The Family Farm

The family farm has a different look today. The changes are a mixed bag, some good, some not so good. Many farms were started by homesteaders, claiming a piece of ground to raise crops and critters to sell and for food on the farm. They cleared the land, they worked the soil and they built their homes and barns to create a way of life, a living for their families.

If all went well, they were able to pass their farms on to their offspring. With luck, the offspring improved the farm, planted better crops and raised their families on that farm, and again, with some luck, they passed the farm onto their offspring. Along the way, that tradition started to change.

Over the years, as parents passed, and children inherited the farms, many decided that they did not want the farm life and sold their farms for the cash they could get out of it. Maybe they had to, to survive the financial pressures that many felt. At any rate, the family farms started to disappear, corporate buyers started to buy up the family farms so that they could expand their operations and to increase their profit margins. Families moved off of the family farm and today, the family farm is becoming a memory, cherished by those who are now wishing they had held onto their farm.

Today, there are many more pressures on the family farm. Because of financial pressures of all kinds, there is much more corporate ownership, and even worse, foreign ownership is growing, something that I don’t even think should be allowed. It is the worst possible situation when foreigners control our food source and a huge chunk of our financial freedom.

Add to that pressure, the quest for green energy. Wind farms are popping up all over the country, each turbine taking out about one acre of farm production. The companies that want to build these farms pressure locals, dangling nice looking carrots in front of them to win their quest to build these wind farms, potentially ruining the farm ground forever. Again, this takes farm ground out of production, yes, it gives the land owner some cash, but more than likely, that farm ground will never be used to farm again. I know that we need to come up with alternative energy sources, but I think a short sided view and effort without studying the long term impact is not only short sided, it weakens the family farm concept and it forces us to start relying on foreign sources of food and income. Not good for our country and our way of life.

I realize that this post may be a little bit controversial, but I believe in what I have said here, and I am not afraid to voice that opinion. I have no problem with differing opinions, but if any comments become snarky and anything other than an opposing view, the comments will be deleted, and commenting will be turned off. It is not my intention to create another reason to hate.

The images below have been more heavily edited than what I normally do. They do not really reflect the comments that I have posted, but they do represent change, change that is outside of my normal. It also shows that change can be beautiful, and if carefully thought out, change can work.

Spring has Sprung, Maybe….

Had to be in the area of the farm today, so I took the opportunity to take the battery for the “Bad Boy”, and get it hooked up with the idea that I will go down sometime this weekend to change the oil and clean it up a little more before starting the mowing season, which by the looks of things, won’t be too long down the road. I am more than ready, I love spending a couple of hours riding around on that mower, getting some work done, but also soaking in the fresh country breeze, enjoying the sights around the farm, and just relaxing.

While they may be small and hard to spot, there are definite signs of spring all around the farm. The trees in the front yard are budding out really nice, if the warm temps hold on, it won’t be long till we see the green of small, new leaves. Next thing you know, there will be the sound of the birds singing and flittering about, making nests and getting ready to raise the seasons new “crop”.

I also saw some workers prepping for some tile placement just south and east of Mom’s place, another sign that spring is just around the corner, getting the last of the winter projects cared for just in time for planting. I also saw a couple of guys getting their planters tuned up, can’t wait to see them in the field. The smell of freshly turned soil, is a joy that I think that most would not understand, but it is perfume of the highest quality, I wish somebody would bottle it.

As I was leaving, the sun was still kinda high in the sky, but the clouds coming in helped to turn it into a beautiful sunset image, another view that is always different on the farm, but always beautiful.

Waiting for Spring

Well, we are closing in on the middle of February. No real big snowfalls to get excited about, we have had some really cold weather, but today, it is about 50 degrees out, and the sun is shining bright. Sounds like a good day to drive down to the farm…

So, Susan and I jumped into the truck, and we drove to the farm. The air was cool but comfortable, and the farm is showing some very subtle signs of spring. You can’t see in the pictures, but there is green in the branches on the trees. New growth, I am assuming. The ground is still a little bit frozen, but the top layer is thawing out, starting to get a little mud on the surface.

We didn’t really stay long, not much to do today, won’t be long it will be time to get the mower set up for a summer of mowing. Oil change, and all that stuff. I can’t wait. Most hate to mow, it is a time to escape the city and it’s problems. It is a time to empty the brain of garbage that is not needed. Relaxation on a “Bad Boy” mower. Don’t worry, you will see me in action once we start up again.

The pictures in this post were taken with my phone, I had my camera with me, but I just didn’t feel like getting that involved in the photo process, plus I can do a few different things with my phone that I can’t with my camera.

This is the west side of the pasture, looking north from our little "house on the prairie"

Time Marches On

For as long as I can remember, this old tree stood guard over the driveway at the farm. As kids, we would have races from the house to the tree. It was our guidepost, when we saw that tree by the road, we knew we were almost there.

