National Geographic : 1941 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine To us, these things seem merely common sense. How may the visitor to the Pennsylvania Iutch country know that he is with us? He must look for the red. Red barns adorn the countryside. We are fond of red cows; red apples are our apples. Redtop thrives in our meadows; we cultivate it. We built-we still build-red brick houses (page 48). Our women love red dahlias, red geraniums, and red roses. We cultivate black cherries, but we like the red ones best. Into our carpets we weave red stripes; we put red patches in our crazy quilts. Our farm machinery, our lawn furniture, the spangles on our farm harness are red. Big Farmhouses and Bigger Barns Outsiders tell us that we make shrines of the red barns. We admit it. But that we neglect our houses, we do not admit. I have threaded the highways and byways of our Pennsylvania Dutch country, yet have never found those small houses sometimes said to be typical of us. All the old farmhouses I know have from nine to nineteen rooms. Ten is the prevailing size. A few newer ones are of eight rooms. But we do pay a lot of attention to our barns. The farm life centers around the barn. In or about it every member of the family has work to do. Women work hard about the house, garden, and chicken yard; neverthe less, one or more will be on hand for milk ing. The men spend many daylight hours at the barn. Here horses and cows are stabled, wagons and other farm implements stored. The granaries are in the barn. Around the two main buildings, house and barn, the springhouse, smokehouse, chicken house, corncrib, and pigpens are small and of less importance. On Sunday afternoons the farmer's children and many of the boys and girls of the com munity gather in one barn-their playground. They slide down straw piles, romp on hay mows, play hide-and-seek in feeding entries, gambol on threshing floors, or clamber mon keylike along the purlines and rafters. Take an evening in November. The corn has been husked; oats, rye, and wheat have been threshed. The hay is in. The mows are filled. Corn fodder is in a stack near the barn. Snow is forecast. Snow, too, says the wind sweeping over the Conewago Mountains. Gone is the sun, but the western sky still bathes the landscape in a rich saffron radiance. The farmer has finished his chores. On the threshold of the barn he stands and gazes thoughtfully at the yellow light streaming from the window across the way. He knows that in the kitchen shoals of tender pork chops are swimming in an ocean of golden gravy, and corncakes are turning a luscious brown. And of course there will be baked yams, lima beans, and stewed dried corn, and slaw dressed with sweetened vinegar and spiced with sweet peppers. In a minute he will be there for supper "dinner" as the name for the evening meal has not yet invaded our region. But before he goes, he will cast one re assuring glance at the barn. Through his mind will flash a picture of the cattle, com fortable in their stone-walled quarters. Among them is a yearling steer, apparently the dar ling of the flock, so carefully is he tended. He must be fat by the Monday after Thanks giving, for then he will be slaughtered with six or seven fat hogs. All will find their way into hams, flitches, sausages, bologna, or chipped beef, not to men tion lard, "panhaas," and "lewerwarscht." And the farmer thinks of the cellar under the barn bank. It is redolent with home grown apples-Smokehouse, Rambos, Wine saps, Ben Davis, pippins, Tulpehockens (Fal lawaters). Here, too, are mangels, beets, cab bages, turnips, not to forget a "schtenner" of sauerkraut, the barrel of vinegar, another of hard cider, and many jugs of home-made wine. On shelves stand numerous jars of home canned fruits and vegetables, crocks of jellies, pickles, and preserves. We still use "receipts" for cookery. We clothe our babies in "hippens." For us the newer and awkward words, "recipe" and "dia per" are affectations. We eat our eggs with flitch, as do our friends in England. We redd off the tables, redd up the rooms, and outen the lights. No farmers, however, more quickly adopt newer ways of caring for eggs and milk, or new breeds of cattle and pigs, when proved. We avail ourselves of new methods of plant ing corn, threshing wheat, or curing tobacco. We have erected a monument to the man who developed the York Imperial apple (page 71). But we are old-fashioned in our family loyal ties, family prides, in our attitude toward our parents, toward the church, and the Sabbath. A Land of Tobacco and Cattle Tobacco and cattle are the agricultural es sence of Lancaster County. Some 95 per cent of the tobacco produced in Pennsylvania grows here, fertilized principally by manure from cattle. The crop amounts to about 40,000,000 pounds annually. On the outskirts of Lan caster City huge tobacco warehouses tower near one of the State's largest stockyards.