father has spoken on occasion
of being born too late, of belonging in his heart to an earlier
I understand, more and more each year, and I see more than a few ways
I'm following in his footsteps. In 1972 we moved from the
this little old farm, driven by my dad's desire to live a more rural
despite the stresses of a bureaucratic office job. More than
years later, it's me that's working a bureaucratic office job and
for the beauty and tangible satisfaction of farm life. It'll
be some years before I can move to a farm of my own--so in the
I keep in touch to the extent I can with this one particularly nice old
|Winter at the farm is magic,
a time for eating chili and playing euchre,
and wearing old sweatshirts. There are some outside chores to
to, but not many. The kids are still too young to ride on
I pull them with the tractor, but that day is coming.
the leaves off the trees
and the soft light of an overcast winter day, the countryside lends
to black and white: I'd trade a month of good days in the
for a "bad" day on the farm.
morning in the summer, the cats
come out of the barn and wait for the day to begin. At times
this I can closely imagine the similar times on countless little farms
over the years...early morning chores done, breakfast under way, the
rising on the warmth and promise of the growing crops.
I could find a lot worse
things to do than wander around in some old barns for a while, looking
at the things that gradually find their way to the darker and dustier
out of the path of regular use, waiting for the next season, or maybe
this barn; it's
old but strong and mostly straight, built well with hand tools, their
still visible after all this time. There were a few years
piled loose hay in this section of the barn, when my dad had no baler
all of us kids were still around to help, and we eventually ended up
from these beams down onto the haystack. It was fun, but as I
back on it now as a grown-up, I think (a) it's
lucky we didn't seriously
hurt ourselves, and (b) I bet that hay was mostly
tough old stalks
by the time we got done pounding it.
Walking up from the
pasture one day, I looked up and saw this vapor trail from an airplane
high overhead, and it just struck me as a neat image.
Late May: Trees are
deep green now, and the air is warm. It's a great time for
out the barn, clearing away piles of brush that accumulate here and
trimming some dead limbs off the tree that got hit by a storm a while
The hills make good pastures
and good toboggan slopes, and lend themselves to the kind of
labor-intensive hobby farming I'd like to do myself someday.
combines with eight-row corn heads on these fields).
changeable day in the
Sun and clouds chasing each other, alternately filling the landscape
brilliance and then washing it with softness.
This spring-tooth harrow
was old when we bought it, but has served well for many years
With the tines extended to their deepest position, it made the old Case
work up a sweat--and filled the air with the fresh scent of earth.
is perhaps my favorite month,
with postcard perfect color and clear air. The hay in the
smells sweet and fresh, but now you have to get up a bit close to
scent no longer comes and finds you. It ought to be pumpkin
harvest time, the occupation my brothers and sister and I all passed
on our way to getting driver's licenses and school diplomas, but the
this picture was taken there were none--the crop just failed.
theory is that the hay didn't get rained on that year, so the pumpkins
had to fail so that my dad could curse about something).
the years there've been cows and
pigs, sheep and goats, chickens and ducks, but the horses pretty much
the run of the pasture now. Click
some of my dad's recollections about earlier times on the farm.