Today’s post will be a little different from my everyday farm rant. I want to start this blog entry off with a short little personal story. When I was in 8th grade I had a history teacher; Mr. Wielgus who assigned us a project to complete over Christmas break. I of course was not happy about the idea of having to do a project over Christmas break, but I bit my lip and pushed through it. The project was to put together a sort of “History” book of my family tree. I gathered up information regarding names and basic knowledge of who my ancestors were, but the biggest accomplishment I had was interviewing my Great Grandparents Roland and Genevieve. My Great-Grandmother was born in 1920 and had an incredible story to tell. I recorded the audio on a little cassette audio tape and I can’t for the life of me find the darn thing. I sat at the table in front of my great grandparents as they told a story of their childhood and life. They talked of being in a classroom full of multiple grades of kids and how they had to make sure they worked hard on the farm so that they could go to school. Christmas would come around and Santa would show up at their house and hand all the kids fruit. Fruit was pretty hard to come by especially during the winter. The kids loved it and were so grateful to have had such a wonderful present. I remember her saying that she had gotten a writing pad and pencil for Christmas one year and that she was very excited to get it. Grandma had to fetch wood for their wood stove in the house during the winter along with feeding animals and making sure there was plenty of straw and hay in the barns for the animals. Every so often her dad would pay her 50 cents for all of her hard work. Another memory she had of her father was when he had gotten angry with her because he thought she was using too much paper at school. The cost to produce paper back then was pretty high. It’s hard to believe that soon paper will become obsolete. Instead we will have “throw-away” computer tablets or something. I sat at the table stunned…totally unable to comprehend how little they got for Christmas while able to still enjoy it! She continued to talk about living on the farm and making sure that all the work was done before anyone got to have fun and play. She walked 5 miles to school every day and attended mass daily before school. She got her 8th grade diploma, which at that time was the highest offered education where she lived.
The Homestead. Washington, Mo.This is the House Great-Grandpa grew up in. Great-Grandma moved in when they got married and they had their first 3 children here!
She said that she admired her mother so much by her ability to handle stress. She cooked on a wood stove for my great-grandmother’s wedding and there were 150 people there! She remembers the wedding being in the morning right after morning milking so that there would be time for festivities before they would need to milk cows in the evening. Animals don’t just stop for you when you need a break. Farming was 7 days a week without any vacations! We have a small set of dairy goats that we have to milk twice a day, and I can attest to the amount of work this is. You absolutely cannot skip a milking. The animals can get ill and sometimes even die. She told me that her first “vacation” was when she was 60 years old when she flew to visit her daughter in Colorado. This is pretty incredible. She also mentioned that her favorite invention was indoor plumbing. No more trips to the outhouse in freezing cold weather!
I just sit here and ponder all of the advances that have occurred in her lifetime. She went from outhouses to indoor plumbing, Dirt roads to paved ones, expensive paper to inexpensive computers. The list could go on and on. I would venture to say the she has experienced the greatest technology jump that anyone has ever experienced to date!
When I asked her about the great depression, which would have been from when she was 9 until she was 19. She looked at me kind of puzzled like she was trying to think whether that time frame was significant. She said that they had no clue that “The Great Depression” was even going on. She laughed, and we all laughed till I realized that she wasn’t kidding. Grandma, how on earth would you not know that the great depression wasn’t going on? Everyone lost all of their money and no one had any work! She said that they had everything they needed on the farm. Life continued on just like it always had. They were producing food that their family ate, and whatever they had extra they sold. They didn’t live a life of luxury with fancy cars and fancy clothes. They were farmers, and when they woke up they had a responsibility to get things done so that they could eat and make a living.
I think that this was one of the most influential things that anyone has ever told me. Grandma and Grandpa had much more to say of course, which I accounted for in my project. I loaded up all of the information in a binder and when I got my “A” I handed it to my mom and she stored it! The point of this little story is to explain what it takes to live a happy life. I am sure they had their ups and downs, but she has had a pretty eventful life while being a farmer! I go and see her every few weeks to bring her eggs and to chit chat about things. On a recent visit I went there to tell her that my wife Alicia is pregnant. My mother, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother were the first people I told on my side of the family. I told Great-Grandma my plan was to tell these three women first, so that way everyone would find out rather quickly! I told her how I look forward to taking a 5 generation picture once the baby gets here. Can you believe it!? My mom will be sitting there with her grandchild while also sitting next to her own grandmother. That just blows my mind!
This is a picture of my younger sister, my mother, my grandmother, and my great grandmother. I look forward to a five generations picture coming in January!
Great-Great-Grandma the farmer holds the newest addition to a generation of farmers. I want my children to experience all the wonders of farm life that she experienced. My Great-Grandmother had 11 children, which I am not sure if I could handle. Not to mention I am not sure Alicia would be up for it either! I want my children to understand what it takes to bring food to the table. I want them to respect all of the work and care that goes into raising animals. I don’t want them to know what a chicken nugget is. I want them to ask what part of the chicken does that come from!? I will answer…nobody knows. I want them to know how important it is to respect animals and to care for them like they are their own flesh and blood. I want them to know why it is important to feed them healthy food. People think that we need to shield our kids from the processing of an animal for food. I think that they need to see it to know that food doesn’t just come from a box or a bag. They can learn early on what is humane and what is not humane. They will know to stay away from commercially produced meat because the animals are unhealthy and treated poorly. I don’t want to pull a veil over their eyes and tell them that everything is all lemon drops and gum drops here in farmland. This isn’t a Facebook game. Animals die, and sometimes unexpectedly. It is up to us as farmers to do everything we can to provide an excellent life to these animals and ensure that the people who purchase our food know what it means to eat a product that was humanely raised and fed a healthy diet.
We are having a little boy, and Alicia has already nicknamed him “Bean”. We decided that we like old fashioned names and that we wanted to keep the name in the family. I’ll let you guess what his real name is!
To wrap up this short post, yes this is our announcement to the world about the baby. We waited long enough to be comfortable sharing this information, and we are not about to just throw up a short Facebook post with a picture of the ultrasound. Our lives revolve around our 18 acre farm and this next phase of our lives will bring on the future of our farming adventures. Bean will be thrown into this crazy world of farming without knowing any different, and I can’t wait to show him the way.