May 1934

Below is more from Philip Tiemann’s manuscript. In case you’ve forgotten, the Tiemanns’ arrived in Cavendish in 1933. They came from New Jersey during the Depression with little money and no knowledge of country life. They rapidly learned how to survive in their new home. The story below takes place in May of 1934.

“The weather changed (they say in Vermont, “if you don’t like it, just wait ten minutes.) May was on the dry side so the roads could be worked on by the town crew which used a scraper to fill in and level the ruts. The worst spots were spread with what they termed “gravel” but looked like sand to us. In any event it helped the drying process and soon mud season was a memory.

“The children went back to school and one afternoon came in with clumps of lovely arbutus (“May Flower”), the first they had ever seen. It grew beside our own roadside, and later we discovered other small patches, some of which still exist. – Next we noticed yellow violets (the blue ones came later) and the roadsides and woods were soon gay with a variety of tiny blossoms. These were followed by the flowering bushes and small trees, when the shad and wild cherry blossoms were like white smoke against the hillsides, and their fragrance filled the air.

Philip and Isabel Tiemann, 1954, in their Windy Hill farmhouse. Photo provided.

“As a break for Isabel after the long winter, I took her to a Ladies’ Meeting, – this was the Home Demonstration Club, a state-wide rural organization with professional leaders who introduced new ideas and improved methods to local groups, who held monthly meetings at each others’ homes. – Then I went home and began “picking stone,” a never-ending chore on our Vermont land where it had been recently plowed. It was good to be able to get into the fields again. Now I was up before five, did chores, had breakfast at 6:45, and was at the day’s work by eight. During the month of May the major planting must be done, else it is too late for the crops to mature. I had great plans some of which materialized. First of all came the plowing but when I tried my hand at it I found it harder than it looked and made poor progress. I was fortunate to have enough hay left to exchange for getting a good-sized piece of hay-land turned over. The harrowing (to break up the sods and leave the bed relatively smooth) I could do myself.

“By the 15th I was ready to sow oats, and did an acre, – Isabel helping. We tried broadcasting seed by hand but results were uneven. Then I was pleased to discover hanging in the barn a contraption which did the job much more efficiently: this was a bag-like affair with a whirligig below. The canvas bag hung against the chest by a strap around the neck and held a quantity of seed. There was an adjustable aperture in the bottom and when you walked along a row turning the crank the whirligig distributed the seed in a fixed pattern and quantity. So we used this to finish the oats, and then for an additional half-acre of barley…..”

Then the Tiemanns’ planted soy, field corn, and their vegetable garden.

“…..The baby chicks came, and we all got quite a kick out of the funny little balls of yellow fluff. I built a pen where they could be warm and safe, – yes, in the summer kitchen, where we had again moved. There they grew and throve and were very much in the way. Then, to the delight of the kids, the long summer vacation began.

“The children probably felt they were worked awfully hard at home, but generally were good about it. And we did have some nice times together.

“‘How would you like a picnic?’ we asked Joyce on her birthday. There could only be one answer to that, so we made great preparations and carried baskets of food across Second Brook to one of the delightful spots on its banks. Here, at a wide pool, it was decided to have a “swimmin’ hole. So, after we (and the ants) had enjoyed lunch, the kids got busy carrying stones and building a dam. The water didn’t get very deep but they seemed to have fun.

“After a while they got tired of this and went off up Strawberry Hill to do some picking. Isabel and I assembled the picnic gear and returned to the house…..”


This week’s old saying. “An expert is someone who lives more than 35 miles away.”

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