A STORY OF PILGRIMS 14


For a few years these three adults and four small children knew the true meaning of togetherness while living in their two-room cabin at the edge of the meadow. Then, in 1908, Margaret Blackall homesteaded 160 acres adjoining Leonard’s land on the east. Leonard built for her a substantial cabin in the northwest corner of her homestead and she lived there until her death in 1912. She had willed the land to him so it became part of his ranch, making a total of 320 acres.
The machine age came a little late to this last frontier of America but odds and ends of machinery were showing up by this time. Leonard took advantage of opportunities to buy used machines. His first purchases were a horse-drawn mowing machine and a dump rake. This eliminated the back breaking chore of cutting hay with a scythe and bunching it with a pitchfork but it still had to be pitched by hand onto a wagon, hauled to the barn or stack, and stacked by hand. After a few years of this, a boompole stacker was put to use. This was a long log that pivoted on top of a pyramid frame so that one end rested on the ground and the other end slanted up into the air. A rope and sling was lowered from the high end to raise loads of hay from the wagon and onto the stack. When this old stacker was retired from use, it sat for many years behind the house where its long snout could be seen above the roof, pointing to the clouds overhead. Lightning bolts and decay eventually brought it down. The boompole was replaced by an overshot stacker that was bought from Ted Stevens, their neighbor to the west.

Boompole Stacker

Stacking hay with a boompole  stacker. Leonard Fuller on the stack, Frank Fuller on the bullrake  with Ned and Lizzie tending the stacker.

There was some native grass hay growing along the creek bottom of the ranch but that was not nearly enough for wintering the livestock, so Leonard enlisted the help of Alonzo Hanson to plow what has since been the main meadow. The two of them plowed what lies between the creek and the ditch on the north side of the creek. This was all done with horses and walking plows. Waling plows are not plows that walk; they are called walking plows because someone has to walk behind them, holding onto a pair of handles to keep the plow upright and at the proper depth. At the same time, he must keep the team of horses going straight and steady. All of this effort makes one furrow. The sulky plow was a considerable improvement. The part of a plow that penetrated the soil and did the plowing was called a bottom and sulky plows usually had more than one bottom mounted on a frame with wheels and a place for the plowman to sit.
By plowing and shoveling, a ditch was put above this plowed field to bring water from the creek for irrigating the field. The ditch and field are still in use, producing hay for livestock.
At a later date approximately two miles of ditch was built in the same manner to bring water to the Blackall homestead.

L.G. and; Lem Fuller

 

Building ditch to Blackall homestead
 

It was probably in 1914 that Mrs. Blackall’s cabin was dismantled and and the materials hauled by team and wagon  to the Fuller home a half mile away. There it was reconstructed, setting at right angles to the existing cabin, with its northwest corner joining the southeast corner of the other cabin so that they took the shape of a broken ell. Some of the neighbors who helped with this project were Joe Sylvester, Alonzo Hanson, Ted Stevens, Walter Buckingham and Phil Chase. It was about this time that man by the name  of Gilbert and his son, Floyd, made a bargain with Leonard to farm the Blackall homestead and give him a third of the grain as rent on the land. Leonard needed a place to store the grain so he got some more logs and enclosed the northeast corner of the house that had been left open when the two cabins were joined at their corners. The room thus formed was to serve as a granary temporarily. However, the next few years turned out very dry and the Gilberts  never did get a crop. The room became the family living room without ever holding a kernel of grain. And so, the Fuller home went from two rooms to five rather quickly.

 

Excerpted from WOOL TROMPERS by J. L. Fuller

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About authorjim

I grew up in the country near a small Montana town, I have spent a lot of time in the outdoors, working, fishing, hunting and camping but have always been interested in mechanical and electrical things. Most of my life has been spent in the use, care and repair of things mechanical, electrical an electronic. After being retired for several years, I began writing and published my first novel at the age of 79. Now, at the age of 82, I have recently published my fourth noveland it is available from me or from the pulisher or book distributor.
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