Farm News

Emmett Farm Memories

I asked my aunt if she would share some of her memories of moving to the Emmett farm and growing up here. We hope you enjoy these memories and photos as much as we did!


In 1934, jobs in South Gate, California were scarce. Frank Robinson was a skilled plasterer with a wife, Blanche, and two children, Frances and David, then aged 6 and 4. When they found themselves having to choose between gas for the Model T or milk for the children, they knew something had to change. A farm would mean a bit of security. At least they would eat! Frank had an acquaintance, Wes Awald, who had a dairy in Meridian, Idaho. He did Frank the favor of checking out the Larkin farm which was for sale in Emmett. It was 40 acres with a house and barn. His report was that the barn was good but the house was “not much.” Both were built with square nails. No plumbing in the house!

The decision was made. The Model T was traded for a larger Jewett for the trip. The kids’ cousin Don Malan was still in school, but old enough to drive the truck loaded with the family belongings. The trip took a week. It’s hard to imagine that trip without today’s highways, rest stops and drive through restaurants.

Blanche was beginning to have her doubts as they drove mile after mile through the desert. It was when they came to the top of Freezeout Hill and saw the beautiful valley below she began to feel confident about the move. In later years she would recall her relief, seeing “two shades of pink and white” stretching out below, in the valley that would be her home for the next 48 years.

They grew the grapes and bottled the juice themselves. Lots of the bottles were left behind as they drove. Less weight was better.

They grew the grapes and bottled the juice themselves. Lots of the bottles were left behind as they drove. Less weight was better.

TRAVELING

The trip from California to Idaho took a week, and the Robinsons had to picnic along the way. Frank fashioned a box to hold food, towels, and bottled grape juice. The photo shows one of the remaining juice bottles. The box would become a towel holder in the “wet room” of the home, a back room that Frank plumbed for a bathroom and laundry. Everything was used and reused, fixed or repurposed.

Frances with bee swarm

Frances with bee swarm

BEES

Frances was her Dad’s willing helper when the family kept bees. She turned the crank on the extractor and filled 5 pound tins so honey could be sold. The photo shows their bee keeping license issued by the Idaho Department of Agriculture. It came in the mail as a post card dated March 21, 1945 and had a 3 cent postage stamp.

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A bulletin from the American Honey Institute dated May, 1945 suggested the following:

“Are you serving plenty of cottage cheese these days when meat is scarce? For dessert press cottage cheese through a sieve. Add 3 tablespoons of sour or sweet cream and 3 tablespoons of honey to each cup of cheese. Beat until fluffy. Add 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Note: This is also delicious when served as a topping on gingerbread, fruit gelatin, or cherry tarts.”

American Honey Institute Bulletin

American Honey Institute Bulletin

BALING HAY

During WWII farm laborers were hard to come by. To manage hay season, a loan from Blanche’s brother Will allowed them to purchase a Case wire baler. It took all four family members to complete the job. Frances drove the tractor; Blanche fed the wires into the slots of the wood block, wearing leather gloves; David tied the wires as the 100 pound bales worked their way to the end of the process; and Frank had the dusty job of placing the wooden block that marked the end of one bale and the start of a new one. It was the first baler of its kind in the Valley.

DAIRY COWS

Soon after arriving in Emmett, Frank arranged to pasture dairy cows in exchange for the milk, probably around 8 cows. Frances was the tail holder while her Dad sat on a T stool to milk. After some time, Frank fashioned tail holders from rubber hose and heavy wire. Milk went into 10 gallon cans to be cooled in the irrigation ditch until they were picked up. As time went on, they purchased a separator and sold cream to the creamery.