Farm Women United
Growing up with a strong female role model
by Tina Carlin
I was blessed to have both my mother and my fraternal grandmother raise me. Lillian Emily James Myers (Nan) was born in Cogan House, Pennsylvania, May 21, 1910, to Thomas and Della Hepler James. Nan was one of seven children. She married my Pappy, Otto Harry Myers, and had my Aunt Helen Myers Barto in November 1933 and my father, Harry Otto Myers in June, 1940.
Dolores (Dolly) Anne Lapka Myers was born in Williamsport, PA on September 7, 1938, to Stephen and Agnes Shook Lapka. Dolly was the middle child of three girls. Dolly married my father, Harry, on September 23, 1961, and divorced in 1991.
Nanny and Pappy Myers bought the farm that I was raised on, in Cogan Station, PA, in 1951. It was not a large dairy farm, only 125 acres, of which only 68 were tillable, but it was big enough for Pappy and Dad to farm. Unfortunately, in 1970, Emphysema took Pappy, leaving my dad to take over the farm. I was four at the time. I am thankful that we were able to stay on the farm after Pappy died.
I have lots of wonderful memories of Nan’s cooking and canning. She had her routine. Every Monday was wash day. She would go to the cellar and pull out the wringer washing machine, and she and mom would do laundry. Nan would wash and put the clothes through the wringer, and Mom would hang the clothes on the clothes line behind the house. Every Friday was cleaning day. We would dust and straighten the furniture first and then run the sweeper. We had two good living rooms and then we had the dining/living room where we spent most of our time.
Nan never got her driver’s license because that would mean that she would have to be the gopher and that would have taken her away from her household duties. She was the chief cook and bottle washer in the family. Oh, my mother helped out, but Nan ran the house.
Canning was a big deal to our family. We had two huge gardens, both of them almost an acre in size. I can remember canning around 500 quarts of tomatoes, 400 pints of sweet corn, 200 quarts of green beans, lots of pickles, pickled beets, and a variety of other garden vegetables. Dad would dig the potatoes with the potato digger in the morning, and, by late afternoon, the potatoes were dry enough to crate up and put in the cellar for the winter. We would go to the garden and pick the sweet corn, and Dad would back the pickup truck back to the fence, and we would shuck the sweet corn and throw the husk over into the pasture for the cows. Boy, did they ever like that treat. It would be nothing for us to do a couple of bushel at a time.
We would butcher every fall. I can remember watching them butcher for the first time. I never watched again after that. Finally, Dad would take them to John Flook or to Harlan Bower to have the animals processed. I can remember Nan butchering the chickens, and, yes, they really do run around like a chicken with their heads cut off when they are butchered. That was not a fun time for me either. We would do a hundred in a day. Nan had a very large egg business. We would take care of 150 chickens. We would get a basket full of eggs every day. People would stop by and pick them up, or, when my dad would take her grocery shopping, she would have my dad drop them off to certain customers.
Every fall we would make the rounds to the area apple orchards so that Nan could get a variety of apples to can into applesauce, apple butter, or to make apple schnitz (dried apples) for the winter.
Nan made holidays special for the whole family that included the extended family also. It would be nothing for us to have 30 family members at Christmas and Easter. We went to my other grandparents for Thanksgiving. She would prepare a 30+ pound turkey for Christmas. We got our turkeys from our neighbor, Dale Wheeland. He raised the biggest most delicious turkeys that you could ask for. We always ordered a year ahead, so that Dale was sure to have the size that Nan wanted. The turkey would barely fit in the over. Every Christmas, she and Mom would make caramel popcorn and homemade Chex Mix. Sometimes they would even make popcorn balls. Refrigerator cookies were one of my favorites at Christmas. She would also make raisin filled cookies, but I didn’t like them as much as my sisters did.
I remember, one year, we got a Grand Bride cook stove. It didn’t look like much in the antique (junk) store, but when Nan was through with it, it shone bright black and silver highlights. She would cook on it and bake bread in it, and we also used it for heat. It sat in the archway, between our kitchen and dining/living room. She would sit by it at night and mend socks or watch TV with my dad.
