On Sundays, I share some of my memories of living on our heritage farm as a child. The reason I started The Farmhouse Chronicles is my connection to the land of my parents and ancestors, so this series is dedicated to sharing these stories.
The well house stands adjacent to a laneway that ran along my grandfather’s corn crib. As a child, I used to go and explore the long concrete foundation where the corncrib stood, in varying degrees of disrepair, throughout my childhood. In my earliest memories, ears of corn poke through the mesh of the corncrib. Later, only a small section of the corncrib remained, housing Grandpa’s firewood pile. Near the end of the concrete foundation was a pile of stones that I liked to sit on, looking for a certain rock that was plain-looking on the outside, but if I threw it hard enough, it would crack open, exposing a glittering white centre. (These stone piles were scattered throughout our farm along fence rows, where the wagon loads of stones were deposited after a rollicking day of stone picking in the fields. This task was a family affair – we’d take turns driving the tractor while the rest of the family dispersed among the rows of calf-high soybeans to pick up stones and chuck them on a flat wagon, to prevent damage to machinery.)
I don’t have a picture of Grandpa’s corncrib, which may have been built before his time by his father or grandfather, but here are some my father built. I believe that I can still remember when he built this in the 1980s. His design allowed for machine storage under the shelter of a roof. My sisters and I used to play imaginative games there, such as “Olden days school” while sitting on the vintage corn picker machine. I have memories of playing inside the empty corncrib, crawling through slats just like the child in this photo (see link).
I was in about Grade 8 when it really dawned on me that the farm where I grew up had amazing genealogy connections. I remember doing a history project that year where we did our family trees, visited local cemeteries, etc. I had always been interested in playing “olden days” and dressing as a pioneer. But now, everywhere I turned on the farm, my imagination ran away with every little clue.
Beside the well house–which was the small house that housed the well that serviced us, my dad’s parents, and my great aunt’s house–stood a windmill. Not the modern wind turbines you can see in the background of the photo, above (which are not actually on our property). But rather the old-style windmills, like this:
It sometimes made a startling whirring, rattling sound when I was wandering the farm by myself, which, combined with the eerie groaning of the water pump inside the wellhouse, produced in me an stomach-wrenching dread.
I remember the day I noticed the wooden shingles on the roof of the well house, and I was very impressed with how old this little building was.
One day, my two sisters and our friend were examining the building, and we braved opening the electrical box that was on the outside. To our squeals, we discovered a family of tiny white mice living in it.