From simple to sensational

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farm silo

“Papa welcomed neighbors, and more distant farmers, who came to watch the silo’s progress. I had never before seen him glowing with such pride over any of the innovations he had introduced to Dunham’s Hill — the cream separator, crop rotation, the planting of legumes to restore worn-out soil, the binder…the silo was a special thing.” 

— from “Papa Was a Farmer, “Brenda “Goldie” Weisberg Meckler, circa 1912

Part Three

Read Part one: Escaping Russia, becoming American

Read Part two: From inventions on farms to tragedies

With the rebuilding of the Weisberg home after a devastating fire, a Sears Roebuck kit house went up and Goldie tells the family story of the next impressive step on their southern Ohio farm.

A silo was built, the first in the farming community. “The silo was a special thing…rising grandly amid its drab surroundings, it was indeed a work of art,” Goldie” writes in her memoir.

Making silage

The cutting of the still-green corn was something unheard of at that time. The ensilage cutter was making a debut, and many people came to watch it work.

“The stalks of tender corn were fed into the great maw of the beast, where they were cut up and blown into the silo from the top, through a large galvanized iron pipe,” she writes.

The heaviest man in the community was hired to climb the metal ladder, then was lowered to the bottom of the silo just before cutting began. It was his job to “tromp” all of that wet silage down as it was blown in, making sure it would ferment instead of mold by tromping all the air out.

When the big fellow finally emerged at the top of that filled silo, sweat-soaked and covered with ensilage, cheers broke out. As he climbed down the ladder to shouts and applause and whistles, he met with happiness his friends throwing buckets of water all over him.

Better milk

The final step, Goldie writes, “was carrying buckets of moist, rich soil up the metal ladder, spreading it across the ensilage at the top, and sowing grass seed upon it. The miniature meadow thus created was an added precaution against air getting into the ensilage.”

The cows began giving much more milk, were content and smelled of fermented beer, Goldie writes.

Father’s ill

Within the year, Goldie’s father began having more and more serious bouts of coughing, leveling him physically. A trusted doctor told the family the only thing that would save him would be a move to Arizona.

Goldie’s mother blamed herself for accidentally starting the house fire, feeling sure inhaling smoke as her husband battled to pull treasured items out of the burning house damaged his lungs.

Scholarly

Goldie, a brilliant student and valedictorian of her high school class, was offered a full scholarship to Ohio Wesleyan College, a gift unheard of at that time. To the heartbreak of her educators, she was forced to turn it down. Instead, she became a one-room schoolhouse teacher at age 17.

She easily passed the teaching certification course offered at that time, knowing she needed to help support her parents. She learned to love writing, teaching and directing plays. With the money raised by theatrical productions, Goldie bought books for her students. She was a passionate teacher who cared deeply for her students.

Hollywood

Goldie, born in Russia in 1900, raised as an American farm girl, would eventually become an impressive Hollywood screenwriter for Universal, was published in Collier’s and became one of the pioneers in writing for television.

Hers is a remarkable American life story, and it would not have been known had she not decided to write her first book at age 87.

Papa was a Farmer shares a glimpse of early agriculture through the eyes of a sweet, intelligent girl called Goldie.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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