogs are discussed later in this entry.

Plow horses were plentiful in the Orlando area until the 1950s and 1960s. Farmers needed horses to plow gardens, to pull stumps, to pull a wagon, mowing machine or other machines, or simply for transportation. Few people during the early 1900s had tractors so horsepower was essential for the Orlando farmer. It was generally considered that a horse could plow an acre and a half in a day. There were countless other farming chores which required the use of a horse, such as skidding logs, turning a grist mill or carrying loads of feed, flour or sugar from Charlie Knight’s store in town.

~To the left are unidentified farmers working a hillside field in the Oil Creek watershed.
~ To the right below are Coleman Jeffries and his grandchildren June & Billy Nixon with Coleman's team of horses, in the late 1940s.

Horses were an essential part of Orlando farm life. Generally horses on an Orlando farm paid for their keep in the work they performed. It was the rare horse on an Orlando farm which had more leisure time than work. The Orlando farmer could expect a fifteen to eighteen year work life from his horse. A good work horse was also relatively inexpensive to maintain. The hay from an acre of grass land could feed a horse for a year. When a horse was being worked hard, its hay was supplemented with grain, usually corn or dry feed. Horses could also provide the farmer with a foal every year or so which could be sold as a cash crop or groomed as a replacement work horse.

Orlando enjoyed a horse economy for many years. In the 1920s and 1930s, Orlando hosted a horse traders convention where horses were sold or traded. These conventions were not without incident. Uncle Zeke often complained in his newspaper column that when the horse traders came to town, the bootleggers weren’t far behind and that profanity and lying was rife among the horse traders.

Dale Barnett grew up in Orlando during the mid 1920s until the early days of World War II. While reminiscing about farming, Dale expressed the opinion that sheep probably gives the small farmer a better return on his investment than any other marketable animal. Dale recalls that during the time he lived in Orlando just about every farmer had a few sheep. Two cash crops came with the sheep: wool and meat. Sheep are primarily a grazing animal and have minimal food requirements other than grazing land. Sheep are also quite efficient stewards of the land in that they graze what would soon become brush or trees, thereby keeping the land clean.
To the right are merino sheep today on Clover Fork, at the Kilmarnock Farm.
Dale recalls that a wool co-op purchased wool from Orlando farmers and came once a year, either in July or August, to collect and weigh the wool. He recollects that the wool was stuffed tightly in long burlap bags, perhaps eight to ten feet long, and shipped to eastern markets from the Orlando depot.

Dale also remembers that lamb was often on the dinner table in past times, more so than presently. He noted however that dogs and coyotes generally are mortal enemies of sheep and could easily kill or worry a sheep to death and that the Orlando sheep farmer had to constantly vigilant against those predators.

Orlando farmers raised all of the usual barnyard fowl. Chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and guineas were common feathered creatures on Orlando farms. Although poultry was mostly used for domestic consumption, there was some commercial use of poultry by Orlando farmers. Bill Barnett purchased turkeys, as well as other animals, for re-sale to city markets. According to Dale Barnett, during the 1920s and 1930s, his father, Bill Barnett, purchased turkeys from Orlando farmers, gutted and plucked them, leaving the head and feet intact, packed in wooden barrels and shipped them from the Orlando depot to city markets.

To the left is a Bronze Turkey, one of the heritage varieties that may have been familiar in Orlando.
Below, right, is a guinea hen with chicks.
See also the Mar '07 entry Fowl Business in Orlando .

.Somewhat earlier in Orlando ’s history, Beham Henline who operated an early agency in Orlando for the purchase and sale of farm produce, dealt in poultry sales. In his ledger for July 14th, 1891, Henline noted the sale of fifty eight young chickens, twelve old chickens and two roosters to Hughes & Cromer, along with two green hides and eight sheep pelts. In his August 17, 1891 entry, Henline noted a transaction with Mitchell & Blake of twenty eight young chicks at forty pounds for $3.20 and three old chickens weighing ten pounds for fifty cents. In September 1891, Henline brokered the sale of seven old hens, one rooster and eighty one young chickens and turkeys for a total weight of sixty one pounds for John Conrad to Hughes & Cromer for a grand total of $11.17.

