Monday, September 24, 2007

Family farm, farming family

Some time back one of my brothers digitized a bunch of photos and other documents that had once belonged to my father. He sent us all a copy.

Thanks Jay.

I had not seen most of this before.

This first photo is my grandfather in front of his dairy barn. My guess is that the picture is from the 1930's.

I don't remember ever having seen this barn. I've been to this farm many times. By the time of my earliest memories it was my uncle Al's farm.

As far as I can recall, uncle Al never raised any livestock at all, just row crops.

My dad did talk about the dairy business a few times that I can remember. If you had asked him to list all the jobs he would never want to have, I'm sure dairy farming would come in first.

His beef (no pun intended) with dairy work was that it involved getting up WAY to early in the morning. Pop was one of the most completely nocturnal people I have ever known.


This is my dad with a dairy calf. It would be from the late 1930's, dad was born in 1929.

My dad was the youngest of eight children. The family farm was (and still is) in Southern Minnesota.

Uncle Al took over the farm from his father. Eventually my cousin Mark took it over from his dad. Cousin Mark lives and farms there still.

My grandfather never spent much time in school. He want as far as the seventh grade I was told.

He wasn't too impressed with what he saw formal education doing for his friends and other farmers he knew. Many times he had seen the children of other farmers go off to school and then come back and try to implement what they had learned at the Ag school at the land grant Universities.

This seemed to always result in that farm taking on lots of debt and eventually failing completely.

According to my dad, grandpa offered to pay him to stay on the farm and skip school.

No doubt that had a lot to do with why pop left the farm and went to school. He stayed at school so long he wound up with a PHD and a faculty job. Contrary runs in my family.

Still he could not stop being a farm kid. By the 1960's he had seven children, six of them boys. We lived in Southeast Ohio, pop was on the faculty of Ohio University.

He bought a farm, actually three adjoining farms, a total of 392 acres in S.E. Ohio. He would joke that it was either that or put a bail bondsman on retainer, to keep his kids out of trouble.

Very recently I read reference to a farmer stereotype. You know, some yokel with three teeth who is too stupid to do anything else.

That is not at all the way I was taught to view farmers. Pop said many times that in his line of work it was necessary only to know how to teach and to know a lot about whatever subject you were teaching.

A farmer, on the other hand, must know Biology, Agronomy, Meteorology, Economics, Chemistry, Mechanics, and a long list of other subjects. And if you got any of it wrong, or worse yet, just had a bit of bad luck, no payday for you.

It's a lot easier just to be a College Professor.

Anyway, that how I wound up bailing hay, building fences, chasing girls, and drinking beer during my teenage years. As opposed to just chasing girls and drinking beer like most kids I knew at the time.

That is why I still play at farmer. I blame my dad. And his dad, and his dad.

1 comment:

farmingfriends said...

It's greast to see old photographs of farming and farm building especially when they relate to family. This post was very interesting. sara from farmingfriends