Nan’s baking was the best. She would make lots of cookies and pies. After breakfast some mornings, our neighbor, Skip Kiess, would stop by on his way to spread manure, with his coffee cup in hand, and have a treat of some of Nan’s cookies. I also remember one summer, when we were putting hay in, she had made a big meal for all of the workers doing hay. There were we girls, my Mom and Dad, my cousin John and his wife and their three children, my cousin Pork, and my cousin John’s friend Charlie. Whenever John and his family would come out to the farm, my cousin’s son Jesse, would call and ask Nan to make her Schketti (spaghetti). Well, this particular time, Nan made pies for dessert. We were all sitting around the table eating our dessert when Charlie complemented Nan on her pumpkin pie. John told Charlie that it wasn’t pumpkin. Charlie asked what it was, and John told him it was squash pie. Charlie spit out his mouthful and put his fork down and said that he hated squash and would not finish the pie. My cousin John, who sat across the table from Charlie, stood up, with fork in hand, and proceeded to take Charlie’s piece of pie and commented, that meant there was more for him.
After Gerald and I married, I called on Nan lots of time for canning, freezing, and cooking advice. She gave me several of her recipes that I still use today. She was of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage and certainly came out in her cooking and her values. Sadly, Nan went home to be with her Lord and Savior in 1998, but her memory is still very much alive in our family.
I relate the stories of my childhood growing up with a strong female role model for several reasons. Not only was she a mother and grandmother, she took care of all of the bookwork associated with the farm, along with the day to day workings of the farm. She made the final decisions on the farm. She had a vision on what the farm should be, and she saw that it came to fruition. She instilled in me a strong work ethic, so that, later in life I would be of value to society and be able to help provide for my family and lend support to my husband. Nan supported and worked side by side, first, my grandfather then, later, with my father. Farm women are more than just a wife and mother, they help their spouse or significant other with the daily workings of a farm to the best of their ability to see that the farm succeeds. In our current times, that is getting harder to do. Officialdom does not want to see the small family farm succeed. They are trying their hardest to make it harder and harder to stay on the farm. Farmers at one time, were, and, to me, still are, the backbone of America. Help to keep our families on the farm. Support Farm Women United.
A Christian Prospective
by Tina Carlin
As a Christian woman, I feel it necessary to address the issue of the atrocity that is being done to our nation‘s dairy farmers.
As a former dairy farmer, now vegetable farmer, I feel that producing food that nourishes the people of our world is a noble task. We are doing what God ordained in Genesis for us to do. We are like Abel in the Bible. We give of our harvest just like Abel gave the best of his herd and that is by tithing and giving of our time to the church. What we are doing is God’s work. We are fighting for our livelihood. We cannot give abundantly to the church if we are not getting paid a fair price. If we just ignored the corruption that was going on in the dairy industry, God would wonder why? Why are you just sitting back and letting them do this without fighting especially when God has blessed our nation with a rule of law where no one is to be above the law?
People in the Bible fought against the corruption. Jesus in the temple with the money monger is a good example. The industry elites are the money mongers, and we are the little people who just keep getting taken. Jesus stood up for the underdogs. He ate with the tax collectors, prostitutes, and homeless people. He didn’t associate just with those who did good works or were rich. He associated with people whom the rest of the world looked down upon. Sometimes, we as farmers are looked down upon because we are just mere laborers. Sometimes I feel like the Psalmist in Psalm 123:4 where he says, “Our soul is exceedingly filled with scorn of those who are at ease with the contempt of the proud.”
If it weren’t for our nation’s farmers, we wouldn’t have a wholesome food supply. By sitting back and doing nothing, are we doing God’s work? We are fighting for all dairy farmers, not being greedy and just looking out for ourselves. In James 5:4 we read, “Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” We, the dairy farmers are the laborers/reapers and the fraud that is being committed is the corruption going on in the dairy industry. God wants us to fight. How can we just sit back and do nothing? In Isaiah Chapter 58 of the Old Testament, God brings a stinging rebuke to those who act pious while exploiting others. In John 3:19 we read, “And this is the condemnation, ‘that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.’” Much secrecy surrounds dairy pricing because the powerful believe that we do not deserve cost of production and a living wage for our product. If we do nothing when we know about the corruption, do we keep it in the dark, or do we bring it to light so that God’s judgment can come down on those who are committing the sin?
We as dairy farmers are the faithful. To be able to live on wages that do not even meet the monthly bills is a hard task to do. But we keep doing it. We are like the woman in the Old Testament who has a need for flour and oil. She trusts in the Lord and her flour and oil seem to get her by. We have learned to get by. What officialdom wants is for us to give up. We are not quitters. We are in it for the long haul. No matter what this world does to us, we must never back down from doing what is right. God never promised that things would be easy. He never promised we would be successful. He just wants us to be faithful.
Tinamarie Carlin, former dairy farm wife
Meshoppen, PA 18630