Monday, June 3, 2013

Amanuensis Monday--Elsie Crocker’s Manuscript, Part 17: Food and Animals

To read this project from the beginning, click here.

In this installment, Elsie tells about a couple of foods that her family used to make, a misadventure with her father’s dinner, and a few animal interactions.

Sometime when it snowed, we would make ice cream. We started with a ten pound tin can with a clencher lid. We’d put some cream and a little milk, sugar, vanilla and eggs. We’d find a big drift of snow, we put doun in the snow. We took turns twisting and turning this ice cream. Of course we open the can up once in a while to see how it was coming a long. Icicies were used to freeze the cream instead of the snow, of course the icicles had to be gathered and copped up.

Mother made the best beef steak pudding, as she called it, it consisted of beef, a little flour, a little water, pepper and salt with a suet crust. She cooked it on the back of the stove allday long, on a wood stove. It was cooked in a heavy fire proof bowl, covered withe a cloth. Tied with a string. Then the pudding was put in a pan of water. This was a wonderful dinner with good mashed potatoes.

Mother cooked her plum pudding this way also.

One day Dad asked us to go over to the other ranch, across the flied, from us. This farm also belonged to the Dorrs and the Shaws. The tenants had moved and on one was living there. He had seen some scallions (little onions) over there going to waste. So one day Bill and I decided to go over and get some for him. We cleaned them and put them on the table ready for his dinner. That night Dad was happy to see that we had gotten his scallions. He took one bite. (What ever is this, where did you get this?” We told him it was what he wanted. Bill and I never had tasted or smelled garlic before. We thought it didn’t smell like onions. Bill and I got a kick out of this, he wanted us to get them and then they didn’t turn out right.

When the thrashers, came they would lift up the bundles of wheat. The binder had already been there and put the wheat in sort of standing up piles. The thrashers were pick up the piles and feed them into the machine to knock the wheat out of the stacks. Under some of these piles were a few baby mice, all pink and white. We children liked to watch the thrashers but also these litt mice. Bill and Walter being older than I, would encourage me to carry one of these cute little mice into the house and scare my mother. Of course the boys came with me but I carried this little cute mouse, by the tail into the house. I can still see Mother yelling “Get that out of here. One day she even got and stood on top of the table. Holding up her skirts yelled, Don’t let him loose in here

This was funny until one day, there wasn’t any mice. We found a water dog a little one, I was supposed to carry this in to the house. I took hold of his tail as I had did the little mice. He had a different He just curled up and bit me on the hand. That was the last I ever did that. The boys could carry their own animals after that.

I was surprised Mother didn’t like mice, as she had a little poem. I think she made up. The poem went like thi
     I’m only a wee little mouse ma’m
     I live in the crack of your house ma’m
     With a small piece of cheese
     And a very few peas
     Only having a little feast ma’m
     Oh, no need to open the door
     I can slip right thru this crack ma’m
I always enjoyed this little poem. She said there wasn’t anymore to it.

Every spring the sheepherders would bring their flocks of sheep, by our house, on thier way to the foot hills, to feed during the summer months. We lived on a small hill, we could see them coming in the valley below. The sheep would stir up a cloud of dust. Bill and I would run and get on the gate posts, the posts were flat on top, so we could sit on them. We waited for the band of sheep to come by. Then we would ask the sheep herders, if they had left any little lambs along the way that couldn’t make it. They would tell yes and where they had left them, not to far from where we lived. Bill and I would run all the way and fetch this cute new born baby lamb home with us. Sometimes there was only one and another time there would be a pair of twins. No matter we shared our little lambs. We knew how to feed them out of a bottle. Later they could eat grass and wheat like the big ones. We gave them a lot of love and attention.

Out of curiosity about that little verse about the mouse, I did a quick search on the internet. Without looking very hard, I found what is probably the original of that poem. It is entitled “The Mouse” and was written by Laura Elizabeth Richards:

I’m only a poor little mouse, ma’am!
I live in the wall of your house, ma’am!
With a fragment of cheese and a very few peas
I was having a little carouse, ma’am!

No mischief at all I intend, ma’am!
I hope you will act as my friend, ma’am!
If my life you should take, many hearts it would break,
And the trouble would be without end, ma’am!

My wife lives in there, in the crack, ma’am!
She’s waiting for me to come back, ma’am!
She hoped I might find a bit of a rind,
For the children their dinner do lack, ma’am!

’Tis hard living there in the wall, ma’am!
For plaster and mortar will pall, ma’am,
On the minds of the young, and when specially hung—
Ay, upon their poor father they’ll fall. ma’am!

I never was given to strife, ma’am!
(Don't look at that terrible knife, ma’am!)
The noise overhead that disturbs you in bed,
’Tis the rats, I will venture my life, ma’am!

In your eyes I see mercy, I’m sure, ma’am!
Oh, there’s no need to open the door, ma’am!
I’ll slip through the crack, and I’ll never come back,
Oh! I’ll never come back any more, ma’am!
(I found the full poem in Tirra Lirra RhymesOld and New on the Internet Archive and on Free Fiction Books. It also appears, missing the fifth verse, in The Unitarian Register, Volume 91, on Google Books.)

To continue with the next installment of Elsie's manuscript, click here

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