Sunday, December 21, 2008

Henry Pratt's Memories IV

Linda's 1965 paper goes on:
Perhaps because farm life has changed so incredibly in the last 50-60 years the past and its methods stand out clearer in a man's memory. Fruit farming before 1920 had changed little since the Civil War. It was highly self sufficient and, in contrast to farming now, the larger the farm the more self sufficient it was. W.M.Pratt, Henry Pratt's father, owned 80 acres and leased another 70 in Hagar Township, before 1912, just outside of Benton Harbor. This is
medium large for a fruit farm now and its was then considered one of the larger fruit farms in the county.
"Though my family depended on fruit for its main income, it also raised hogs and kept four or five milk cows. A large part og the family's food was raised, and butchering was a regular winter chore, both for market and home meat supply."
Many farmers made their own maple syrup in those days and the Pratts were no exception. A row of large hard-maple trees grew on their property along the road. The trees were tapped each spring and maple syrup and sugar made. A brick arch or fireplace which had a large steel pan about six inches deep on top of it was used to cook the sap down.
"A fire was kept going under it through the day and when the sap run was heavy, into the night".
More sap was added periodically as the water boiled off. When it reached the right consistency it was all drawn off and another batch started. Some of the syrup was taken into the kitchen range and boiled some more until it became maple sugar. (emailed July 6)

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