For more on Beham Henline's business see the Sept '06 entry Beham Henline's Business Records

Chicken eggs were also frequently sold by Orlando farmers. The ready availability of rail shipment provided an assured market for eggs. However, farmers were not without complaint about the low wholesale price of eggs paid to Orlando farmers. Uncle Zeke, in his Buzzardtown News column, frequently complained about the pittance paid to farmers for their eggs. He often joshed that the chickens would quit laying eggs or go on strike unless their eggs fetched a higher price.

Dale Barnett recalls that many farmers in the Orlando area kept geese, turkeys, and guineas, in addition to the omnipresent chickens. Geese were useful as “watchdogs”, of a sort according to Dale and when their useful days were over, goose feathers made good feather ticks. Dale also remembers the guineas for their distinctive and unceasing “bawd drat” chatter.

Grain Crops
Grain production was also a common enterprise of Orlando farmers. The most common grain produced by Orlando farmers was of course corn. Corn could be eaten on the family table, fed to farm animals as feed, or milled for bread meal. The earliest grain mill known to this author in the Orlando area was a mill operated by Edward Posey near the mouth of Posey Run. Orlando farmers also raised wheat, buckwheat, and oats. Although buckwheat was not a common grain to the Orlando area, R. M. “Boss” Riffle of the Posey Run area was sowing buckwheat as late as the 1930s. Oats was more commonly grown and was used for animal feed by most Orlando farmers. Sorghum was also a cereal grass raised by Orlando farmers and was used for the production of molasses, as fodder for animals, and the grain for poultry feed. Flukey Posey of Road Run was particularly fond of feeding the grain heads of sorghum to his flocks of turkeys. According to Beham Henline’s ledger books, Orlando farmers frequently sold wheat flour, but also on occasion purchased wheat flour.
~ To the right is Boss (Roy Mertie) Riffle with his wife Den (Nancy Idena) Heater.
~To the left is buckwheat in flower
~ Left below that is Flukey (Daniel Floyd) Posey. More about Flukey Posey see the March '07 entry Flukey Posey – Baritone, Sheep Shearer &. . .
~ Below right is a cradle, used long ago for harvesting grain.

An early method of harvesting grain crops was by cradling. At this early time, a four or five finger cradle was an efficient tool for harvesting grain. The common system of cradling utilized a person as the cutter and another person who followed to pick up the neatly laid out straws and bundle them. With the advent of horse drawn mowing machines, the bulky cradles became obsolete and, were often sold at farm auctions for as little as twenty five cents, according to Dale Barnett. There were two primary types of horse drawn mowing machines used around Orlando, the one horse and the two horse. The one horse mowing machine had a four foot cutting bar and the two horse mowing machine used a five foot cutting bar. Both of these mowing machines were in use around Orlando.
Send a Bundle By Wire
An interesting means of transporting harvested grain from the field to the barn was mentioned to this author by E. R. “Heaterhuck” Henline around 1965. Heaterhuck related that many farmers used the tops of the many ridges in the Orlando area to grow grain crops such as corn, oats or wheat. There is an inherent difficulty of farming the tops of ridges because wagons cannot be driven to the tops of ridges to transport the harvest off the hill. Nor is it feasible to carry loads off the hill, and then re-climb the hill for the next load. Heaterhuck described the ingenuity of the Orlando farmer who would rig up a wire from a tree at the top of the hill and stretch it down the hill where it would be secured by tying the wire off to another tree. Sheaves of wheat or other grain would be bundled and fastened to the main wire by a hook. The bundle would then slide to the bottom of the hill by gravity where it would then be loaded on the waiting wagon for the trip to the barn. As he spoke, Heaterhuck motioned to the top of the ridge behind the former home of John Scott Riffle on the Oil Creek Road as the location of this means of getting the harvest off the hill. Dale Barnett recalls this same system was used on Flesher’s Run at the farm of George Sands. Dale recalls visiting in the area with his father in the late 1920s or early 1930s and watching the Sands boys send sheaves of wheat by wire from a ridge all of the way to the second floor mouth of the family barn in one simple transaction.
Orlando farms in the early days used wagons on a daily basis. Undoubtedly, a few farmers made their own wagons. However, wagons were also manufactured in Burnsville at the Burnsville Wagon Company from around 1880 until nearly 1920. This company manufactured the well-known “Star” wagon and sales of this heavy duty wagon were brisk in the Orlando and northern Braxton County area. With a few repairs from time to time, these wagons were expected to last a lifetime. ~ To the left is a freight wagon.

