Nothing says teamwork more clearly than the way she runs together what got done that day, almost eighty years ago in an trying environment sweet as cub one day, a she bear the next. Listen.
April 23 1/4" of rain all told frost and ice this morning sunshine and cloudy during the day up to 64 a breeze from many ways Dryed the clothes Ironed sewed work on garden fence and started to plow it called on the corn shellers to shell Thursday.If you didn't know better, you might think "the missus" did all of that herself, that she was, for some reason, alone on the farm, responsible for inside as well as outside work. I hope that's not true. I hope the two of them--husband and wife--set their backs to the grindstone together and set out to do what had to be done.
May 6 We washed and got the clothes dry the same day. cleaned the brooder house planted in the garden. Most cloudy with a south by a little east wind up to 68.
May 8 Took the heating stove down put the cattle in the pasture, disced for corn washed the windows and put on the screens mended. Clear all day up to 76 light breeze from the north that ran the pump by spirts.
May 13 Cloudy this morning with a light south breeze went NW before noon and got into Hi dust along with it and some rain we wash but the wind blew so only a few got dry disced afternoon up to 82.She could have read her own diary entries easily, but making it through an entry requires some translation skills from you and me. What requires no interpretation is the endless necessity of hard work. She lives where she does--they live where they do--because of the Dawes Act (1887) which opened previously ceded Indian land to white homesteaders once every tribal member got his or her 160 acres.
Some white folks believed the Dawes Act was the solution to "the Indian problem." Others, politicians and real estate chiselers, had their own designs. After all, there was money to be made by way of farming families moving on to reservation land, families like the one who's life is characterized in the diaries of a strong woman. And there was money to be made--not gadzillions, but good money.
May 20 Washed, cleaned upstairs, disced finished on Roberts land when to John's and finished drilling his pasture. Partly cloudy all day with a strong north wind that moved thistles & dust. Cool all day.Soon it wouldn't be.
July 17 108 [large print] hot south and west wind a few clouds around the edge. Started to bind wheat short straw hard to make a bundle good sized kernels. 4H here today. Got the wheel on the mill by sunup and boy the nice cold stream.
July 22 Washed, ran water in garden slid corn forenoon, cut wheat afternoon. Hot and dusty from the south up to 110 hard on the corn.
July 23 Hot 116 with hot south wind finished cutting wheat shocked one piece slid corn afternoon baked bread ironed, sewed and ran water in garden.
July 26 Had about 1/8" of rain during the night cool all day with light east breeze up to 86. Cut oats, cut hair washed good dresses and ironed them.That there is nothing in the diary entries more than a daily work regimen does not suggest she and her husband were unaware of the world around them. What it makes clear is that in order to make it on the dry plains of South Dakota, they couldn't rest. Out on the Rosebud reservation, their place in life was isolated and trying, the environment unforgiving, scorching heat and three-day blizzards on unsympathetic land that could bankrupt you a half hour of hot July wind.
July 30 Hot and windy from south changing to north with a dust storm no rain finished throwing in at home, baked bread, sewed & ironed. . .
Rain is underlined, one of the few moments in her diary entries when she shows any emotion. And then
. . .took in the show etc at Crookston tonight up to 100.
She doesn't mention what show, whether it was a movie or some traveling entertainer; but it got her out. Even though she doesn't celebrate that bit of entertainment herself, today you can't help but be happy for her, a break--at least a break.
July 31 Sewed, helped Pet Vis with his tractor. Hot and partly cloudy up to 106 had a nice shower before sundown and is still cloudy hope we get more.
The country had been in an economic depression for seven years, seven lean years. In 18 months we'd be at war, as would they.
Her daily reports of life on the farm hold little more than a endless sage of hard, hard work. But there are no regrets. That's something, isn't it? There simply are no regrets.