It only occurred to me that I grew up on a small farmstead when I was in my sixties. My father was a dentist and entrepreneur who acquired about forty acres near the town’s southern limit. When the city extended the limit a mile farther south, housing developments sprouted around the farm. Still, Dad kept the land intact with fields, woods, and a creek for over thirty years before rising land prices tempted him to develop some of it.
A few outbuildings dotted the land. Our pre-Great-War two-story house was near the main road, a bricked section of a historic military highway. This nineteenth-century road connected two frontier forts. A bridge spanned the creek a few meters south of a corner of Dad’s land. The bridge crossed the water five miles south of the parade ground flagpole. Thus, the name of the stream was Five Mile Creek. Flanking our home was a tool shed and a clay-construction-block structure we called the Milk House. An old green tarpaper barn stood on a knoll above the floodplain, halfway between the farmhouse and the creek. A few abandoned nineteenth-century structures also stood across the stream to the east. These forsaken buildings will be the subject of a future post. Some of my most vivid childhood memories on the farm concerned the Milk House.
I never remember my family storing milk in the Milk House. Since the farm was independent for almost a century, I assume some ancient farmer milked a small dairy herd in the barn and moved the cans to the cool clay block milk storage house. Then he or some other previous owner repurposed the latter structure. I do not remember the presence of any dairy accouterments, such as a separator, so I cannot speculate whether it was more than a temporary holding place.
A vast wood stove that the Great Western Manufacturing Company fabricated early in the twentieth century dominated the interior of the house. I was a bit afraid of this monster that had never burned a stick of wood in my lifetime. Its retirement allowed it to host birds, bats, mice, and wasps in its belly and chimney, giving a fine reason for my desire to avoid it.
[Next post: Surprising secrets of the Milk House.]