~To the right is Gid Skinner in the 1950s turning around his mule-drawn wagon in front of the Post Office located t that time in the warehouse. Gid Skinner was the last person in the area to use actual horse (or mule) power for general transportation.
Making Hay
The first cutting of hay of the season was the most important. This cutting is the most tender and nutritious for livestock and the Orlando farmer was always concerned about getting the first haymaking into the barn or in the stack. In times past, weather prediction was often “hit or miss,” and hardly ever communicated, which resulted in many a hay crop spoiled by unexpected rain.

After the grass was cut, whether by hand or by horse drawn mowing machine, the Orlando farmer of the past would have to turn or fluff the grass so that air could circulate into the grass to help it dry. John Jeffries, who worked on the family farm on Oil Creek, advised this writer that when the hay was dried and ready to put in the barn or in a stack, a long pole would be attached at the rear of a horse. The sheaves or flakes of hay would be laid across the pole. A rope or chain was rigged from the front of the pole and through a ring at the rear of the pole. This chain or rope when tightened would hold the hay in place on the pole as the horse moved forward as hay was gathered. The hay would then be moved to the barn or the place where a stack was to be built.
Above is Marion Furman Wymer (1904-1962) who lived on Three Lick. Photo os from his granddaughter Karen Smith at the Braxton County myfamily site.
Making a Haystack
~ To the left is John with his older brother Tom a few years before their hay-makeing days.

~ To the right is their great-uncle Pid Henline with haystacks behind him. (Detail from the photo at the top of this entry.)

The old fashioned haystack was a common sight on the Orlando farm in the late 1800s and throughout most of the 1900s. Farmers took pride in the appearance of their haystacks and built them with precision. John Jeffries and his older brother Tom Jeffries built many a haystack on the family farm on Oil Creek. John advised that the first step in the making of a haystack was to set the center pole. A center pole was usually a fifteen foot tall poplar pole cut in the woods. This pole would be set about three feet into the ground and was braced by four braces which would be nailed into the center pole. When the center pole was firmly set, a floor of old fence posts or boards would be laid on the ground around the pole to keep the hay off the ground. A haystack was then ready to be built. John advised that “flakes” or sheaves of grass were laid in a circle about five feet from the pole. An overlapping circle on the inside, snug to the pole, was then laid on the outside circle. The overlapping of the circles was important to keep the hay from slipping out of the stack This routine was continued until the stacked hay was high enough off the ground that one person known as the “pitcher,” would work on the ground and one worker called the “stacker,” would work on the stack. John advised the author that he was usually the “pitcher” and his brother Tom was the “stacker.” The pitcher would fork flakes of hay onto the stack with a three tined, long handled pitch fork. The stacker would continue building the stack higher making sure that the middle of the stack was wider than the base. This was important because rain should roll off the stack away from the base. This construction was essential in order to avoid unnecessary dampness at the bottom of the stack which could lead to a rotting of the haystack from the base. As the stack grew taller, flakes of grass were twisted around the center pole and stomped or tamped. This was an important technique in order to prevent water from running down the center pole into the center of the stack. Forks would be used to smooth out the stacks so that water would find an easy way to run off the stack. When the stack was completed it would have the characteristic shape shown in the photo to the right.
John Jeffries also noted that blacksnakes would sometimes seek refuge in the hay which was gathered to make a stack and would be among the flake or sheath thrown to the stacker on top of the stack. John said such unwanted company was not appreciated by the stacker on top of the haystack, especially his brother Tom.
Hog Butchering
Perhaps the most common animal around Orlando a hundred years ago was the hog. Even most people who lived in town, without much land, could keep a hog successfully. A hog requires a pen, a primitive shelter, and a trough from which to feed, and other than plenty of food, very little else.

Farmers buy shoats in the spring to prepare for late fall butchering. Some farmers bred hogs for their own use or to sell the piglets or shoats as a cash crop. The fattening of a hog was an annual ritual for Orlando farmers.

Hogs fatten well on table scraps, left over milk, apples, fodder, hog weed, also known as sow meat, and other vegetation. If a sow is bred and has piglets, the sow’s diet is supplemented with corn and dry feed. Shortly before butchering time, hogs also are fed a diet of corn to improve the quality of the meat. The typical size of hogs at butchering time is generally in the three hundred to four hundred pound range.

