100 West University Street

We had always talked about having such a place as we now had, and how we would like a garden and farm animals, and maybe even our own horses. Peg convinced me, her Brooklyn boy husband, that we ought to get a cow for starts. So as spring came, we went about putting up barbed wire fences and converting one of the chicken coops into a barn with two stalls for horses and a stall with a stanchion for a cow.

I had noticed that two pipes in the cellar headed toward the chicken coop. One was from the water tank, and the other was for gas. We checked the chicken coop and found two pipes coming from the direction of the house. But both pipes were similar. Which pipe brought water to the chicken coop, and which was the gas pipe? No way of knowing. I hooked up one of the cellar pipes to a gas radiant heater in the chicken coop (now, the barn) and the other to a faucet. I had a fifty-fifty chance that I had hooked them up correctly. One or two students were there helping Peg and me as I hooked them up and made the crucial test. I turned on the gas heater, and we laughed ourselves sick as water squirted out the many holes in the gas heater. The solution to that problem was obvious, and we soon had both water and gas available in the barn.

Peg knew how to milk a cow from her childhood summer days on her grandparents' farm in western Massachusetts. When we got the cow in the spring, I made the mistake of letting her teach me how to milk. So we shared that experience for several years until the children grew old enough to do part or all of the milking. We bought a nice Guernsey cow that Peg had scouted out before I returned from the Pacific. We named her Evelyn, after the wife of the German professor at Hofstra. I don't recall just why, but I remember them clearly. He was a self-proclaimed intellectual, though not a part of the cocktail clique. He was fairly erudite, but too talkative, and in practical matters a dope. His wife was somewhat similar. Peg and I had had a good laugh after the time they complained about sterilizing a new thermometer when their infant child had a fever. They complained to us that they started to sterilize it in boiling water, but the darned thing broke. They took it back to the drug store complaining about its poor quality and were given a replacement ---which also broke when they tried to sterilize it. When they took that one back, the druggist caught wise and suggested they use alcohol instead of breaking it in boiling water.

Soon we expanded our farm undertakings. We bought two horses, and for raising our own meat we bought two young lambs and two piglets. We had them butchered and cut up into freezer packages in the fall. No more lambs, but we continued with pigs for a few years.

Of course, Peg wanted a big garden. It was actually a huge one and provided many vegetables. We always had the agreement that I would prepare the soil and she would do the rest. She loved it and spent many hours out working in her garden - planting the rows, cultivating, weeding, harvesting. In addition to the usual vegetables she tried egg plants, cantaloups, watermelons, and other less usual plants, but because of the short growing season they produced only sparsely, so she gave them up.

At Peg's initiative, we added another rustic activity - making our own maple syrup. At the ratio of thirty gallons of sap to one gallon of maple syrup, it takes a fairly large vat and the job of boiling the sap down for hours. But we secured a large vat and we got right to work tapping trees and gathering the sap. There were maple trees on our land, but also across the dirt road alongside our property, and we tapped a number of them, first drilling the hole in the tree with a special bit, then inserting the spiles, over which we hung the bucket bails. Regular procedure -- except that one morning when we were tapping trees, a farmer neighbor came by with his horses and wagon. He stopped long enough to wave hello and drove on up the hill. We thought he had a peculiar expression on his face as he waved, and it was only minutes later that we discovered red-faced that the tree we were tapping at the time was an oak tree!

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