Kalona Cooks: And the walls came tumbling down

Posted 8/19/99

A little piece of history came tumbling down last week.

Several of the farm buildings on …

By Mary Marek

A little piece of history came tumbling down last week.

Several of the farm …

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Kalona Cooks: And the walls came tumbling down


A little piece of history came tumbling down last week.

Several of the farm buildings on …

By Mary Marek

A little piece of history came tumbling down last week.

Several of the farm buildings on my dad’s farmstead, now owned by my sister Pat, were bulldozed down, burned and buried.

As so often happens once a building is no longer used on a regular basis, these had deteriorated past the point of no return. Our cousin, Mike Zahs, had torn down the barn several years ago, salvaging what lumber he could. Mike had also removed most of what was once Grandpa Zahs’ woodworking shed. Both of those buildings had been built in the very early 1900s.

The corn crib, built in 1915, was damaged by last June’s wind storm. Every time the wind has blown since then, we’ve all expected it to end up lying on the road.

The chicken house, built in 1954, and the brooder house had each developed pretty bad cases of roof cancer and were in pretty bad shape every place else, too.

So, last Monday, Eldon Gingerich sent Jim Thomann and his bulldozer over and the buildings disappeared. When he was finished, not a trace of them remained.

At one point, even the bulldozer disappeared. Mr. Thomann dug a little deeper than he planned and got bogged down in some pretty wet red clay. Eldon had to bring his backhoe over and winch Jim and the bulldozer out.

When Pat first talked about having the buildings ‘dozed down, I thought it was a good idea. They were all beyond use and beyond repair. But I have to admit that when I saw that bulldozer take the first bite out of the corncrib, I felt a few tears trying to get out. Those old buildings held a lot of memories.

I carried a lot of corn out of that corncrib to feed the sows. I was always afraid one of them would step on my foot as they crowded around to get their supper. It amazed me to watch Dad feed them. He’d just walk along, dumping corn as he went, totally oblivious to the giant pigs pushing and shoving to get their share. I was never that brave. I’d yell to try to scare the sows away from me. Sometimes, I’d throw a few ears of corn to one side as a diversion. When the sows went after it, I’d run in the other direction, scattering corn far and wide in my attempt to empty the bushel basket before the sows realized I was there.

I fed a lot of calves and milked a few cows in that barn. I also stacked a lot of hay in the hayloft. I’ve told you how much fun that was. Not! But, as long as I wasn’t in the mow, I kinda liked being in the barn. I loved the smell in there – a mixture of fresh milk and hay. I suppose there was a certain amount of cow manure in there that might not have smelled so good, but my memory has blanked that odor out.

The milking parlor was in the south half of the barn. Dad would walk down the alley in the center of the barn, doling out hay and feed to the cows before he milked them. While they were all contentedly chewing their cud, he’d pull up his milking stool and get down to business. I can still hear the rhythm of the milk hitting the sides of the metal pails.

There were always a few barn cats hanging around. With their tales straight up in the air and their backs arched, they’d weave their way around the cows’ legs, waiting for Dad to pour a little fresh milk in their pan. You could hear them purring as they lapped it up.

The calves were fed in the north half of the barn. Dad would fill the calf buckets with milk and Pat and I would hang them on the fence so the calves could reach them. It was our job to make sure they didn’t knock the buckets off the fence in their eagerness to get their supper. We’d scratch their foreheads while they sucked on the nipples of the buckets.

I gathered a lot of eggs in that hen house and fed a lot of chicks in that brooder house. I can’t think of one nice thing to say about either experience. Chicks are cute, but they grow into chickens. When that process was complete, we killed them and ate them. Eating them was nice, but dressing them was for the birds.

Before I was old enough to actually help dress them, I’d watch Dad chop their heads off. He’d hold them off to one side of the chopping block (or stump, as was the case at our house) and let them bleed, then he’d toss them aside for Mom to deal with. Sometimes, they’d get up and start running around the yard, blood flying everywhere. There’s nothing scarier to a little kid than to be chased by a headless chicken with blood spurting out of its neck.

And I hated gathering eggs. I would rather feed the sows than gather eggs. I was always afraid a chicken would peck me as I reached into her nest to get the eggs. And the smell?!?! There are few things that smell worse than chicken poop. There was no way to gather eggs and feed the chickens without getting chicken poop on some part of my body. I was either stepping in it or sticking my fingers in it reaching for eggs.

Oh, well. I didn’t say they were all happy memories.


The buildings are gone. All that’s left is the hog house and the garage. And the memories.

This week’s recipes

This week I’m passing on the winning recipes from the Johnson County Fair Brownie Baking Contest, over age 18.

Brownies From Heaven

3rd place

Mary McNabb

1 lg. box brownie mix

3 eggs

1/4 c. oil

2 tbls. water

2 handfuls Hershey’s Miniature Chocolate Chips

Oil bottom of 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes.

Cocoa Cola Brownies

2nd place

Carmela Schuchert

2 c. flour

2 c. sugar

1 c. butter

2 eggs, beaten

3 tbls. Hershey’s Cocoa

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 c. buttermilk

1 c. Coca Cola

1 1/2 c. miniature marshmallows

Sir togethor flour and sugar. Heat butter, cocoa, and Coca Cola to boiling. Pour over sugar mixture; mix buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, marshmallows, and vanilla. Add to mixture and mix well. Batter will be thin. Bake for 30 min. in a greased and floured 9x13 pan at 350 degrees.


1 box (10 oz.) confectioner’s sugar

1 c. butter

3 tbls. of Hershey’s cocoa

6 tbls. Coca Cola

1 c. chopped nuts

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix butter, cocoa, and Coca Cola, heat to a boiling. Pour over sugar and blend with mixer until smooth. Add nuts and vanilla. Pour over brownies while frosting is still hot. Cool and cut into squares.

Recipe came from Jerry Baker’s “On The Garden Line” - Aug/Sept 1999.

Campfire S’mores Bars

1st place

Cherise Christiansen

4 tbls. butter

1 pkg. (13 oz.) Hershey’s Nuggets - unwrapped

Melt above gently in saucepan or microwave

44 graham crackers

Break graham cracker squares into a large bowl. Set aside.

When chocolate is melted add to it:

1/8 tsp. salt

2/3 c. light white corn syrup

3 tbls. sugar

Bring this to a boil, stirring constantly and pour over crackers in bowl. Toss quickly till completely coated.

Fold in:

3 cups mini marshmallows

Press mixture into buttered 9x13 pan (use wax paper to press flat).

Let cool 1 hour before cutting into 24 squares.

This recipe came from my mother, JoAnne Maralf, who I think adapted it from a magazine.