Pioneer Potluck: About growing up on the farm

  • By Grannie Annie
  • Tuesday, April 1, 2014 3:36pm
  • LifeFood

1937 to 1955

Northern Colorado


If you turned off Highway 14 going east out of Fort Collins, at Cactus Hill Observatory Grade School District 101 and went two miles north on a dusty dirt-gravel road, you were at John and Loretta McClure’s Shamrock Shorthorn Ranch.

After the remodel of the house, the planting of grass in the front yard to replace the dirt we used to play in, Dad put a swing in the Boxelder tree for us to swing on. I loved pushing my sisters on that swing — and my little brother Jim. If I pushed Elaine long enough in the swing she would go to sleep. Dad also purchased a hammock (which none of us kids mastered). Dad would carefully crawl in the hammock and rest after dinner (lunch) under the cotton wood tree that provided lots of shade from the hot Colorado summer sun.

After his rest he would pull his irrigation boots back on, get in his old International pickup and go back out to the corn, sugar beets and hay fields. He “walked” the rows to see if all his little ditches were full of precious irrigation water that soaked into the thirsty ground. The crops would grow and produce his fall crops of hay bales, corn silage and the sugar beets that put him in the Top Ten Sugar Beet production for northern Colorado. We knew how tired he was as he got up at 3:30 every morning to go out and “check the water” just in case some of the water was running some where else and wasting some of the water that his crops so relied on.

Mom always had a nice dinner (what we call lunch now) on the table right at noon, mashed potatoes, fried beef, gravy, vegetables and always a dessert of some kind. He would go rest in his hammock and I would help Mom wash the dishes in the new sink that had running hot and cold water. It was carefully guarded and we did not waste “a drop.” Water was something that we were always conscious of and if we wasted “a drop” we were duly scolded.

In the early days before the remolding of the house, we had an iceman that came around and Mom would purchase ice from him for the “ice box.” Us kids would line up so we could get some of the slivers of ice he had after chipping off a square of ice for Mom. We loved the ice man! Sure is funny how the iceman and the water wagon disappeared into the forever memories of a few of us.

The milk man was another person that disappeared after big milk trucks came along and sucked up the milk into the big tanks. The milk can became a flower pot decoration in the yard. The ice box got hauled off to the dump and the big old black cook stove was gone and replaced by Mom’s big white electric stove that said “ELECTRIC” on it. I still do not know what happened to that big old cook stove! How I would love to have it now, decorating some corner of my house, of course! Although I do cook on our wood heating stove, it does not hold a candle to the wonderful loaves of bread, cakes, cookies and beef roasts that came out of that old stove. Or the Sunday fried chicken and mashed potatoes and milk gravy it produced on top of the stove. Or the heat that it provided us kids as we got dressed in front of it in the winter.

Mom’s flowers were gifted with the irrigation water also — she honestly looked forward to the days Dad would “let” the water down the ditch beside our yard so she could either go bare foot or in her little Woolworth canvas to take care of her flowers. They also planted a garden but I do not remember too much about it — other than Mom said it was too much work for the amount of vegetables and tomatoes she got. So it was a short two or three year adventure. They planted apple and cherry trees in the garden area “out beyond the clothes line.”

Mom picked cosmos and snap dragons and what ever flower she could spare for the kitchen table or the dining room table. She always took time to arrange them in beautiful bouquets and stand back and admire her handy work. I never got the hang of flower arrangements, much to the disgust of Bernie, Susan and a few of my other friends. I trim the stems, put them in water, tell them they are pretty and it’s all done in a matter of seconds. My Mom and Bernie and Susan will take time to arrange them in a beautiful vase that transformed those flowers into a burst colors.

This summer I am looking forward to all the beautiful flowers that Susan planted for me last summer in my country garden beside the sewing room. I will pick some and I will take the time to arrange them in a beautiful vase that Ginger or Susan gave me. Because I have waiting so long for the spring and summer!


A small house will hold as much happiness and a big house.

Yes, to become simple and live simply, not only within yourself but also in your everyday dealings. Don’t make ripples around you, don’t try so hard to be interesting and do everything. Keep your distance, be honest, fight the desire to be thought so fascinating by your friends and the outside world.

— Ella Hillsum


“If you had everything —where would you put it??”

— Ann Landers


Please pray for the less fortunate, the ill and the sad. Most of all never forget that we have more than most, especially those who are fighting diseases. They need all the prayers we can offer. Thank you for yours! And never forget to Thank God for this day and all that he has done.

More in Life

Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion
This French onion frittata is delicious and not too filling.
A light meal to fuel fun family outings

This French onion frittata is delicious and not too filling

Christ Lutheran Church Pastor Meredith Harber displays necklaces featuring the cross in this undated photo. (Photo by Meredith Harber/courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Interwoven together for good

I hope that we can find that we have more in common than we realize

Virgil Dahler photo courtesy of the KPC historical photo archive
This aerial view from about 1950 shows Jack Keeler’s home on his homestead east of Soldotna. The stream to the left is Soldotna Creek, and the bridge across the stream probably allowed early access to the Mackey Lakes area. The road to the right edge of the photo leads to the Sterling Highway.
Keeler Clan of the Kenai — Part 6

“Most of those homesteaders won’t last”

A sign points to the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, May 9, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Art Center accepting submissions for ‘Medieval Forest’

The deadline to submit art is Saturday at 5 p.m.

People identifying as Democrats and people identifying as Republicans sit face to face during a workshop put on by Braver Angels in this screenshot from “Braver Angels: Reuniting America.” (Screenshot courtesy Braver Angels)
KPC lecture series to feature film and discussion about connecting across political divide

“Braver Angels: Reuniting America” is a nonpartisan documentary about a workshop held in the aftermath of the 2016 election of Donald Trump

Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion
This basil avocado dressing is creamy, sweet, tangy, and herbaceous — great for use on bitter greens like kale and arugula.
Memories of basil and bowling with Dad

This dressing is creamy, sweet, tangy, and herbaceous

Photo courtesy of Al Hershberger
Don and Verona pose inside their first Soldotna grocery store in 1952, the year they opened for business.
Keeler Clan of the Kenai — Part 5

By 1952, the Wilsons constructed a simple, rectangular, wood-frame building and started the town’s first grocery

Minister’s Message: Finding freedom to restrain ourselves

We are free to speak at a higher level of intelligence

Dancers rehearse a hula routine at Diamond Dance Project near Soldotna on Thursday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Moving into magic

Diamond Dance Project all-studio concert puts original spin on familiar stories

Most Read