Sunday, August 21, 2011

Slides: Papa Willard's Farm Life

11 July 1954: Willard Reynolds (age 43) and "his corn."
(That's what was written on the slide!)

Today I will introduce you to my husband's paternal grandfather, Willard Reynolds.  Born in December of 1910, Willard grew up on the family farm and embraced everything about farming life.  Ed remembers his grandfather--whom he still refers to as "Papa"-- as one of the fastest and strongest people he has ever known.  He says he was 16 before he was able to beat Papa in a foot race.

Papa Willard checks out a maple tree that is being tapped for its sap.
Based on the markings on this slide, it was taken sometime between 1952 and 1955.

Ed describes his grandfather as being about 6'4" tall, which would have been unusually tall for a man in those days.  From these pictures it is clear that he was a tall, lean, wiry man who worked very hard to earn a living from the land.

February 1953: Papa Willard (age 41) drills a maple tree
to begin collecting sap which will be processed into maple syrup.

Papa Willard continued the tradition begun by his own grandfather (Ed's great-great-grandfather) of tapping the maple trees on their farmland and producing maple syrup from the maple sap.  This process was begun at the end of winter, when the trees still froze at night but warmed up during the day.  Ed tells me this is the only way to get a maple tree to pump out its sap.

Spring 1955: Papa Willard (age 44) fills cans with maple syrup before selling them.

Of course, there were plenty of other tasks to be done throughout the remainder of the year.  The following slides depict what life on the farm was like.  Keep in mind that the descriptions written under the slides are quotes from what was hand-written on the slides themselves.  I don't even know what some of them mean!

1953: Papa Willard (at right, age 42) consults and plans with someone called Winch.

1953: Papa (on the right) does more consulting out in the fields
with Winch and Rooney (left and center). 

1953: Papa Willard (age 42) atop a truckload of freshly baled hay.

1953: Papa Willard (age 42) baling hay.

1950: Papa Willard (age 39) elevating hay.
(I assume that means putting it up in the loft to be stored...) 

1954: Papa Willard (age 43) combining oats, with
his daughters Edith and Lucy (Ed's aunts) riding on the back of the combine. 
(According to Ed, when you combine oats, you're actually separating them.  Huh???)

1954: Papa Willard, a hired hand, and Papa Willard's son (Ed's dad) chopping bedding.
(Is that what the cows sleep on?)
Notice the beautiful family garden in the foreground. 

1954: Papa Willard (age 43) chopping corn.

Besides all the farming of the land, remember that the Reynolds Family Farm was a working dairy farm, as well. That meant attending cattle shows and cattle auctions. From a very young age, my husband Ed was closely acquainted with the Angus cows on the farm.

1955: I loved all the old cars and trucks in this photo,
taken at the Caledonia, New York, Cattle Auction.

One story Ed tells is of a time when he was a small child, only 5 or 6 years old, and he unintentionally offended a momma cow.  The cow had gone to the furthest edge of the enclosure to deliver her calf, and young Ed was helping Papa bring the calf and its momma back to the barn.  While Papa handled the cow, Ed was in charge of herding the newborn calf, who was reluctant to continue the tiring, mile-long trek to the barn.  When Ed began pushing the calf forward, the mother cow knocked Ed on his back, hard.  Getting down on her knees, she tried to grind him into the soft ground with her head while Ed looked up at the sky in terror, unable to free himself.  He thought he was going to die until Papa came along and whacked the cow across the nose with a heavy cane until she let young Ed up.  Papa to the rescue!

1955: Papa Willard (age 44) with some of his Angus cattle.

Even after Papa Willard sold the family farm to his son (Ed's dad), he continued to live with his son's family and helped run the farm for 5 or 6 years longer.  This made him an important figure in Ed's early life.  When Ed was as young as 4 years old, his grandfather took him into the fields, woods, and barns, and allowed him to help with various chores, teaching my husband a strong work ethic which has endured throughout his life.  I guess you could say that Papa Willard's legacy lives on!

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