Many Orlando area farmers planned on butchering their hog or hogs on Thanksgiving Day. Helen Jeffries advised the writer that her family always butchered two hogs on Thanksgiving Day which was also the practice of the E. R. Henline and Clora Henline household. A consistent helper in the butchering process at the E. R. Henline and Clora Henline household was their brother-in-law Homer Mitchell who was always ready to lend a hand. Lottie Henline, wife of Bill Henline, was also ready to help with the butchering. The only requisite time to butcher was any cold day during late fall or early winter. Early on butchering day, a fire was lit under the scalding barrel. The water filled barrel was located beneath a pulley, hung from a tripod, or gambrel, constructed of poles about fifteen feet long. The dead hog was dipped, head-first, into the scalding water several times to loosen the hair and bristles. The hog was then scraped of all hair and rinsed and then it was gutted. The hog was laid on a table or some other flat surface and the butchering began. Most households took a timeout to prepare fresh pork for lunch or dinner for the butchering party. Sometimes the butchering and preservation of the meat lasted into the night and even sometimes into the next day. The end result of the hog butchering process was canned sausage, tender loins, ribs and back bones, hams, head meat became mince meat, souse, side meat became bacon, liverwurst, lard and pickled pigs’ feet to last most of the next year. Chitterlings, known around Orlando as ‘cracklins,’ were also enjoyed by the Henline household. Many households also used the hog brains which were sliced, rolled in flour, seasoned and fried. Clora Henline enjoyed the fried brains. Not limiting her culinary peculiarities to the porcine family, she also enjoyed chicken feet which were skinned, seasoned and fried. Tom Godfrey was particularly fond the pigs’ ears. Hog tongue was also considered a delicacy by some. Helen Jeffries recalled that hog tongue was skinned and pan fried and sometimes ground and used in sausage. Helen also remembered that it was the custom in her household that on the evening of butchering, the workers enjoyed a “mess of sweet and sour backbones and spare ribs.” Some Orlando families smoked their hams, while other “painted” their hams with liquid smoke and encrusted them with a mixture of spices and salt. The hams were encased in sacks and hung from beams in the “smoke house.” Young children liked to retrieve the hog’s bladder, clean it and blow it up like a balloon.

It appears that most Orlando farm families never let any part of the hog to be wasted. Any part of the hog not used by the families was feed to the family dogs.
In Burnsville newspapers published around the first decade of the 20th century, there were many advertisements offering fruit trees for sale. Apparently, national fruit tree companies sought out local salesmen to blanket the country sides with fruit tree literature. Apparently the efforts were rewarding. Dale Barnett recalls that nearly every farm around Orlando had an orchard with a variety of apple trees and other fruit trees. Helen Jeffries recalls that the E. R. Henline and Clora Henline household in Orlando had several varieties of apple trees. Among those apples types were York Imperials, Russet, Early Harvest, Red Delicious, Roman Beauty, “Sweet”, and several types of crabapples. Helen recalls that a Henline cousin and next door neighbor, Newt Henline, had what he called a “Twenty ounce” apple.1 A local orchard owner was asked by this writer what this “Twenty ounce” apple might have been and he immediately identified it as a “ Wolf River ” apple. Most families also had cherry, plum, peach, and pear trees. Of course, all the fruits of the fruit tree could be processed by canning or eaten fresh. Fallen or rotten fruits were fed to hogs. Persimmon and paw paw trees grew wild throughout the Orlando area as well throughout central West Virginia. Joyce Brannon, daughter of Olive (Henline) Brannon, who grew up at Vadis in Lewis County, recalls the annual ritual of gathering and canning persimmons. Paw paws, known as the “poor man’s banana,” also were enjoyed by farm families.

Apples and peaches, above left and right, were some of the orchard fruit.
Many orchards also included nut trees. Although many nut trees, such as walnut, hickory nut, and chestnuts grew wild without the need of planting, some Orlando families planted hazelnut, butternut, and beechnut trees.

Butternuts are pictured to the left.
Dale Barnett recalled that in order to enjoy chestnuts, you had to get up early to get the fallen nuts before the turkeys got them. Helen Jeffries recalls that her late husband, Coleman Jeffries, would say the same thing about turkeys which seemed to enjoy a feast of chestnuts early in the morning.

