The Ladies Page


| March/April 1969



Titan tractor

Courtesy of L.B. Ebersol, Route 1, Pennsylvania 17540

L.B. Ebersol

Forest Grove Trailer Park Ontario, N. Y. 14519

Most of the boys and girls of today have never had the chore of filling the wood box. It always seemed an endless task; every morning and night it had to be done. We were lucky--in our family, splitting the wood was a man's job, so I never had to do that.

Every winter, my Dad and the hired man would go to the woods, between morning and night chores, and fell the trees for the next years wood supply. In those days there were no power saws, so they used the crosscut saw and an axe. The axe was used to make a deep gash on the side of the tree in the direction it was supposed to fall. Then it was sawed almost through from the other side. Usually it fell where it was supposed to. Once in a while it lodged in another tree and then it was a highly dangerous job to get it down. Many people have been seriously hurt with a tree falling on them. The trees were then trimmed of the small branches and limbs. It was then cut into managable lengths. When enough trees were cut, a few days were spent with a team of horses skidding them out of the woods and piling them. Later on, the buzz saw, powered with a gasoline engine or a tractor, was used to cut the logs and branches into suitable length for the stoves.

Then came the chore of loading the chunks into the wagon and filling the woodshed. This is where my sister and I were recruited to help. This was done in the summer, when the woodshed was empty after a cold winter. We had the job of piling the wood in the woodshed, making neat rows up to the roof. My Dad was never satisfied until it was full. The split wood was put on one side for the kitchen stove and the chunks for the living room stove were put on the other side. Then he was satisfied that the wood for the coming winter was under cover-- none of this cutting wood and burning it green.

We never made maple syrup at home. I had an uncle who made it a few years and it was a big treat to go visiting there and watch them. As soon as it warmed up a bit in the spring, with sunny days and freezing nights, we knew the sap was running in the hard maples.

Maple products, along with honey, are the oldest known sweets in the north. The Indians showed the white settlers how to make a deep gash in the bark and catch the running sap in a bowl or gourd. They would evaporate the sap by dropping hot stones into it or by boiling it. This was very wasteful, but at that time there were many maples, so it didn't matter.