The farmhouse sat very far back from the road. There were, at one time, two gravel lanes that led back to the farm buildings.
Cleo’s farm consisted of 110 acres.
One lane was used up until a horrible storm came through and washed out the small bridge that ran across a stream. That stream led into a sewage treatment plant, that then emptied into the Nashaminy Creek.
Part of that Nashaminy Creek meandered back through the other side of Cleo’s property.
There were two barns. The oldest barn was what we called the cow barn. It had 100’s of cattle stalls for milking. In the back there was the bull pen. At one point, Cleo had added onto the cow barn another partition that’s where calves were kept. One of the stalls kept the biggest hog I ever saw. His ears were as big as my face.
There were also goats. Lots of goats. It is not a old wives tale when you hear that a goat will eat anything.
There were plenty of cats and dogs. Most of the cats were feral and never saw a vet. The dogs were mutts. Lou would put large bowls on dry dog food out on the front porch in each evening.
Only one dog was well cared for. That was this nasty white Spitz, named Marshmallow. Cleo took Marshmallow with her everywhere. That dog had the worst temperament. It snapped and snarled at everyone and everything … except Cleo. I always thought that dog and Cleo suited each other.
The second floor of the cow barn was a huge loft. There was a huge door that opened to allow hay wagons, corn wagons and other equipment to be unloaded and stored there. The lofts were actually on both sides. Hay and other materials were stacked to the ceiling. There were hooks attached to a pulley system that was attached to the ceiling to make it easier to stack bales.
On the very top beam in the cow barn loft was a pair of Barn Owls. The owls were there the whole time I was at the farm. I remember watching this pair of Barn Owls. As a child I thought they were the same Owls, but I am not sure now. I remember watching the male owl fly out at night and return to feed his mate while she was sitting on her eggs. While sitting on her eggs she never left her nest. Eventually, I would hear the baby owls. He would feed Mrs. Owl for awhile longer, then she would fly out while he stayed with the young owls and she would return and feed him and the baby Owls. It was cool to watch. The nest was too far up for Cleo to bother Mr. or Mrs. Owl, and Cleo said she didn’t mind because Owls kept rodents away.
I do remember that there weren’t any rodents that I was aware of in the loft. I was thankful for that, since I had to sleep there a lot. Depending on Cleo’s mood, I could stay in the house, in the cellar or be banished from the house altogether to the barn lofts.
The other barn was the horse barn. Cleo used to buy Jockey Horses. At one time she had over 30 horses. The stalls in the horse barn were large, and square in shape as opposed to the cow barn “neck type” harness the cows were kept in. The barn loft in the horse barn was smaller than the cow barn. There was one large door in the middle of the loft that went to the outside. This door was used to put the hay and feed into the loft. The only way to access this door was by opening it from the inside. To get up to the loft from the inside you went up wooden ladder and through a trap door. Hay bales and feed were put into this loft by setting up the conveyer belt to bring the hay or feed up. One person below on the outside of the barn would load the conveyer belt, one person at the top would unload the bales and feed as it came off. Each morning, hay bales and feed would be dropped down and distributed to the horses as needed.
Behind the horse barn was a large manure pile. Next to the manure pile was a piece of equipment called a manure spreader. The manure was spread in the fields prior to planting to fertilize the fields.
There was a large well that looked like a wishing well on the back side of the house in the back yard. The water in the well was not safe for drinking. It was rancid. The back yard had several trees – Pear, Apple, and Crab Apple.
There was a couple of chicken coops behind the horse barn. I was the one who got to rob the nests every morning.
Directly in front of the house was a large field, used mostly for grazing cows. The gravel driveway separated the two fields in the front of the property. On the other side, in front of the cow barn, was a larger field also used mostly for the horses. The other fields were used to grow hay, wheat, and corn respectively.
In the very back of the property was a wooded area. I remember I liked to go back there to get away from Cleo and Lou. I also liked to explore. I would often ride my horse, Candy, bareback. At the very edge of Cleo’s property was this old run-down one-room school house. Behind that were two old outhouses. Back in this area, strawberries and blueberries grew wild in the summer. I used to pick them and eat them. I used to love to tie Candy to a low tree branch and explore the old school house. I also would climb the tree’s. I remember every spring the most beautiful orange wild lilies would grow wild back there.