Pioneer Potluck: About growing up on the farm

1937 to 1955


Northern Colorado


If you turned off Highway 14 going east out of Fort Collins, at Cactus Hill Observatory Grade School District 101 and went two miles north on a dusty dirt-gravel road, you were at John and Loretta McClure’s Shamrock Shorthorn Ranch.

After the remodel of the house, the planting of grass in the front yard to replace the dirt we used to play in, Dad put a swing in the Boxelder tree for us to swing on. I loved pushing my sisters on that swing — and my little brother Jim. If I pushed Elaine long enough in the swing she would go to sleep. Dad also purchased a hammock (which none of us kids mastered). Dad would carefully crawl in the hammock and rest after dinner (lunch) under the cotton wood tree that provided lots of shade from the hot Colorado summer sun.

After his rest he would pull his irrigation boots back on, get in his old International pickup and go back out to the corn, sugar beets and hay fields. He “walked” the rows to see if all his little ditches were full of precious irrigation water that soaked into the thirsty ground. The crops would grow and produce his fall crops of hay bales, corn silage and the sugar beets that put him in the Top Ten Sugar Beet production for northern Colorado. We knew how tired he was as he got up at 3:30 every morning to go out and “check the water” just in case some of the water was running some where else and wasting some of the water that his crops so relied on.

Mom always had a nice dinner (what we call lunch now) on the table right at noon, mashed potatoes, fried beef, gravy, vegetables and always a dessert of some kind. He would go rest in his hammock and I would help Mom wash the dishes in the new sink that had running hot and cold water. It was carefully guarded and we did not waste “a drop.” Water was something that we were always conscious of and if we wasted “a drop” we were duly scolded.

In the early days before the remolding of the house, we had an iceman that came around and Mom would purchase ice from him for the “ice box.” Us kids would line up so we could get some of the slivers of ice he had after chipping off a square of ice for Mom. We loved the ice man! Sure is funny how the iceman and the water wagon disappeared into the forever memories of a few of us.

The milk man was another person that disappeared after big milk trucks came along and sucked up the milk into the big tanks. The milk can became a flower pot decoration in the yard. The ice box got hauled off to the dump and the big old black cook stove was gone and replaced by Mom’s big white electric stove that said “ELECTRIC” on it. I still do not know what happened to that big old cook stove! How I would love to have it now, decorating some corner of my house, of course! Although I do cook on our wood heating stove, it does not hold a candle to the wonderful loaves of bread, cakes, cookies and beef roasts that came out of that old stove. Or the Sunday fried chicken and mashed potatoes and milk gravy it produced on top of the stove. Or the heat that it provided us kids as we got dressed in front of it in the winter.

Mom’s flowers were gifted with the irrigation water also — she honestly looked forward to the days Dad would “let” the water down the ditch beside our yard so she could either go bare foot or in her little Woolworth canvas to take care of her flowers. They also planted a garden but I do not remember too much about it — other than Mom said it was too much work for the amount of vegetables and tomatoes she got. So it was a short two or three year adventure. They planted apple and cherry trees in the garden area “out beyond the clothes line.”

Mom picked cosmos and snap dragons and what ever flower she could spare for the kitchen table or the dining room table. She always took time to arrange them in beautiful bouquets and stand back and admire her handy work. I never got the hang of flower arrangements, much to the disgust of Bernie, Susan and a few of my other friends. I trim the stems, put them in water, tell them they are pretty and it’s all done in a matter of seconds. My Mom and Bernie and Susan will take time to arrange them in a beautiful vase that transformed those flowers into a burst colors.

This summer I am looking forward to all the beautiful flowers that Susan planted for me last summer in my country garden beside the sewing room. I will pick some and I will take the time to arrange them in a beautiful vase that Ginger or Susan gave me. Because I have waiting so long for the spring and summer!


A small house will hold as much happiness and a big house.

Yes, to become simple and live simply, not only within yourself but also in your everyday dealings. Don’t make ripples around you, don’t try so hard to be interesting and do everything. Keep your distance, be honest, fight the desire to be thought so fascinating by your friends and the outside world.

— Ella Hillsum


“If you had everything —where would you put it??”

— Ann Landers


Please pray for the less fortunate, the ill and the sad. Most of all never forget that we have more than most, especially those who are fighting diseases. They need all the prayers we can offer. Thank you for yours! And never forget to Thank God for this day and all that he has done.


I have several chicken pot pie recipes, this is the easiest.

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 can chicken broth or milk

1 cup cooked diced chicken

1 small pkg of mixed vegetables

Pre heat oven to 400%. Mix soup, broth, chicken and vegetables in a bowl

In a smaller bowl, mix:

1 cup Bisquick ( I use the reduced fat one)

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

Stir until just moist. Place chicken vegetable mixture in a 9 inch glass pie pan (Yes foil pans will work) and spoon the Bisquick over top. Sprinkle with small amount of salt and pepper. Bake about 30 to 40 minutes. I usually take another can of cream chicken soup and make a gravy of 1 can and add 1/2 can milk. Heat in sauce pan on top of stove just before you serve.



In a 9 X 13 glass dish, melt two tablespoons of butter. Add cut rhubarb-enough to fill dish half full

Sprinkle with the following:

1 cup brown sugar - sweetness depends on how sweet or tart you like you rhubarb

1/2 cup broken walnut pieces

1 small box of raspberry Jell-o ( I, most times, leave this out-optional)

Add 1 can 16oz well drained crushed pineapple on top. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with 1/2 box dry white cake mix. Bake at 350% for 45 minutes to one hour. Let set one hour and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Better yet, double this and make two 9 x 13 foil pans and freeze one. That way you will not have a1/2 box of white cake mix left. And you will have an all ready dessert made for the summer company.


From the Cappers Farmer Newspaper 1958

4 pounds of carrots

1 tsp salt

2 qts water

1 1/2 c vinegar (apple cider)

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp whole cloves

1 medium lemon, thinly sliced

1/2 onion sliced thinly

Wash and scrape (peel) large carrots or use the new tiny carrots. Place in large kettle with 2 qts of water. Cover and cook until just tender - do not over cook. Drain and pack carrots, lemon and onion sliced tightly in hot sterilized jars.

Combine remaining ingredients. Boil 5 minutes. Pour over carrots with in 1/8 inch of top of jars. Seal. Makes 4 pints. Make sure if they seal. OR the newer way of doing this hot water bath for 10 minutes.


From the recipe box of Susan Jordan, located in the cookbook Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ at the Homestead

1 6oz pkg Uncle Ben’s quick cooking long grain and wild rice, with seasonings

1 1/2 cup water

1 10 oz can of reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup

1 8 oz can of sliced water chestnuts, drained

3/4 cup frozen peas

1 carrot shredded

3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise.

1/8 tsp paprika

1/8 tsp black pepper

Place uncooked rice and half the seasoning pkg in a 3 quart 11 x 9 baking dish.

Stir in water, soup, water chestnuts, peas, carrots. Arrange chicken of top of rice. Sprinkle with paprika and pepper. cover with foil and bake 350% for 50 to 60 minutes. - until rice is done and chicken is tender. Serve with a big green salad.


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