The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

"The Wisdom Of Barnyard Bruke: "Country Sights, Winter Cold Cowboy Style, Cowboy Ugly, Early Farm Days, Legacy"

Greetings ta ever one in western Illinois and all readers of The Quill.


Next Tuesday, December 22 is the first day of winter and later in that week is Christmas. I'm a hope'n everone is gett'n along well with their Christmas shopp'n and make'n good plans fer family gather'ns and so forth. As a feller drives around our small towns and villages, as well as the countryside, it is enterest'n observe'n the many different lights and displays. Some folks put a lot of effort into the holiday spirit and bring'n joy ta others around them.



With official winter come'n on with its inevitable colder weather, I am reminded of the story of an Indian and a cowboy. On a cold midwinter day, an Indian and a cowboy were traveling together. It was colder than a well-chain in January.

The Indian had on no clothing except a loincloth and a blanket. The cowboy had on red flannel underwear, woolen shirt, heavy pants, jacket, and overcoat. Yet through all this clothing, the wind cut like a knife. The Indian showed no signs of discomfort.

"Ain't ya cold?" asked the cowboy.

"No!" said the Indian.

"I cain't understand it. Here I am wrapped up like a mummy with all the clothes I can carry and not cripple my horse. I am about to freeze to death even with this heavy bundle on. And you have only a thin blanket and ya say ya are not cold."

"Is your face cold?" asked the Indian.

"No, my face is not cold but I'm about frozen through ta the bones everwhere else."

"Me all face," said the Indian.

Well, I reckon that explains it then. I've known a few warm blooded fellers who I'm a guess'n were "all face", fer in the coldest weather they seem ta dress ever so lightly even with their collar open ta mid chest level. Made me have the shivers just see'n em out there in the cold.


Whilst I'm on cowboy stories I'm a wonder'n if'n ya might find the follow'n tale enterest'n , entitled Ugly.

One time there was a cowhand named Tollie Sands who was so ugly he had ta sneak up on a dipper to get a drink of water. Once, he purchased a mirror from a travel'n peddler but wisely kept it hid so his jealous wife wouldn't see him admiring himself. They never had a mirror before, be'n born and raised far out on the lone prairie.

One time, his wife was a snoop'n in Tollie's stuff and to her horror, she discovered the mirror.

"So that's the sour-faced ole hussy you've been chase'n, is it? With that she smashed the mirror over Tollie's bald head.

That's all the old fashioned "cowboy humor" I'm a gonna share with youn's fer now fer fear ya might think all is humor for this week's column. Whilst I just told ya of two old fashioned jokes, let me touch on how it was back in the early old fashioned days on the farm.


In the beginn'n, a farm was an almost totally self sustain'in unit. When family arrived in advance of roads on the early farms, and towns of any consequence were few and far between, a feller had to be self-sustain'n. Many of the arts and crafts of those days were continued over into the twentieth century.

Water was pumped with a windmill or by hand if the wind didn't blow. There are a few of them stately structures that remain around these parts even yet. The only illumination was by coal oil lamps and lanterns. The only fuel fer the heat'n stove and the kitchen was wood from a timbered area on a nearby stream or woodlot, cobs from hand shelled corn or dried "cow chips" from the pasture. Ice was drawn from the stream with the help of neighbor work crews and stored in an ice house packed in sawdust.

The tool shed, as primitive as it was, held only the most necessary equipment, and included a few such important items as a leather punch and rivets along with a course needle and waxed thread for mend'n harness. Spades, shovels, a good axe, a hand forge, an anvil and a vise, some hand tools, and a few other things of basic necessity.

The larder (fruit or root cellar or pantry) fer the family table was well stocked with potatoes, flour ground at a nearby water power mill, corn meal, hominy, dried fruits, home canned fruits and vegetables, home cured pork, corned beef, kraut, molasses, pickles, eggs, and chickens in quantities to last fer days, weeks, and even months.

None of these things were free. They all required long hours of hard work, sweat, and ingenuity. Be'n snowed in fer periods of time or mudded in held few fears fer such self-support'n families.

They say it doesn't pay to do such things now, but it takes lots of money to do otherwise. If'n emergencies prevent the daily or tri-weekly trip to town, the pantry of the modern farm or city home is soon bare.

Loose'n electricity causes loss of water fer livestock and family in a short spell, electric cookstove and appliances have stopped, heat is lost in the home and the house gets cold quickly on a winter day,

Self-sufficiency has surrendered to the food processor, the corporations, the automobile, and modern highways.


The footprints placed on our farms today are easier than our ancestors made many years ago. The strong foundation those folks laid supports the progress we have today.

Those ancestors blazed a trail fer us to foller along. We have learned from their mistakes and built on what they did fer the benefit of all folk. Their mark continues on all that we have.

In all the efforts those old folks did, much good carried on long after their passing. It would be well fer us folk to leave a trail that would be of help fer those who follow us.

That's it fer this week's column. Don't get stuck in the mud with all this rain we've been a have'n. Oh, and by the way, ta the surprise of many there was much field work accomplished before the rain on Sunday. Tillage, fertilizer, drainage tile, all were attacked vigorously those few days after the fields dried out.

Have a good rest of the week.

Hope'n ta see ya in church this week and enjoy the various Christmas programs put on at our schools and churches. Build memories fer your children, grandchildren and yourselves.

Remember: "Wherever ya is, whatever ya be a do'n


Keep on Smile'n

Catch Ya Later