The area around my house was mostly Finnish farmers and they all had chicken houses; hence the name egghill. My uncle (dead for a few years now) used to lease several of the old farms and used the chicken houses. I worked for him for a while and visited several of the properties myself. Almost all of them had steam baths built into a little outbuilding. I met one old Finnish woman who made the best dandelion wine I’ve ever tasted (I’ve only tasted a couple though).

My parents bought one of the properties that uncle farmed many years ago and I purchased an acre from them for our house. My parents had the requisite chicken house (which they used until their deaths), and also the steam bath. The old farmer who had built it did a great job. There were tier benches, hardwood walls and ceilings. The steam was created by a 50 gallon drum on its side, with cement surround and field stones covering it. When you came into the building, there was a dressing room for towels and clothing and a door near the floor where you put the wood into the sideways barrel. There was a water tank attached and shower head. When the fire had burned for a couple hours (at least), then it was time to get into the steam bath. Throwing cupfuls of water on the rocks made great steam.  What wonderful warmth and comfort after a cold day on the farm. Our skin would be beautiful – such a good pore cleansing! Then, when we couldn’t stand the heat any longer, we’d rinse off and go outside. There were times when we were too hot to put any clothes on – and just dashed naked across the driveway to the house.

My uncle was a character. He had to have been the most accident prone person (outside of my father) that I’ve ever known. He lost several fingers in a corn picker one year, and stayed attached to the picker for several hours until someone noticed and saved him! One time he was cleaning one of the chicken houses and accidentally hit his head on the top of the door frame while he was backing his tractor into the building. His ear took the brunt of the hit, and part of it fell into the chicken house and the chickens ate it!

Good memories.

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