Dale Barnett also recalls that Bert Skinner, who lived up the hollow beside the Orlando Cemetery , had a fenced orchard which consisted of about a dozen trees. One day Dale was traveling through Bert’s property looking for rabbits and noticed that Bert’s apple trees were invested with bag worms which could devastate an apple tree in a short time. Dale advised Bert of the bag worms stripping his apple trees, and Bert, somewhat of a religious fanatic, laconically replied that “bag worms were the Lord’s army, and that he wouldn’t touch nary a one.” Bert was quite generous about sharing his apple trees with the ‘Lord’s army’ and probably never got a single apple for himself that year.

For more on Burt Skinner's religeous experiences see the paragraph titled "Skinner Brothers Got Religion" in the Apr '07 entry Tales from the U. B. Church
Raising and Preserving Garden Vegetables
Every Orlando household and farm had a vegetable garden. The typical garden consisted of potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, green beans, carrots, radishes, turnips, peppers, cabbage, peas, sweet corn, and other assorted table vegetables. Vegetable crops would be planted in spring after the threat of frost had passed, except for those crops which could be planted earlier such as lettuce and onions. Throughout the spring and summer crops had to be tended by hoeing, thinning, and the occasional watering during periods of drought. However, the real work with garden vegetables began in the fall with the harvest.

Preservation of vegetables was a long, laborious period during the fall. Opal McCrobie and her mother, Clora Henline, spent many hours putting away vegetables. Corn, tomatoes, beans, and peas were canned the usual way. Beans could be pickled and cucumbers made into pickles. Tomatoes could be canned whole or made into juice. They would also do some unusual canning. Opal and Clora for many years would cut the tops off green peppers, stuff them with cabbage, and sew the pepper tops back onto the pepper with clean twine or heavy sewing thread. The stuffed peppers would then be immersed in a jar in a vinegar, spice and water mixture. Later in the winter or following spring the stuffed peppers were considered a real treat. Another form of preservation practiced by Clora Henline was to stitch beans together with thread and hang them in the kitchen. When dried, Clora called these beans “leather britches,”2 perhaps because the beans, although edible, were a little tough when finally eaten. Farm families, such as the Clora Henline household, made every effort to fill every spare jar with processed vegetables or fruit, and didn’t rest until it was accomplished. The more which was canned or preserved the less that had to be bought at the general store.

Another way of preserving food was to bury it in the garden. Dale Barnett recalls that his father would bury apples and potatoes nearly every year in a mound in the garden and use them as needed. Dale recounts that his father would dig a hole in the garden, line it with straw, and then fill the nest with apples or potatoes and mound dirt over it and cover the mound with tin or with roofing. A little door into the side of the mound gave access to the hoard. A drainage ditch around the mound kept water from invading the cache. Dale remembers this as an effective way to preserving the farm produce for winter’s use.
~ Above right are a variety of heirloom tomatoes common in the area, at least into the 1960s.

~ Above left are just-picked from the garden pattypan squash.
~Above on the right is a sampler of canned produce that would warm the heart of any canner.

~ On the left is a crock of shredded cabbage, on its way to becoming saurkraut.

~ Jars of pickles are at the bottom right of this section.
Nice Orlando Area Farms
Farming in the Orlando area was a difficult occupation. The narrow valleys and steep hills in the Oil Creek watershed are not conducive to profitable large scale farming. Most farms were subsistence farms. There were however a few farms which stood out and gave the appearance of successful farms. Bill Barnett was one of the farmers who seemed to know what it took to succeed in farming in this improbable location. His son Dale Barnett, who will be 83 years of age on his next birthday, was asked about successful farms in the Orlando area. One of the first farms which Dale brought to mind was the Clarence Taylor farm at the mouth of Dumpling Run. Dale passed this farm everyday on his way to school at Burnsville and was impressed by its productivity and the husbandry of its owner. Later this farm was operated by Carl Taylor, son of Clarence. Another farm which impressed Dale was the Chubby and Rachel Kidd farm on Clover Fork. The Kidds specialized in Hereford cattle and appeared to be quite successful in their agricultural endeavors. Dale remembers the Chubby Kidd farm as “clean as a whistle, except for large walnut trees which were never cut.” Two sons of these owners, Wes Kidd and Frank Kidd carried on the tradition of their parents. Wes continued to operated the Clover Fork farm and his brother Frank owned a successful farm across the hill on the head of Flesher’s Run.