Time stands still for no one. This tree, for so long, was “the farm”. All of a sudden, we drive to the farm to see the tree laying down in the yard. A high wind came through and took advantage of the weekend, hollow trunk, forever changing the landscape. We now wait to see the buildings on the horizon. Not the same, but still a reassuring sign that a good day is about to happen…

SNOW, Yeah Right…….

I love the snow. I especially like to be at the farm after a good snow. We have been promised a couple of good snows recently, only to be left to slosh around in a very wet, sloppy mess. No accumulation to speak of. I am disappointed as I had planned on spending some time at the farm with the camera. So far, the year has been a bust. Still some time left, we will see what happens.

I often wonder what it was like back in the early days of this farm. How did Aunt Millie and Uncle Jim handle the cold and the snow? With livestock on the farm, they had no choice but to tend the animals, and I am sure the outhouse was a very long walk with a foot of snow on the ground. (I do know they used a chamber pot at night) but it still had to be emptied. Other than that, I think life was pretty much business as usual. Get up early, get the stove fired up, get the heat back up in the house. I wonder about the well, I know deep down, it wouldn’t freeze, but I am sure the pump would freeze up, so an additional chore there. Then walk a path out to the chicken coop, and to the barn to feed the livestock and milk the cows. Go back inside warm up to get ready for round 2. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but fighting the probably blowing snow, the chores became that much more difficult to perform. I can tell you one thing, they probably didn’t fuss about all the snow, they just did what they do, and they got their work done. We could learn something from them….

Not a lot of snow on this trip from a couple of years ago. Still, the roads were difficult, and those ditches are deep. Not much of a chance without 4 wheel drive
Looks kinda stark and desolate, yet beautiful
If memory serves me, it was very cold and windy (it is always windy at the farm) on this trip to the farm. It sure looks cold.

The Garden

You have heard the term “green thumb”. If you looked up a description for Aunt Millie, that would be at the top of the description. She could grow a garden that seems impossible to me. Every common vegetable from radishes to sweet corn was planted with care, and according to the signs of the moon. I think she used the Farmer’s Almanac to get her information on when to plant, but it was all by the different phases of the moon. It seemed to work for her, I remember helping her in the garden, harvesting some green beans and cucumbers and peppers. I remember munching on a fresh picked green bean, man they were good fresh picked. Think I would occasionally manage a green pepper too, one of my favorite garden veggies.

She also grew some of the best cantaloupes in the area. At least that is the story that I heard. She would bring a big bunch of them up and I would load up my wagon, maybe along with some cucumbers, maybe some green peppers and a tomato or two. I would walk my neighborhood street and it did not take long to empty the wagon. I don’t think she could have grown enough to satisfy the neighborhood, but we did have to make sure there was enough to enjoy ourselves…

While I remember how much fun it was to help Millie in the garden, today, I do not care to garden. If it weren’t for my wife, we would not get the fresh tomatoes, green peppers and other garden delicacies. I do love fresh veggies though….

Below, is a recipe from Aunt Millie’s recipe collection. I do remember these pickles, and I can attest to the delicious taste that thes had.

Bread & Butter Pickles

Heirloom recipe handed down from:             Millie Watts

Region of origin: N/A                                      Origin date: N/A

Tradition: Serve with Meals                                       Prep time: 2 hours          Servings: N/A


1 gallon of Cucumbers                               2 Tsp. of white mustard seed

1 Quart of onions                                        2 Tsp. of celery salt

4 green peppers

Salt, 1 quart of vinegar

2 cups of sugar

2 Tsp. of Turmeric


Soak in salt water. Slice cucumbers, onions and green peppers. Sprinkle with salt while slicing. Add all ingredients and cook till tender. Put up in quart jars.

It is Cold and Rainy Outside…

Well, you might think from my previous posts, that the farm was always a sunny and warm place, good for growing crops, and for playing. Far from it. There were plenty of cool, rainy summer days when we visited. We still found ways to have fun. There were cards to play, Chinese checkers, checkers, and if we got tired of those games, there was always the Sunday funnies from the news paper. I don’t think we ever got bored on a farm visit. Plus, if we were stuck in the house, then the home baked cookies were always close at hand.

If it got too cool, Jim would fire up the stove, not too much, just enough to take the chill out of the air. A warm living room, warm, fresh bake cookies, a checker board and maybe something on the old radio or if the reception was good that day, we could watch Chet Huntley and David Brinkley do the news (back then we had REAL journalist).

Once Aunt Millie finished with her chores in the kitchen, she would often challenge us to a game of Chinese checkers or regular checkers. There were no holds barred when we played her, she played to win, and we often times did not walk away victors. (We were part of the “if you don’t win, you don’t get a trophy” generation. How DID we survive?

Uncle Jim would be sitting in his rocking chair, corn cob pipe ablaze, listening to the news, (tv or radio) enjoying the moment and talking with Mom and Dad, discussing the news coming over the talk boxes. We were all happy. Life was good, at the farm……

Trail Cam

When I was a kid, and we used to hunt on the farm, there was plenty of game on the farm. Rabbits, pheasant, quail, and squirrel. Over the years, farming practices, and the fact that many farmers removed any and all trees from their property to make more room for crops, the wildlife population has dwindled quite a bit. You will see a rabbit once and a while, and it is not out of the question to see or hear a quail or pheasant. It is a treat to hear or see a quail or pheasant in the area.

