Unexpected things do happen on farms. It was wintertime and very cold. There was a lot of snow with a frozen crust. All livestock were given protection as much as possible. The cattle were bedded in the long cattle shed, which was open on the south side. Any sort of windbreak was a big help against a howling north wind in Kansas. The six pig shoats that ran in the feedlot with the cattle found a place in the end of the shed. When fodder corn was fed, cattle often knock off ears and some cattlemen let a few pigs run with the cattle to get those ears. Tanks froze so that ice had to be cut to let the livestock drink. This was long before the time of oil or electric heaters on tanks to keep a constant supply of drinking water.
Milking by hand was a morning and evening chore. One morning Old Bess, as we called the big roan cow, had no milk. That was strange because she always gave most of a pail. At evening time she gave the usual amount or a little more. And so it went for a week or more, with no milk in the morning. What was the reason? Surely it couldn't be the cold winter weather. One night Dad was up a couple of times to check something at the barn. As he passed the cattle shed, he heard a sucking noise. He turned his lantern toward the noise. What do you suppose he saw? There sat a red and-white spotted shoat pig sucking Bess. He sat like a dog and was surely enjoying a warm meal.
As you can guess, Dad put that rascal of a pig in a pen away from the cattle, and Bess gave her usual bucket of milk each morning.
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.