Farm Still Cultivates Memories

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Our farm neighbor called simply to verify my phone number, part of a list that perished along with his former cell phone. Yet, we proceeded to visit for 22 minutes, first about a project of our local FFA Alumni affiliate to highlight notable alumni achievements. I learned that our neighbor had won national 4-H and FFA awards for his farm electrification project in the early 1960s. He brought electricity to the barns on his family’s farm, of particular significance to power heat lamps for newborn pigs. And I listened in amazement.

Of late, farm lore seems a theme. A lady that once lived on a farm that our family now owns stopped to visit her old inhabitance. She called to reminisce about the tour and her fond memories of the farm. She chatted about the hogs and cattle once there, the old wood buildings her dad had built, and even the daily chores she now cherishes.

My grandpas remember farming when horsepower came from horses and when shelling corn was a neighborhood affair. But I like to think we’re making new memories here on the farm and assume the farm seems as modern now as it likely felt modern then. Certainly, times have changed. The business climate of farming has intensified, the equipment more high-tech and farms bigger. And presidential talk of renegotiating trade deals has me taking a studied look at the countries that buy our farm’s corn and soybeans.

What fond memories will our kids share with the next generation? The hours spent with dad in the tractor or combine. Their help in painting every square inch of our new farm office. Riding pedal tractors in the shop. Seeing newborn pigs within hours of birth. Their first experience walking beans. For them, hands-free, satellite-guided steering is as commonplace as a rotary phone to my childhood, and they look at such dials with foreign eyes. We hope our kid’s childhood experiences keep them connected to the farm, regardless of their future path.

Somehow, my conversation with the neighbor detoured to another family farmstead’s old farm buildings, built with the red oak and white oak trees that he and relatives had logged from the property. He also talked about hauling a barge wagon of ear corn up the steep hill on Snake Den Road, a road fitting of its name. He tells me the hill was much steeper then than now, just as farming was much different. I shook my head in disbelief, truly engrossed by the story and wondering what stories we’ll share generations from now.

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