You could say that Country Folk are a special bunch with some keen Country Know-How and just plain practical knowledge on various topics. I don’t purport to be an expert on anything, but I may have learned a bit growing up on a farm in the South East corner of Saskatchewan. For instance, most people wouldn’t realize I could drive a tractor (if I had to) or a grain truck (which I did quite a bit), plant and tend a vegetable garden (part of my ongoing chores), deliver piglets (probably one of my highlights) and make dandelion tea or churn butter from scratch!
Canning and Baking
Our mother was the expert at canning, baking bread and experimenting with growing a variety of vegetables that I had never heard of… At one point she started growing zucchini, back in 1979! She tried cooking it in various dishes and baked items. The zucchini bread was awesome! Turns out they weren’t that hard to grow, very similar to cucumbers!
Every year, we would go berry picking in the bush to pick Saskatoon berries for canning and pies. My mom made lovely chokecherry and crabapple jellies and canned Saskatoon berries and rhubarb. She also canned green beans which at that time were NOT my favorite. A favorite of mine were the bread and butter pickles, as well as the canned Rhubarb, Saskatoons and Crabapples 🙂
Her Saskatoon pies were memorable, and made with the wild berries from the Saskatoon berry bushes! At one point she had us picking rose hips, as she had heard they were good for something. She usually paid us a $1 per ice cream gallon pail for our efforts. She also grew Sunflowers for the sheer joy of the tall beautiful flowers, as well as for drying the Sunflower seeds…So good!
Farmer’s have many skills
Our father and my brother did most of the ‘heavy farm work’ with the animals and crops. However, I did help feed the cattle on a fairly regular basis, milk the cow once in a while and help Dad as his ‘gopher’ whenever he was fixing broken down equipment e.g. passing him tools and parts under a cultivator, etc.
I was always amazed at how my Dad could do so many things, so well: Welding, Electrical, Carpentry, Mechanic, on top of raising pigs and cattle, chickens and planting and tending crops, as well as being an amateur veterinarian and doing whatever was needed to keep those animals alive.
The old blacksmith shop was a necessity for every farmer and was a bit of a mystery to me. It always looked well used, crammed full of various mechanical items, with a multitude of tools hanging along the walls and the strong smell of oil and grease hit you as you walked in the door.
Here’s a picture of my dad’s veterinary kit/needle, etc. It’s amazing that he knew how to use this! Another country know-how mystery!
Our grandfather was a ‘well witcher’ and had a reputation for being able to ‘find’ water when no one else could. His skills were called up by many local neighbors. Instead of a divining rod, like you hear about, he used a heavy crowbar and balanced it on his finger(s). At some point it would just veer downward to the correct spot! You just can’t explain some things!
The Vegetable Patch
Another example of basic country know-how and mainstay for most country folks was the vegetable patch. My mother used to talk about the vegetables and some fruits being canned and stored in our dirt cellar. She would also do a lot of canning each year and based on a family of 5 we always seemed to have enough from our vegetable patch to keep us going. I definitely spent more than a few hours weeding and tending that garden with her.
We usually had a potato patch (separate), and a vegetable garden was about 100 ft long (at least) by about 30 ft wide. This included rows of:
Corn – 2 or 3 rows at one end of the Garden
Peas – at least 2 rows
Green Beans – 2 or 3 rows
Cucumbers – a whole section since they spread out
Lettuce – at least 2 rows
Tomatoes! – Lovely medium sized plants – 2 or 3 rows
Green Onions – 2 or 3 rows
Dill – a whole section
Carrots – at least 2 rows
Zucchini – again a section
Rhubarb – another couple rows for sure
and those Sunflowers – a couple rows at the other end!
It seems like I spent hours weeding that garden at my mother’s command! The amount of fresh vegetables we harvested was truly amazing. I don’t remember using any special soil, fertilizer or weed spray, but just good old hard work, farm soil and water. These were the early organic days!
There is nothing better than fresh veggies from the garden. Yes, snapping green beans in a large bowl before dinner, eating a handful of peas right off the plant and pulling a fresh carrot out of the ground are definite memories engrained in my brain and remind me of that simpler time.
Chickens and Cows
At one point we had a full hen house of chickens, and a milk cow which kept us busy. Daisy, our milk cow, was so friendly. We drank the fresh milk after the cream was skimmed off. With the cream, we made butter, using the old fashioned butter churn, and then my mom would press it into the butter mold…It was fun and the taste was velvety and melted in your mouth, truly incredible!
I understand that growing up with unpasteurized milk and other farm fresh goods gives people better immunity from tummy bugs etc. Even now, I tend to not get stomach problems unless something is ‘really off’. In later years we bought our milk and eggs from a neighboring farm.
Pigs, Pigs and more Pigs!
Yeah we had a lot of Pigs…it started small but then my dad thought the price of pigs was pretty stable and hopefully profitable, next thing you know he was building a pig barn and we had 300! Needless to say hired hands were required to keep everything going. That’s where me delivering piglets came in. I got asked to watch over a momma about to deliver and sure enough she gave birth while I was the only one home. I won’t go into all the details. But having watched my dad many times and how he would clear away the placenta from the baby pig, I knew what had to be done. Quite the memory!
Life was never dull and always busy!
Hope some of these memories give you a hint of farm life. As I remember more, I will update this page. However, I will rely on some experts to bring you the real goods. I like sharing the knowledge and practical tips. No point recreating the wheel here!
Some of the links below may be affiliate links and I may earn a small commission off of the sale of these products, but the price you are charged is not affected.
Country Know-How – Books by the Experts
Here are a few books on country know-how and country living that you might enjoy:
The following books look like authentic sources for a lot of good info:
I have an earlier edition of the following book and it truly is an Encyclopedia of everything you might need to know! The second book looks good too!
American and Canadian sourced Seeds
If you want to order some vegetable seeds to start your own garden, Amazon has a huge selection from local North American growers.
I picked a couple of American and Canadian suppliers below:
If you are as interested in Country Living as I am, I hope you enjoyed this page on Country Know-How. Don’t forget to visit my other pages on Country Living. If you have any comments, please leave them in the comments section below.