I remember the small town grocery stores from my childhood. A fraction of the size of today’s stores, they nonetheless seemed to have everything we needed. Shopping also use to take a fraction of the time it takes today and I often find myself grumbling over the complexities of the task. Shouldn’t things be simpler now that society is more advanced?

Obviously the big difference is the options today. Today we have an enormous frozen foods section, and shelves lined with the options that are salt free, gluten free, non GMO or organic—-and that doesn’t include all the variation of herbs, spices and ethnic variations for even the simplest of products. The meat department is equally complex with varieties of meat touting grain fed, free range and cage free and we can’t forget the signs for things such as “natural chicken.” Such signs always make me want to ask where is the unnatural chicken?

family history, genealogy, ancestry, feeding a family, farms, milch cows

Those days when I feel tired by it all,  it’s good to be reminded that as complicated as shopping is today, providing food for a family use to be even more time intensive during my grandparents’ era. My Grandma Hazel Ganus shared a little about what it was like for her parents to feed their family. She said that growing up they never had much money to spend on treats, but they always had something in the house to eat. In her life history Grandma recorded:

Dad had milch cows so we had plenty of milk to drink and cook with. We also had our own butter, and sometimes we made cheese. He also had pigs, we would kill for meat and to make our lard for cooking. Also a calf or two or an old cow that couldn’t have calves any longer. We always had enough meat to last through the winters or cold months. For summer meat he would cure the meat in salt brine which had to be strong enough to hold a egg on top of it, or smoke it with apple tree limbs, or by rubbing enough salt in it to keep. And sometimes in the winter he would hang it in the grainery and let it freeze. We always had our supply of flour, corn meal or graham flour for a year too. Dad would take enough meat to the mill either in Los Cerritos or Conejos. It seemed to keep very well then. Mother raised chickens, so we had our eggs and fryers and stewers. From the eggs and butter mother would buy what staple things we needed. Sometimes she and dad would drive to LaJara or Alamosa for these things. If they went to Alamosa it would take all day to go. They always took the back road then as it was well traveled. My dad and older brother liked to hunt and fish. I remember Martin coming home from a hunting trip with wild ducks and rabbits hanging from both sides of his saddle. These were always a welcome sight. We all liked baked duck and mother would sometimes keep the jack rabbits, grind the meat and mix it with other meat and make sausage. It was real good


It’s a good reminder that now really is simpler, although the options are more complex. While standing and gazing into the stuffed refrigerator and claiming there is nothing to eat, in reality, most of us have to admit, there is always something in the house to eat and thankfully unless we choose to, in today’s world we don’t have to be the ones to raise it, hunt for it or grow it.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Please follow and like us:

10 thoughts on “Something in the House to Eat

  1. Raising 8 kids, my mother-in-law always cooked in volume. Bread was baked in an enamel wash basin. There was always a cake and pie on the kitchen table. When Barry was a kid, his mom never knew how many people would be at Sunday dinner because the kids always brought somebody home with them after church. I doubt I could accommodate one surprise visitor.

  2. How fortunate to have the first person account. A cousin recorded my aunt's recollections of living on a farm in the 1920s and cooking for farm hands as well as husband and babies. She had to take care of the chickens, pump the water and carry it up the hill to the house, can and preserve everything possible from the garden and fruit trees, help with butchering and know how to cook the bits that we happily pass over today. Her life was hard, but it was even harder for the earlier generations. When I research earlier Ancestors in Aprons for my blog of that name, I often wonder how in the heck they found time to do anything else. Because they also were making clothes, embroidering and sometimes weaving and quilting and lace-making!!!

  3. I've had the same though Vera. How in the world did they do anything else? But I wonder if their expectations for life were a little different too. Since most everyone lived that way (at least in the farming communities) I wonder if they didn't expect to do anything else. Without many of the forms of entertainment that are so common in our world today, I suspect life was viewed differently, although I really don't know for sure. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I believe it Anna! I can not imagine doing so much work just to eat. It seems that so much of their life was focused on just surviving and it makes me realize how much time we spend on other things, like recreation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top