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Georgia On My Mind, Part 6

An absolute requirement for a homestead of the early 20th century (and earlier) was a barn. It was so important that neighbors would pitch in together to raise a barn, knowing that others would help when it was their turn for a new barn. This one was surprising large with wide eaves. I presume the latter were because of the hot Georgia summers — even a slight breeze would make working a bit less-taxing endeavor.

Among other uses, the barn would provide protection from the elements for plows and other farm implements. Note that there are three tools in the foreground, each with a differently shaped blade. It makes sense — getting the crops in successfully and plowing to reduce the weeds was a matter of life and death. You had to have the right tool for the job.

Here is a typical farm wagon. It required considerable effort by the farmer to load the wagon, hitch up a team of horses or mules then navigate dirt roads to his destination. By comparison, today's farmers have it easy — just jump in the truck, turn the key in the ignition and off you go on mostly paved roads.

I love this buggy. This would be used for personal transportation such as visiting neighbors or going to church. Notice that this buggy does not have a cover — either sun or rain could make for an uncomfortable ride.

This looks like a largely, handmade machine, probably for crushing nuts or grain of some sort. Turn the crank by hand and collect the edible produce in a bucket under the chute.

Not only did farmers use horse- and mule-drawn wagons, they also used their livestock to pull sleds. Sometimes it was easier to move stuff on a sled than a wagon simply because of the lack of roads.

Here are two examples of a workbench with a foot-operated vise for gripping work as the farmer shaped, filed or bent the item. The one in the foreground is missing the foot petal (it is laying on the bench but not in place at the bottom of the vertical shaft) which was used to apply pressure.

This interesting contraption is a sorghum mill. The harvested sorghum plants were fed through the rollers as they were turned by a horse or mule walking in a circle, pushing against a pole attached to that metal shaft at the top of the mill. Raw sorghum juice would be captured in a bucket below the mill.

The next step in processing the sorghum juice was to boil off excess water in this sorghum furnace. The reduced liquid was called sorghum syrup. Sorghum syrup and hot biscuits are a traditional breakfast in the Southern United States. Sorghum syrup is also used on pancakes, cornmeal mush, grits and other hot cereals. It can be used as a cooking ingredient with a similar sweetening effect as molasses.

Another necessity of rural farms was a blacksmith shop both to make new implements but also for repairs of broken items. The forge is in the back of the shop with large bellows to blow air over the wood or coal to increase the fire's temperature. The iron or steel being formed was hammered on the anvil in the foreground and held in the vice to the right for filing.

If you were good at both woodworking and blacksmithing, you could make a wheel for your wagon or buggy. Life was challenging in those days.

Last for today is a photo of the apple house. For families in these parts, apples were a staple — eaten raw and used to make pies, apple sauce, apple butter, cider and vinegar. Storing them was critical — thus this dedicated structure.

Summer apples were stored on the upper floor, hardier winter apples were placed in ground-floor bins. Earth and thick stone walls provided insulation from heat and cold.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com