Flowers, Vegetables and Chickens

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Most of the farm garden was planted in vegetables, for eating during the summer and to preserve for the coming winter, but each season, several rows of different flowers were always included just for their beauty. Sometimes there was a separate plot dedicated to flowers alone.


A number of the flower seeds, plants and cuttings had been the gifts of friends from their own gardens...especially colorful zinnias, sturdy pastel hollyhocks or towering sunflowers. Their seeds were faithfully harvested each fall and saved for the next year.


When friends or relatives came to visit on a summer Sunday afternoon, they frequently brought along a garden flower bouquet or some of their current vegetable bounty as gifts.


“What can we take along?” was the prevailing thought. Having company on the farm was not all that frequent in the days of horsepower and that made any occasion all the more special. Strawberries or raspberries in sauce over cake were often served.


Visitors, on their trip home, were pressed to take some fresh sweet corn, green beans or whatever was in season.


A cutting from a rose bush, some root stock, a lily, or young rhubarb plants added variety to farm gardens and remained living gifts that were often referred to by name...Nellie’s raspberries, Kate’s pickling cucumbers or Lillie’s cosmos.


Sweet peas, pansies, morning glories, daisies, moss roses, tiger lilies, phlox, cockscomb, marigolds and asters, in turn, also filled the farm gardens with color. Mama always kept blossoms in a little glass vase on the kitchen table throughout the summer.



At last, the point in summer came when the family could enjoy vine-ripened tomatoes and sweet corn every day from the garden. There were red cherry tomatoes and little, yellow pear-shaped ones, served fresh on the table. Medium-size tomatoes were used for canning, as preserves or served in a lightly pickled salad with onions and cucumbers. There were lots of tomato sandwiches on fresh home-baked bread. The very large, late tomatoes were eaten sliced with salt or a light sprinkling of sugar and several slices could cover an entire plate.


Enough sweet corn, for everyone to eat, was picked just before a meal. Mama sent the girls out to the garden to select the ripest ears of corn, husk and thoroughly clean them, carefully removing all of the silk. Back in the house, she placed the corn into a large pot of boiling water for five minutes. The steaming corn on the cob was immediately served on a big platter, ready for butter, salt and pepper.



A large number of the family’s flock of chickens were Barred Plymouth Rocks. This variety, very popular at the time, had feathers with narrow black and white markings, which appeared as bands or stripes.


The variety had been developed in Massachusetts in the mid 1800s and steadily gained approval among farm families. Barred Plymouth Rocks were known as a dual purpose variety, acclaimed for their hardiness, and enthusiasm to forage when roaming freely, with an easy to tame, docile nature.


Hens could weigh about seven pounds (3 kg) and laid brown eggs. A mature rooster could exceed nine pounds (4 kg). Later, when the White Plymouth Rock variety was introduced, some of these were added to the flock, as chicks from a hatchery in town.