Let the land produce...

Updated: Jun 13, 2021

As I spent my days as a 10 year old riding my bike up & down Wright Street in Omaha, Nebraska, life was moving at a different pace in a land that I knew little about in Cass County, Indiana. Country life was not completely foreign to me as my family did spend summer vacations with both my maternal (Joe & Maxine) & paternal (Paul & Mary Alice) grandparents who farmed in Cass & neighboring Miami County. In the 8 hour drive from Omaha to Indiana, my brother Troy could think of nothing else but having a reason to wear his bibs & ride on the tractors with our granddads. I, however, spent the entire 8 hour drive wishing I had stayed behind with my city friends.

While Troy was riding the tractors, I was relegated to grandmother's stifling kitchen preparing sack lunches to deliver to the field. On the farm truck's tailgate under the hot Indiana sun, we'd wait for the menfolk at the end of the row to give them their meals. Upon returning to grandma's house, I'd cool off in the livestock water tank before going to the garden to pick vegetables for the evening's supper.

Unbeknownst to me, a 10 year old farm boy was driving tractors up & down these same fields we live on today. Scott was working these fields not much more than 10 miles from my grandparents. He had already spent the entirety of his young life tending animals, watching the family's crops, & tagging along with his dad to the coffee shop to hear local farmers shoot the breeze about whose corn would be the first to be knee high by the fourth of July.

Fast forward 40 years. Last fall, we were given the opportunity to lease additional Jackson family farm ground bordering our's. For the past 10 years, that land had been in the Conservation Reserve Program. While we had been raising hay for nearly 20 years, we decided that we would plant crops in the new ground. Along with that, we would be tearing up some of our own hay ground. It was going to take a lot of hard work to get the ground ready. We, including Scott's dad, spent the better part of the fall digging up small trees & tilling the ground.

Over the winter, we researched, weighed our options, & watched the commodity markets to finally decide on planting soybeans. Now, because we only have hay equipment, we had to hire the help of our friendly farmer/friend Michael to get seeds in the ground. We have exchanged help many times over the years due to various breakdowns during our hay seasons. Michael's wealth of knowledge & use of his equipment has been immeasurable!

I was so excited, almost giddy, the day Michael called to say he was coming over to start planting. Scott was thrilled when Michael let him loose on one of his tractors to disc up the field. He had forgotten how much he enjoyed working ground. One of my favorite springtime smells is freshly worked ground. This time, knowing it was coming from our own field, the dusty scent brought me such joy.

Were my grandmothers just as excited about getting seeds in the ground? What did they do to ease their husbands' stressed minds waiting for the rain... but not too much rain? How did they allay their fears of whether the harvest would bring a good price to pay the expenses & put food in their children's bellies for the year?

At 10, this small town girl had not yet learned to listen to my heart telling me to "slow down, witness, & learn from your ancestors as the farm life may be your's some day". I hope that Kaycee heeds my warnings that I ignored years ago as she may also decide that farm life may be hers some day.

'Til next time folks!

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