The farm, April 2006
 At Home 
on the Farm

My father has spoken on occasion of being born too late, of belonging in his heart to an earlier time.  I understand, more and more each year, and I see more than a few ways that I'm following in his footsteps.  In 1972 we moved from the city to this little old farm, driven by my dad's desire to live a more rural life despite the stresses of a bureaucratic office job.  More than thirty years later, it's me that's working a bureaucratic office job and longing for the beauty and tangible satisfaction of farm life.  It'll still be some years before I can move to a farm of my own--so in the meantime, I keep in touch to the extent I can with this one particularly nice old place.
Winter at the farm is magic, a time for eating chili and playing euchre, and wearing old sweatshirts.  There are some outside chores to attend to, but not many.  The kids are still too young to ride on sleds while I pull them with the tractor, but that day is coming. 
Barn in winter
With the leaves off the trees and the soft light of an overcast winter day, the countryside lends itself to black and white:  I'd trade a month of good days in the office for a "bad" day on the farm. 
Summer morning In the morning in the summer, the cats come out of the barn and wait for the day to begin.  At times like this I can closely imagine the similar times on countless little farms over the years...early morning chores done, breakfast under way, the sun 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 corners, out of the path of regular use, waiting for the next season, or maybe just waiting.
Old plow
High in the barn I love this barn; it's old but strong and mostly straight, built well with hand tools, their signatures still visible after all this time.  There were a few years when we piled loose hay in this section of the barn, when my dad had no baler but all of us kids were still around to help, and we eventually ended up jumping from these beams down onto the haystack.  It was fun, but as I look 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 cleaning out the barn, clearing away piles of brush that accumulate here and there, trimming some dead limbs off the tree that got hit by a storm a while ago.
The barn in summer
The hills make good pastures and good toboggan slopes, and lend themselves to the kind of small-scale, labor-intensive hobby farming I'd like to do myself someday.  (No combines with eight-row corn heads on these fields).
The pasture
Farm in October A changeable day in the Fall:  Sun and clouds chasing each other, alternately filling the landscape with brilliance and then washing it with softness.

This spring-tooth harrow was old when we bought it, but has served well for many years since.  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.
Old harrow
October October is perhaps my favorite month, with postcard perfect color and clear air.  The hay in the barn still smells sweet and fresh, but now you have to get up a bit close to it--the scent no longer comes and finds you.  It ought to be pumpkin harvest time, the occupation my brothers and sister and I all passed through on our way to getting driver's licenses and school diplomas, but the year this picture was taken there were none--the crop just failed.  (My 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).
Horses at Christmas Over the years there've been cows and pigs, sheep and goats, chickens and ducks, but the horses pretty much have the run of the pasture now.  Click here for some of my dad's recollections about earlier times on the farm.

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Thanks for visiting!  E-mail me at if you have any comments.  I'm always glad to talk tractors and such. --Dean Vinson

Copyright notice:  Unless noted otherwise, I wrote all the text and took all the photos.  Feel free to make any personal use of them, but do not make any commercial or public use of them without my specific okay.