Today, wildlife has taken on a different look. Lately, there has been an uptick in rabbits, I think the fact that we let the pasture grow now has helped with that. Today though, it is more common to see deer, a lot of hawks, and an occasional heron in the area. Of course, there are plenty of raccoons, and with the increased deer population, there are plenty of coyote running around the place as well. I haven’t seen any, but there have been reports of bobcats in the area as well. What a treat that would be to see one trotting across the field.

A couple of years ago, I was walking the creek when I saw something really odd for the area. It was obvious that there was a beaver on the farm. Not once in my lifetime, had I ever heard of a beaver in the area. I was excited to say the least. I did some poking around, and I found the beaver den, and after more investigation, I found the dam “Bucky” was building. It was hiding, right in plain sight at the south edge of the whistle/bridge over the creek. Now my excitement is growing.

I started to read up on beavers and their impact on the environment. Most of their impact is actually quite good. The negative in farming area’s is the potential for flooded fields. More reading, and I discovered ways to help control that so it would not be a problem downstream. It was going to be my plan to put those measures into place in the creek, so that we could let the beaver maintain his home and hopefully we would get a little beaver pond along the creek bed. It was all very exciting for me and the rest of my family. I had all kind of plans on documenting the beaver and his work as he worked forward.

Part of my efforts to document Bucky would be to collect pictures via a trail cam mounted close to his den so that I could catch him coming and going. The camera would also catch activity along the creek bank to see what other wildlife was hanging around the farm.

It didn’t take long to see that one of a couple of things happened with Bucky. Either he was trapped in the area, or he decided there was too much human activity in the area so he moved on. Maybe a coytote got him. Who knows.

Never did get any pictures of Bucky. We did however, get some pics of some of the other critters wandering around by the creek. It looks like an otter or maybe mink, some raccoons and one of the most beautiful coyotes I have ever seen.

On a positive note, there is more wildlife in the area, and with any luck, we will do our part to see that population grow, at least on the farm…

What Blizzard?

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and before you know it, it will be New Year’s eve. The Big blizzard never happened, at least in our neck of the woods. Yes it got very cold, and the wind was horrible. The snow, just a dusting. While I am glad that people were basically able to get to their holiday destinations, I am disappointed that the snow was so weak.

There was enough to make it a “White Christmas” maybe an inch or so (a little more than a dusting as I described earlier). It is all gone now, today the temps are close to 50 and we will have more of the same thru the New Year weekend. For somebody that loves snow, a bit disappointing. Hopefully we will have a good snowfall in January.

I didn’t even try to go to the farm to see how it looked with the light snow, with the wind, there probably was not much laying around.

Before the Christmas 2022 Blizzard

This image courtesy of my brother in law, John Luparell

For the first time in I can;t count the years, we are poised to have a white Christmas. I am all for that, I really like snow. The problem is the timing. This year, the “blizzard” is poised to hit us right smack dab in the middle of the Christmas travel season. There will be a lot of people who will not be able to get to their holiday destinations. For them, I am sorry, but I am looking forward to a Christmas with snow. Maybe in that sense, a normalcy may be working it’s way back into the season.

In anticipation of a weekend of no power and frigid temps, my brother in law, John Luparell and I headed down to the farm to grab my generator, just in case. The day could not have been better. It was sunny, there was absolutely no wind (that is so rare), and the temps were comfortable.

We loaded up the generator, and a space heater to bring back home (yep, I am getting old, and I need help lifting generators and space heaters into the back of my truck. John isn’t much younger than me, but between the 2 of us, we could muster up enough strength to load both items into the back of the truck, and then into my garage. Now we wait and see.

While we were at the farm, we decided to take advantage of the nice day, and we did some walking around back in the pasture. We went up and down the creek, I saw signs of critters at the creek, paw prints from raccoons, and I thought maybe an otter or maybe a mink, sliding into the water, to swim away from the danger of 2 old farts, walking the creek bank.

John discovered a couple of old bottles back along the fence, I am thinking they were from the early 60’s, but they were cool, so John took them home to my sister Kim. Nobody has said anything about them getting broke over his head, so she must have liked them. A little cleanup, and they will probably make a nice vase. Pretty sure that at one time, those glass vessels sit in the pantry of Aunt Millie’s kitchen. Pretty cool.

Now, the big question is; Will the Christmas 2022 Blizzard happen? Or will it be another all hype weather event, with a lot of “cold air”? Time will tell, I just know that the snowblower is ready, We have plenty of ice melt, and are as prepared as we can be, so we just wait and see. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all. I hope that the coming year is a good one for all. Don;t forget to follow my blog so you can continue to see my updates, and thanks for visiting.