This open area amongst the trees of our forest was the Noreika farm land that extended nearly all the way from just west of the public landing to Noreika Road alongside Big Bass Lake Road all the way. Beyond Noreika Road was our forest land and that extended all the way to the north side of Big Bass Lake to and including the west side of Matson Road.
Yet that open land must have meant back-breaking work for my grandfather and his sons along with whatever hired help he could afford in those times. I recall my grandmother, Barbara Noreika, telling me that my grandfather spent long grueling hours with his horse team pulling out countless stumps from that field which must have originally been just as dense with trees as the rest of our forest.
My Uncle Joe once told me that he did not have the physical frame for such work and that his bad back at that time must have been a result of those early days where he helped his grandfather clear the land. It must have been a primary reason why my father left the farm at such an early age (twelve) to seek work away from the Big Bass Lake area. Even my grandfather once fell from his wagon while his horse team was pulling up stumps causing him to be laid up for quite some time.
Then, I also wonder why that singular tree way not cut down with the rest of the trees which you can observe in the middle of the field on the lower right side of this picture. Maybe it was a place to gain some rest under its spreading branches after a hot day of work on that field? I have often wondered how long clearing all that land took before it was ready for the plow? And, what crops did my grandfather plant over the whole of that field? Did he understand crop rotation?
In later years all that land was plowed for hay to feed the few cows we had left on the farm. It was stacked nearly to the rafters of our barn. But in its heyday I can well imagine fields of corn, wheat, and barley. Plus, my grandmother had a large garden just outside the house area full of all kinds of vegetables for the table. You see in those days food for the family largely came from the land itself along with milk and other related dairy products from the cows and chicken from the barnyard along with eggs. Pork and bacon came from the small pig farm we also had. It must have been such a hard life for my grandparents and for my father and his siblings.