Another farm which appeared to be a good farm was the former Kate Carney farm on Clover Fork. This farm was later owned by A. J. “Farmer” Knight who had sold his farm on Salt Lick Creek and moved to Clover Fork. Later, Maje Knight, son of A. J. Knight, operated this farm. The farm is currently a working farm producing specialty wools and other fibers. Visit the Kilmarnock Farm's website.

Two additional farms mentioned by Dale Barnett are also on Clover Fork. The George Bennett farm seemed to thrive and was involved in cattle production. The nearby farm of Gid Skinner was also considered to be a successful farm in the Orlando area. Gid raised cattle, along with the usual agricultural pursuits, and also had a small store on his farm to serve his neighbors on upper Clover Fork.

~ Above right are Bill and Marie (Parmer) Barnett

~ Above left are goats today on Kilmarnock, formerly Kate Carney's farm.

~ Across from that picture is Kate's house as it looks today.

~The two photos below those are of Gid Skinner On the left was taken about 1950, with a few of his grandkids, at his farm.
~ On the right is a picture from the very early 1900s of him with his wife Sarah Bennett , daughter of George Bennett mentioned as another good farmer, and their young family. (Gid Skinner is also pictured earlier in this entry driving his mule-pulled wagon.)
Farming in the Orlando area, for all intents and purposes, is a thing of the past. A few landowners still make an effort at farming, but for the most part, the Orlando farms of the past have become the home of the white-tailed deer, the mortal enemy of the farmers of yesteryear. Fields and pastures have grown up and are reverting to woodland. Farming equipment is rusting in the sheds in the Oil Creek valley. Farming, the honorable occupation of the early residents of Orlando , is scarcely practiced as a full-time vocation by the present inhabitants of the Orlando area and the tried and true methods of farming of our forefathers may soon be forgotten.

To the right is a miniature horse named Little Star from the horse farm that thrives on Clover Fork today.
footnote 1. Newt Henline was fond of talking about his “Twenty Ounce” apple which grew on a tree in his orchard. The New York Apple Association describes the twenty ounce apple as a heirloom variety famous for its size and cooking qualities. It has pale yellow flesh and is firm, tender, juicy and tart. It is best for pies, apple sauce and baking. It is available September to November.

~ Above right is an example of the "20 Ounce apple" ~ To the left is Newt Henline.
~ Below to the right is a plate of "leather britches", taken from 'blog Free Man's Table.

footnote 2. In the November/December issue of Mother Earth News, Grace Schillinger wrote more on “Leather Britches” and how to preserve them.

“Pick your green or wax beans when they’re tender and snappy. Wash them and snip off the stem end. The other little sharp pointed tip won’t matter, so leave it on. Let the beans drain until fairly dry, or at least till the water has dripped off.

Take a large darning needle and thread it with white store string. Kite string will do fine. Then thread your beans on the cord, sticking the needle through the middle of each bean. I don’t mean down the center of the bean, just through the center, so both ends of the bean are loose.

Fasten the first bean by wrapping the string around it and making a knot so it won’t pull through. Then go on stringing till your string’s full. Fasten the last bean the same as the first one.

Dry the beans by hanging on a wire in a clean, dry place. An attic or unused room would be okay. Or hang them in your kitchen. They’ll be gab grabbers for sure. In the most high fallutin’ magazines you’ll see how decorators festoon rooms with the most unusual items. All right – go ahead with your leather britches.

The beans will become dry and wrinkled and you’ll wonder what in the world you’ll ever do with them, besides just letting them swing there.

In winter, take your dried beans down – several strings for a large kettle – and remove the strings. Rinse well, then put on to cook. When they boil up once, pour off the first water so you know they’re clean and to remove any bitter taste. Then pour in fresh water, toss in a ham bone and an onion to keep the beans company and salt and pepper to taste. Cook will tender.

You’ll come up with a mighty fine cold weather dish that’ll stick to your ribs. Those beans will remind you of long ago when folks had to preserve much of their food by drying.”

No comments:

Post a Comment