Saturday, June 26, 2010

Country Churches


Traveling across the rolling prairie it would stand out for miles, a land mark. The church steeple dominated the land, high above the plains, crowning the trees nearby. Many of these churches today are more than 100 years old and in a young country that is outstanding.
Settlers of the prairie brought their families with them when they settled on the plains. A part of their family was their religion. Many of the early settlers fled to the new world because of their religion. When they settled they built their homes and grew with the community. The community was a similar mind and they would have a church raising.
One in the community would donate some land and the neighbors would get together and build their church. A pastor would be invited to be the preacher and the church was soon completed. Next to the church, there would sometimes be a cemetery. The country church became a way of life, here the children were baptized, and there would be weddings, social gatherings and funerals. A country church was a focal point for the pioneers settling in the area.
Sundays the bell would chime for services and in front would be wagons parked, nearby was a well and tank for watering. 100 years back the horse was primary form of transportation. On Monday Bessie would be out in front of a plow or some other work, on Sunday though the horse brought the family to church. After services folks would stay for a time, visit, talk about the weather, family or crops. Coffee and fresh baked goods were to be had. The children scurried outside to run and play.
Country life years ago had a different pace and the church was part of this pace. Meetings would be held, clubs met here, classes held, country church life offered a place for the members of the community to discuss common problems and help each other. Sometimes the town was a day’s ride away or more and the parish was a good place to meet.
Neighbors would go to other churches but in cases of emergency they would come together to help each other. Somebody get hurt or sick, families would put their work aside to go help the neighbor. Food would be prepared and brought to the house, all able bodies went into the field to help, men, women and older children. Young ones were watched by older brothers and sisters while those unable to do field work prepared the food and helped in the house. Whatever it took, everybody pitched to help the neighbor.

From the Country church came this outpouring of concern for their neighbors. Helping each other was part of being in the country community and on Sunday they would gather to listen to the preacher and then visit. How are the crops, the weather, is the misses okay, how are the children doing and the talking goes on.
Across the windswept prairie there are a few of these country churches still stand, their steeple pointing to heaven, a cemetery beside it. Sometimes the church has faded into memory and the cemetery is but a reminder of an earlier day.
Five, six or seven generations have served their country church. Grandpa and Granma, along with brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles are in the cemetery. Generations of pioneers grew up working the land and on Sunday they laid down their tools to give God thanks for what He has done for them.
Hours of toil and hard work went into the land years ago. Done by hand, very few machines and the store was a long journey away. The settlers relied on themselves and helped each other to see their way on a journey few today travel.
The family bible that was purchased for Sunday was also the family record. In the bible would be the records of marriage, births, baptism and deaths. It was in God they trusted.
Reaching skyward sits many small churches, some still used others are empty. Some have caretakers, others will fade into memories. The Icon of the prairie still stands, to guide the way for those who seek.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ice Barn

Barns come in all sizes shapes and purposes. Most are used for shelter or storage of equipment. Barns appear on calendars, posters and in books. There are hex signs for them, various wind vanes and lightning rods on the ridge line. Vent ridges, cupolas or high lofty openings. The barn is the icon of rural country life.
On a low knoll sits a rather weathered and indiscreet barn. No designs or unique roof line. It is built into the knoll so that there are multiple levels. The lower level is a walk in for the livestock. Here are the milking stalls, a granary room and the milk room. Above is the hay loft, built at ground level so the wagon can pull in the barn and be loaded or unloaded. At the other edge is the saw dust pile. This is what makes this barn unique, for under the saw dust is stored blocks of ice.
Near by is a small pond and in the winter when it freezes over the neighbors would go out and harvest ice off the pond. Haul it back to their barns and store it. The floor of the ice house was pitched in a way to allow good drainage and easy access to the ice.
A long hot summer day, temperature around 100 degrees, the sun was relentless, no clouds in the sky. Hot, sweaty and dirty, trudging home after a day in the field being able to have a glass of cold water with ice in it, a rare treat in pioneer days. That evening go out and bring in the cows for milking. Set down in the milk barn, a cool air flows from the other side of the barn. After a hot day out in the sun, it would have to feel good to cool off like that. No air conditioning to set in, just what has been provided.
After the milking was done, chip off a piece of ice and carry it up to the house for the ice box along with the milk and cream. The cream and milk will be cold by morning. Some fresh cream for the cereal or coffee.

