Washday

17 Feb

Over the past week my husband has been out of town videoing cattle for an upcoming sale. When he is gone, you can guess who then becomes responsible for his daily chores and other unplanned extremities. Most of the time I don’t mind it, but this past week it seemed we had too many unplanned extremities. The cows got out, it snowed for the first time, rained a bunch and then I got the feed truck stuck. Needless to say housework over the past week didn’t get done.

Dirty dishes have piled up. We live in an old farmhouse and someday we will remodel the kitchen, but until then I don’t have a dishwasher. When we were married we rented a house with no dishwasher and I swore up and down I would never live anywhere without one again. Well, four years later my tongue is in my cheek. Sometimes before we head to bed I ask my husband if he thinks the Dishwasher Fairy will come during the night. So far, it hasn’t shown up.

An even bigger pile that has grown is the laundry. And it doubled when my husband got home. During a typical week I do a load here and there and it doesn’t pile up. Laundry is easy. All I have to do is sort, load the washing machine, load the dryer and then fold and put away. Compared to washing dishes, laundry is cake. But washers and dryers haven’t always been around. I recently found where my great grandma had written about washday in the hills while she was growing up. She was born in 1911 and this past November the easy math tells you she would be 100 years old. She lived a full 94 years and survived without all the modern conveniences of today. I hate that I complain about washing dishes when I read what she went through to simply get clean clothes.

Remember it is unedited and depicts her original work.

Preparation for washday begin the day before when we was at the house and not at the river.  The old black kettle was carried to the wood pile we would gather old boards and dry tree links for the fire, most of the time we had rain water from the rain barrel, every family had one a wide board stuck in it so it would catch more water, we always had our’s on the north side of the house.  By day light the fire was lit, as we always filled it with rain water the night before.  After breakfast we carried out two kitchen chairs or the bench to sit out galvanized tubs on.  Some had wooden tubs but we never had one.  Two tubs one to wash in and one to rince in with them blue balls tied in a cloth, in cold weather you washed in the kitchen then we had a long kettle that would set on the kitchen stove, where you took the caps off the stove and put you kettle down close to the fire.  The rain barrel was stored for the winter, so we carried our wash water from a spring.  I have saw my mother hands bleed from sing lye soap and washing on the old was board.  It was a long hard day, washday was.  But on a sunny warm day clothes drying in the sun on a cloth line back of the house gave you a good feeling as you rested on the old front porch looking out over a peaceful world in our hill’s.

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