Time for another bit of Joe Skidmore’s diary – 1869, east Texas, small farmers under trying circumstances.
I haven’t written for a few days because we’ve just been too damn busy. There’s been so much rain that everything’s waterlogged, and the roof began to leak right over Isaac’s bed. Isaac being Isaac said he needed to sleep in mine since he has to do a full days work whereas I can loaf around at home on account of my bum leg. I guess we got a bit loud because Pa came in and, for once, took my part. He hauled Isaac out by the ear and made him sleep on the rug by the fire. We put a bucket on the bed to catch the drips and the next day spent a lot of time trying to fix shingles over where the wet is getting in. It’s hard to work on a roof that’s slick with green, when the rain’s beating down and the wind’s like to blow you clear over the hog pen. But I only fell off once. Isaac fell off twice and the second time put a ding in his scalp that, Dad said, made him look like he’d been scalped.
The shingles are holding up, so far, but I fear it’s just a patch and when the good weather comes we’ll have to take off the leaky plank. It looks rotten to me. But right now there’s so much rain! We dug a little ditch to take the water away where it drips off the eves so it can run down to the creek, but the creek came to meet it. We’re high enough for it not to bother us too much but the O’Connells down stream have had to move out of the house because the creek was lapping at their step.
They had a bit of time and took their things up to the barn and put a tarp over it to keep the drips off. Pa says it’s their fault for being lazy and that they should have built higher and further away but I think it’s a pity. It can’t be nice to lose your home. Ma thinks so too and we cooked up some biscuits and a pot of beans to take over for them. Ma says that when they were new come to the area people shook their heads over where they built but nobody spoke up about it. Seems a bit unfair to laugh at them now.
The wind’s really howling tonight. Maybe if I’m not right for being a cowboy I could go to Corpus Christi and learn how to build boats. Things go on the way they are we might be needing an ark.