Sunday Prose: The Farm

the farm 026.
The Farm will be random posting of a
little storytelling, oral history and updates
on the renovation of our family farm.
Silver Dollars
The sun finally slipped behind the ten foot leafy corn tops, our first full day at our family farm almost complete at eight forty, the entire western sky a warm tangerine. It is serenity still here on this late summer night, no breeze brushing across the grass, not a single leaf in transit, only the fireflies momentarily dotting the darkness silently leaving their slow motion, crisscrossing phosphorescent trails.

It is quiet enough to hear my own breathing sitting on the small steps to the 130 year old farm house, white and wood framed that sits on 3 tidy acres, an almost square parcel, a postage stamp carved into a 100 acre plot, surrounded, fort like by an impenetrable closely planted wall of crops on all four sides.

From these well worn concrete steps through the densely planted century old trees you can spy the gravel road, a quarter mile long canal like passage through a double sided wall of corn plants standing sentry to the county road, our entry is unmarked except for the house directly across the road.

There is one landline phone, no internet service
and an old t.v. and all of us consider this place
our private slice of the universe.
the farm 016
There is a quiet and humble history on this property, in the trees that were climbed by the children who grew up on this farm, in the still visible foundation outline of the once huge barn, in every dented and gouged pine door casing, the ancestry of Scout’s family is explained in these details and always further illuminated in our post dinner conversations. Country folk love telling stories and with very little fanfare and a matter of fact manner that belies the profound humanity, the empathy like a ribbon that runs through this family, tales were told tonight too.

Scout and her younger brother spent their summers on this farm, it was a working farm then with a huge pasture for the steer that her granpa Pap butchered, chickens and horses, the crops were soybeans, corn, hay and peony plants. The multistory post and beam constructed barn was enormous by all accounts, the heart of any farm and this barn served as the center of activity and endless hours of discovery for the kids too.

The horses and ponies were a favorite, Sccout spent her time learning to care, feed, walk and eventually ride these horses so much so that Gram ordered Pap to build her a racetrack behind the barn. This was no small affair, the size of this track would take out a significant portion of the pasture and there were conversations between Gram and Pap about the wisdom of this idea but as so many of the stories are indicative of the strength and conviction of the women in this family, Gram prevailed.

She always did.

Gram and Pap grew up during the Great Depression and talked often about being ‘dirt poor’, their families barely survived, scratching out a living however they could in this farming town in southern Indiana just outside Evansville and it’s doubtful that they would have described this same piece of land as a slice of the universe then, as we do now. She learned to cook at a very early age, her scribbled recipes, a shaky penciled script written on stained and wrinkled, blue lined loose leaf pages are coveted by the women in this family, every family had but a few until Scout compiled them into a book and each family then received their own copy one Christmas.

Gram set aside her Avon side business in 1970, took her cooking talents and became the head lunchroom cook at the local elementary school, always adding an extra helping of whatever was on the menu that day to the plates of the very poor among the students. There were four kids in particular, 2 brothers and 2 sisters whose family was considered ‘poorer than dirt poor’ even then, lunch was their only nutritious meal of the day.

Gram invited these children to the farm every day on the pretense of playing in the barn with my wife and her brother and play they did. The boys built an enclosed fort from the hay bales behind the barn and when they all felt very adventurous and were sure no adults were looking, climbed to the second story rafters of the barn and jumped, one by one into the huge 12’ high pile of shelled feed corn below.

Actually, this story was just revealed to Scout’s parents tonight, to their rolled eyes and ‘Oh, no you didn’ts!’, and we all had a great big laugh at the secrets kids can keep.

But the real reason Gram brought those 4 hungry kids to their farm after school was to feed them, they all shared dinner together and whenever she could, unbeknownst to Pap or anyone else, she would slip them each a silver dollar and send them back home.

Decades later when Gram died, the 4 grown adults who all still lived in the area, all successful now, came to Gram’s funeral and told the whole family this story, the story the they were all learning about as they listened, the tale of a woman quietly sharing what she had with those less fortunate. The 2 sisters and 2 brothers then asked if they could place a small suede pouch they had brought with them, into Grams casket to honor her memory.

The small, hand stitched suede pouch cinched
tight with thin leather roping the family learned,
was filled with silver dollars.
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18 thoughts on “Sunday Prose: The Farm

  1. What a beautiful story. So sweet and touching. I’m s happy for all of you.

  2. Chas Spain says:

    Wonderful story – so real about people in those days – even people who hardly had anything themselves would not think twice about helping out some one who was doing it harder. My hubby just told me about some research he was looking up which showed that children who grew up through the depression were relatively more resilient and more successful than the generation who had grown up more comfortably in earlier times.

    • hi Chas, ty so much for leaving such a thoughtful comment
      and a warm welcome to you.

      well, my own unofficial, unscientific anecdotal eveidence
      might have to agree with that research. the stories i’ve
      heard just from sitting around after dinner with this family,
      the hardships and uncertainty they lived with, what they
      subsisited on nutritionally….it just makes me shake my
      head in amazement.

      yet, there was this ‘we’re all in this together’ collective
      spirit that becomes eveident, with each story i hear.

  3. Skye says:

    I am sitting here right now typing to you from my own 125 year old farm house in the middle of the country. I often wonder what these walls would say if they could speak. I hope they would tell stories such as the one you shared. This post certainly made me smile. Thank you for sharing.

    • hi Skye, i wondered when i looked through the beautiful
      photographs you have of farmland, whether that was a view
      from or of your property. there is something very sacred
      about being a current caretaker of so much history and
      bountiful farmland…wish i was there right now!

  4. wonderful heart-warming story, thanks!

    • ty so much bellalolabrigida and a warm welcome to you.
      i remember being really struck at the true humanity of
      these folks, when i heard it told that night after dinner.

      i knew i would have to write about it, i’m happy to share it.

  5. Truedessa says:

    This is a beautiful story and what a lovely gift to leave in her memory..brought a tear to my eye..silver dollars a gift from the heart.

    • hi Truedessa, and i’m not embarrassed to tell you hearing
      it brought a tear to mine too, i just didn’t want this story
      to get lost. i thought it really needed to be told, ty for
      taking the time to read it and leave such a wonderful comment.

  6. SirenaTales says:

    That warm and beautiful photo invites us to draw a chair up and “set a spell.” Then you tenderly, lovingly–and fittingly–deliver some heartwarming, vivid tales of an era past, but thankfully, not forgotten. The stories of Gram’s big heart made me cry. But, MasterWho, this lovely piece evidences that magnanimity did not die when those simpler times came to a close–your generosity is splashed all over the page. Thank you for this sacred offering. xo

    • oh my deareest Sirena ty, once again you crawl into my
      words and reveal what they attempted to express.
      these days, when everything we hear is of our incivility
      and worse to one another, i keep trying to remind myself
      that isn’t how we were meant to be.

      that very simple, human kindness travels a long way….

  7. Chess says:

    Very well written.

  8. Misty eyed over here 😉 Lovely story. Thank you for sharing it. Oh and “warm tangerine” skies…fabulous 🙂

    • yeah, i relate Melanie, i was misty eyed when i heard it too. but that’s how folks
      are here, they seem so willing and so generous to give what they have. and those
      tangerine skies are a sight to behold! ty for taking the time to read this story,
      i really appreciate the encouragement. love and light to you Melanie,,,

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