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The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 5, Crops, Garden and Livestock took full King family efforts
Cuffy and Max pulled the plow and harrow
Karl got the ground ready for crops and the garden on their new farm
Using the plow Owen had brought, Karl King harnessed up Cuffy, the mule, and first plowed the garden plot. He and Keith had already cleaned the brush and undergrowth away from the plot that had obviously been the garden plot on the previous Hamby place. They had also salvaged a few volunteer plants they had recognized, and placed them aside to replant later. Karl then proceeded to the first ten-acre plot nearest the house on this, the north side of the creek, to begin plowing it. They had also cleared it of large undergrowth earlier.
Keith harnessed the other mule, Max, to the harrow that Owen had repaired for them and used it to break up the plowed ground surface. He made three passes so as to break up the clods and provide a relatively smooth surface for Katherine and the younger children to use to plant rows of seeds and starts they had already prepared. Following his work on the garden, Keith likewise followed Karl to the field and began to harrow where it had been plowed, as well. This was a two pass process. This particular field would be planted to corn, the primary crop for the farm.
When he had caught up to where Karl was plowing, Keith took a break from harrowing and went back to the garden, giving the mule a rest and water break. Keith's next job was to close up the opening in the fence around the garden that had been used to get the mules and their implements in and out. Without the fence, wildlife would have eaten everything planted in the garden by the next morning. A wire gate allowed the family to move in and out easily.
The first novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of historical fiction
Woven wire fencing was very useful
Each family member had responsibility for some of the farm animals
Kate, along with her mother, Katherine, was responsible for milking the cow each day and being sure she was properly fed and cared for. The milk was stored in the Spring House each day, kept cool by the cold creek water flowing through the storage area. The family was very pleased that it was in usable shape, with only minor repairs, when they arrived. Kent looked after the pregnant pig sow, each day, feeding her morning and evening and checking to be sure the fence they had built for her continued to be secure, and that she was safe.
Under Katherine's supervision, young Karla, even at 5 years old, felt a sense of responsibility as she gathered the eggs and fed the chickens each morning. They had not yet added any chicks to the coop of chickens they had brought with them. Twelve were layers, and they consistently got 9 to twelve eggs each day from them, which barely met their own eating needs. They only had about a half dozen of eating chickens left, and would need to get some more, now that they were getting settled in to their new place.
Keith had been taking the lead in caring for the mules, Cuffy and Max, under his father's general supervision. Keith needed little supervision, but appreciated learning new techniques from his father, as issues arose. Karl, of course, took primary responsibility for the two Morgan mares, Dolly and Molly. Although Katherine was a good horsewoman, she left their care to her husband. Now that they were getting settled, they wanted to get Molly bred, first, to get a new colt by the next spring. July to September was breeding season, and Karl had already talked to Levi Weston about using his stallion, and he had agreed. They really weren't ready to breed both mares at the same time, so they would take it easy, right now. Perhaps an opportunity would arise to purchase an already bred mare, later on.
Kent looked after the pig
Karl crossed the creek to explore his other fields, and the forest land, at closer range
When Karl had finished his work plowing the first field for the day, he decided to take some time to cross the creek and examine the next field he wanted to work, before it was actually time to do so. There was a convenient ford of the creek near the point where the first field began. Sand bars in the meandering creek allowed a careful person to walk across without much difficulty. Once across, Karl quickly identified the next three ten-acre plots he wanted to plow, one to the left, across the creek from the first one, one just to the right, and one further to the right, back up the creek toward the Patton Road west of their homesite. The far end of that third field was actually just about across the creek from the Thurkill Dent homestead.
Currently, the Patton Road essentially started at the Dent homestead, which had previously, before the war, been the Craddock place. They did not return after the war, but their daughter, Neva, had returned along with her new husband, Thurkill, and baby boy, Donald (now seven years old). Karl knew this much about his neighbors from having talked with Gideon Inman. But, that was really all he knew about them. He really should go talk to them, he thought. Then, he kind of wondered why they had not yet come down the road to greet them. The Dent family had not been at the "Fourth Sunday" gathering, and no other opportunity had arisen.
Being on the half-mile, and because of the way this branch of Center Creek ran, Gideon had suggested it was unlikely the Patton Road would extend further west anytime soon. The road back to the east into town would likely continue to be improved, but not to the west.
Ozark mountain forested hillside
Was there a new neighbor to the south?
Karl stood there, not far from the south bank of the creek, looking east and west to see his nearby farm land. He next looked up the slope to the south that was mostly forested and appeared to be mostly limestone rock. Then he saw something unexpected. There was a small pillar of smoke that seemed to clearly indicate a campfire or something similar. He was not aware of anyone using that land. It did appear to be beyond his property line, which he had explored, but not too far beyond. He decided he should check it out.
Karl approached what had become obvious was a campfire very carefully. It was located in what turned out to be the edge of a fairly broad, grassy clearing, relatively flat, in the forest that he was not aware was there. When he got close enough to where he could see people near the campfire and a nearby tent, he called out to announce his approach, with both hands held high and clearly with open palms to the campfire, "Hello, the camp. This is Karl King, the farmer down by the creek!" He could tell he had startled the man by the fire, but his message got through in an instant, and the man waved him in, "Come on in. Welcome!"
Relieved, Karl could see there was a man, a woman, and two children, a boy and a girl. The children were very near the ages of this two youngest. "Darrell Yokum," the man said as Karl approached, and extended his hand. Karl shook it, reiterating, "Karl King." Darrell introduced his wife, Fanny, and son, Darrell, Junior (called Junior, Darrell said) and daughter, Missy. It didn't take long for Karl to learn that they were, indeed, new neighbors. Darrell said they had bought the eighty acres running east and west immediately south of the King place. He said they had just arrived, earlier in the day. As they talked a little more, Karl learned that they had located a small spring, just uphill southeast of their campsite, which would supply them with water - that had been Karl's first concern when he heard they planned to live there.
Darrell made it clear that they were "hill folks" - had come from the hills down around Eminence, where they had grown weary of some of their extended family, and wanted to get a clean start. They heard that Oak Creek Township was seeking new residents, and decided to come up. It wasn't really that long a trip. Their only real interest was keeping to themselves, raising what they needed, and not bothering anyone. Karl listened intently, with great interest, and only spoke a little, himself, except to share who they were and that the King family were recent arrivals as well. Karl invited them to come down to Sunday dinner, weather permitting, if they were available and willing, and they could talk more at that time. Darrell looked at Fanny, she nodded assent, and he accepted the invitation. Shortly, Karl headed back down the slope to home, as the sun approached the western horizon.
The latest novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series
Introductory note from the author
This is the fifth episode of a short story series set in the Ozarks Mountain setting of “The Homeplace Saga” family saga of historical fiction. This story begins in 1876, following the time period (1833-1875) of the forthcoming “Founding of the Homeplace” collection of short stories. Some of these earlier stories are published on The Homeplace Saga blog, found at the link, below.
“The Homeplace Saga” is the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”
Learn more about "The Homeplace Saga"
- "The Homeplace Saga" Blog
The home blog for "The Homeplace Saga" series of historical fiction family saga stories set in the southern Missouri Ozarks. All updates of the series are mentioned here, regardless of platform. Watch of the release of the forthcoming collection.