Having ice in the barn adds a comfort level lots of pioneers did not have. Most early settlers had a cellar or well house to keep things cool. Quite often it was a dug out under the house that also was a storm shelter. Here would be cool storage and if the cistern was nearby it could be quite cool. Canned foods were stored among other things.
Having ice allowed the household to have an ice box. There was no electricity available to the early settlers until the REA came along. So to have an ice box was very unusual. The ice box kept the milk cool, the butter and other dairy products. When the garden was producing it allowed them to have fresh produce longer. It also provided ice for lemonade or tea and they could make ice cream.
Homemade ice cream a treat any time of year but on a hot summer day, now that was the cool life. Set on the veranda in the evening spooning ice cream, maybe some fresh fruit with it.
Dad sitting in a rocking chair, mom in another the children sitting on the front stoop, a breeze floats by and the sun is setting into a crimson glow.
Harvesting ice is a cold and hazardous job. Walking out on the ice with a boring tool and saw, sawing out chunks, pulling them out of the water and hauling them to the sleigh, driving the team to the barn helping the neighbor unload in his barn, going back to the pond for more ice. Checking to make sure it still holds, worrying about falling through. Then there is summer and the fruits of the harvest.
A well weathered barn, without painting for years. Sets on a knoll and looks like nothing special. Yet it held a treasure.
Carry it into the nearby town and sell it to the townspeople or the butcher. Probably barter with the meat locker, so much ice for a half of beef cut up. Keeps the fresh produce cool in the store, there are cold drinks at the fountain. The horse drawn ice wagon made its rounds delivering cool on a hot summer day.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010



Sit in my little abode and read, listen and watch all the discourse about the gulf oil float. Everybody is hollering at the US government… something. Step back and look at things. In reality what can the US do to stop the leak. Does the government have some secret plug stashed away someplace or is there a high tech cap stored in area 51? What does the US government have to help stop the crude oil flow?
On the surface the US government does have some responsibility to help clean up the gulf. There are treaties in place covering international water, so there should be others involved. British Petroleum is not the sole perpetrator of this mess, BP is the lead company of a group of oil companies, so what other companies are going to help? The whole process is a tangled web and because of that there is lots of finger pointing but very little action.
The politicians are showing us how incompetent they are as most of them are as usual….. full of hot air. The bureaucrats are right in there with them.
So to get things done a few people are going to have to step forward and wave a big stick. Not sure who but it won’t be Obama, he is only waving his big tongue.
The gulf coast should be a priority of the government to protect but I have seen very few reports of boom work. Did read today they are burning oil and that will help some, it will take the pressure off of the waters and habitat. Smoke is less damaging to the environment then crude oil is. Second should have been protection of the livelihoods of the people along the coast. One the things our government is to do is help its people and protect them. Right now Uncle Sam is not doing a very good job.
There have been snide remarks that Obama is not helping the states along the coast because they voted against him. Personally I believe there is some substance to that. I see lots of Chicago style politics in the way it is being handled. If the accusations can be shown to be true it will be a scandal beyond anything this country has went through.
Along these lines why hasn’t help that has been offered from various countries, companies and entities been accepted? There are lots of things that are going on behind closed doors and I feel we are only being fed a small portion of information, there are other things afoot… but what?
Out of this I hope as a country we step back and look at our political system and what it can do and what it can not do. We go crying far too much to Big Brother to fix things or take care of us. As a society have we become that incompetent?

Other things
Spaces may wake up and get rid of a few things and restore a few things. They have lost a bunch of people and it will cost them some in revenue. Out of 187 million spaces it is only a drop and they may gain it back. They are in competition with FB where there are over 300 million bodies. What’s ironic is the changes have helped FB and some of the other networks as the disgruntled ones have left to open other pages with other networks. As long as WLS keeps making changes without input and dialogue with their users they will keep feeding new customers to other networks. Will be posted other places and or links.

With the nasty weather gone, yesterday was gorgeous, clear blue skies, temp in the low 80’s and slight breeze. With the storm came the rains and the grasses are green. Flower covered green fields to the horizon. It was a great day to be out and about. Today the wind has picked up so another set of storms brewing. This morning was foggy and cool, the wind is hot and things are drying out again, temp in the 90’s. Isn’t weather so much fun.

Wherever you may be, say a prayer for the people along the gulf coast.