After the strenuous rigors of summer work, the farmers and their families prepared for the gathering in and storing of the fruits, vegetables, corn and pumpkins for the winter months. Corn was to be husked and cribbed, fodder to be stored in the mows, coal to be hauled, and wood cut and hauled from the woods.
Every farm had its own orchard, as it was no trouble then to raise fruit unblemished and without being worn-eaten. Apples then had more flavor than the apples of today. There was an orchard on the hill above our home known as the Frantz Orchard. In the summer on Sunday afternoons, we boys would gather to feast on these apples, as the Townsends who owned the orchard didn't care about the fruit as they had orchards nearer home. First would come the little Early (red) Harvest, the the Maidenblush, then the Greasy Pippin. As fall came on, we had the Rambo, Northern Spy, Baldwin and others.
More than once, my father and I would take the wagon up and pick the winter apples. Some were placed in the cellar and the rest buried in the garden. This was done by first leveling the ground off for the pile of apples, and then the process of covering them for the winter. The apples were made into a small pile in a cone shape and then covered with straw. Then you started at ground level and covered the straw with earth, forming it into a cone also. The ground was made several inches deep, and then covered with a shock of corn fodder.
Along about the first or last of January, the apples from the cellar were eaten up and you were ready for the ones in the garden, which always seemed to had obtained a special flavor. In winter, the farmers would nearly always have a pan of apples to eat before going to bed. You opened the apple hole by digging into the side and removing the straw that covered the apples. You would take enough out for the night, wash and dry them, and "Oh, Boy, did they taste good." Cabbage and turnips were buried the same way.
The apples that had fallen under the tree were picked and washed, then taken to a cider mill to be made into cider. This was a delicious drink for a few days, then some vinegar "mother" was added from the old supply, and the entire barrel aged until it was good vinegar. We never needed to buy any from the store.
Winter brought its hardships and pleasures. We prepared the buildings as much as we could for winter storms and covered all cellar windows with straw. The cattle had to be watered at the watering trough and usually the ice on top had to be chopped with an ice pick to get to the water. But the hardships were offset by the pleasures of winter. Snow meant bob-sled riding, and ice on the creek meant skating. The dam made a level, wonderful place to skate.
We would build a fire and skate, then come back and congregate around to fire to warm up. Sometimes there would be an many as 50 persons skating. They would walk from West Lebanon and Girty, boys and girls, and skate until 10:00, and then all off for home. The young people would get up a sled load, and some farmer would donate a team (mostly my father), and off to some home for a taffy pulling, or to play charades or "Skip to My Lou." Everyone had a good time and little money was spent.