There were two creeks on the farm. The one closer to the house was referred to as the first creek while the one farther away was called the second creek. We spent many days playing in and around the creeks. Right after a rain was the most fun. The creeks werenít very deep so we could go swim and try to catch the minnows.
Kansas had bitter cold winters and it was not uncommon for us to have twelve to twenty four inches of blowing snow. The first creek always had large overhangs of drifted snow and since it was closest to the house this is where we went to play. We put on our stocking caps, our heavy coats, mittens and boots and trudged through the snow. Al usually went first so he could make a path for us. If we remembered we took a shovel . If not itís amazing what little hands can do when theyíre inspired. We looked over the overhanging drifted snow to determine which spot would make the best cave. We always started by digging the big room first and then branch out with tunnels along the bank .Itís surprising how warm these snow rooms and tunnels were.
Al and Bill trapped for mink, skunk, raccoon and possum along the creek. They were young and not strong enough to set the traps with their hands so they used their feet, with their boots on of course, to set the traps. One would stand on the trap while the other pulled the teeth apart. They usually didnít catch much but when they did it was time for a little celebration because they could sell the pelts for real money. Montgomery Ward store bought the hides. They sent out specific instructions on the care and handling of the hides. The animal had to be skinned and the hide stretched and nailed to a board, fur side down. Then it was scraped to take off all the fat. Mink brought the most money but I can remember only one mink in all the years they trapped. They caught mostly possum or skunk. There always seemed to be something wrong with the skins they sent in so they would get a deduction in pay for the pelt. The reason for the deduction was usually not thick enough hair on the pelt. I guess we didnít live far enough north for the animal to grow really thick hair.
In the fall of the year dad went along the first creek to cut trees for wood for the cook stove and the heating stove. He took his big saw from the wall of the barn and headed for the creek. Late in the afternoon after he had cut enough wood to bring to the house he came back to the barn to hitch up a couple of the horses to a sled. The sled was about six feet wide and maybe eight foot long. It was a home made affair made with two six by six pieces of lumber with flat boards across. The sled did not have wheels but scraped along the ground on the two six by six boards. Cutting the wood and getting it to the wood pike took a lot of time.
The second creek was deeper than the first creek. It went dry during the hottest part of the summer. One summer day Bill, Al and I decided we would dig for diamonds and since the diamonds were probably deep in the earth we thought the bottom of the creek would be a good place to start since it was lower than the surrounding land. So off we went with our shovels and our lunch. There was much discussion about the best place to start digging.. The dirt in our creek was just black soil with some, but not much sand. We picked out the lowest spot where we thought for sure the diamonds would be and we began to dig. We dug until our hole was perhaps two feet deep. We were tired and besides it must be time for lunch so we took out our butter and sugar sandwiches and ate. .After we ate we went back to digging but, not for diamonds this time but for oil because we didnít find any diamonds and maybe oil was closer to the surface. We dug for another half hour or so and decided it must be the middle of the afternoon and that it was time to head back to the house. We got home in time to have another lunch.