Little Granny’s House

My "little" Granny:  Eliza Wright

My “little” Granny:
Eliza Wright

I grew up in a town so small it didn’t qualify to have a traffic light, yet my rural relatives teased that I was a “city girl.” I treasure the memories when I got to spend a week at my “Little” Granny’s house in rural Pike County.

I had two Grannies and since I didn’t call them by their first names, I had to have some way to distinguish between the two. My “little” Granny (Eliza) was petite while my “big” Granny (Martha) was taller and heavier. In the coming years, my “little” Granny gained weight and eventually was bigger than my “big” Granny, yet I continued to refer to her my “little” Granny.  [This is Part One of Three]

My Grandpa “Big Andy” Wright (a direct descendent of “Devil John” Wright) passed away when I was only 8, leaving behind 11 children. There were 5 sons and 6 daughters, my mother the oldest.   Of these children, 1 son and 4 daughters remained in close proximity to their Pike County roots for the season of my early childhood. The others were called away by World War II and later to seek their fortunes in the auto industry. The 2 daughters who left followed their husbands to urban areas.  (This story shares my childhood memories of “little” Granny’s house.)

The Farmhouse

During summer break from school, I got to spend a week with Granny Eliza. Her house was far up Beefhide Creek road in Lionelli, KY. Beefhide Creek was a long gravel road that extended for miles. As I neared Granny’s house in our ’57 Ford, we passed an enormous barn and then the huge, solid white farmhouse came into view. It had wrap around porches that extended across the front, right side and a short distance around the left side. The property was surrounded by a rough-hewn wooden slat fence and gate, all made by my Grandpa. There were wooden screen doors and a tin roof. Nobody had concrete sidewalks. Wooden boardwalks went around much of the house.

The Hand Dug Well

Out back was a hand dug well and a well house. The first “chore” I always begged to do upon arrival was drawing water from the well using a galvanized steel bucket with chains and a pulley. I carried the fresh water to Granny’s kitchen where a small table and common dipper awaited. We all drank from a common water bucket, using a common dipper and nobody thought anything about catching the other’s germs. We were all family and that’s what families did when I was a child.

Common water pail and dipper

Common water pail and dipper

The Well House

A well house just beyond the hand dug well housed a drilled well with a pump. Rows of shelves held Mason jars of food Granny had canned. The well house was also a cool storage place for her potatoes.

The Hen House

White leghorn chicken

White leghorn chicken

Dominique chicken

Dominique chicken

Another fun chore I always begged to do was gather the eggs from the hen house. The lot was filled with red and white leghorn and black and white Dominique hens (and of course a crowing rooster or two to make sure the hens stayed busy). It didn’t take me long to learn to watch my steps after I entered the front gate! Once inside the hen house, there were rows of straw nests all around the wall, some with more than one egg. It was like opening a treasure chest to the “city girl” as I carefully gathered them and placed them in the metal pail Granny had given me.

Now I know what the expression "madder than a sitting hen" means!

Now I know what the expression “madder than a sitting hen” means!

I eyed one particular large red hen contemptuously. Unlike the others who were off their nests and wandering inside the lot, pecking at whatever bug or cracked corn they could find, she remained on her nest, stubbornly refusing to move. I could see several eggs beneath her so I tried to “encourage” her to move by gently poking her with a small stick.   I didn’t understand, nor was I prepared for the objection she gave. I don’t know which scared we the worst, her squawking, trying to peck me, or flapping her wings as she nearly flogged me.   My heart pounding from fear, I raced from the hen house grateful for the eggs I had already gathered.

When I reported back to Granny what the hen had done, she started to laugh. This was a teachable moment for me and she took time to explain “sitting hens.” As she sorted through my eggs, she laughed again. Among my pail of eggs were a number of “hen foolers” used to encourage the hens to start sitting on their eggs to hatch out baby chicks. She said “These must be little girl foolers too!”

(To Be Continued with Part 2)

Pam Baker, RN

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