Childhood Chores Sowed Seeds of Active Farm Life for Sisters : from
Reddy and Betsy have temporarily run dry. Ethel Goetz can’t go to the barn and hand-milk her two brown cows as she usually does. They have nothing to give, she said.
So she goes to the store and buys milk and butter that she knows “isn’t nearly as fresh.”
At 73, and as strong as the wind that whips across the cornfield, she lives in a white country house with her sister, Miriam, 74, in this community near Peoria.
For 24 years, since their parents died, the Goetz sisters have run the 100-acre family farm. They have rented the land to a farming neighbor, but Miriam Goetz still does the cooking and cleaning indoors. And Ethel Goetz, a rugged outsider, is in charge of the outdoor chores.
Outside, Willie the cat nests in the barnyard. The garden is ready for tilling, the peas are sown and the white picket fence--older than both sisters--borders a perfectly kept lawn.
“I miss the work in the fields, but every once in a while I get out there and run around,” Ethel Goetz said.
George and Sarah Goetz had no boys--just three girls. On the farm, that meant three girls did the chores. One left home when she was married.
“Had to milk the cows, feed the chickens, carry in the coal, carry out the ashes, carry the well water up to the house,” Miriam Goetz said. “We had apple trees and cherry trees. Canned all our own fruit and vegetables. Didn’t have a freezer or running water.”
“When the sun went down we came in and went to bed, and when the sun was up, we were ready to go.”
“Of course it was hard work,” Ethel Goetz added. “People don’t know what work is today.”
Some people say the sisters should slow down, but the farm is their life.
“Everybody says I should get rid of my cows,” Ethel Goetz said. “Why? When would I go outside and get my exercise in winter if I didn’t have to go to the barn every morning and milk those cows?
“Besides, we like to churn our own butter, sometimes.”