I was recently asked to present a 1 hour talk about farm stories at Gold Old Days in Viking on the third weekend of August. One hour takes a lot of talk so I thought I would start framing the conversation in this week’s column.
I am 52 years old so many of my farm stories start at a very nice time in farming. The mid-seventies would be a rich source of stories about farm life for me. This was a time of expansion and high commodity prices. It was also a time when a lot of people graduated from high school and went right to farming. The man of the house would farm and the lady of the house kept the home and raised children, although she might have taken some off-farm work too. It was a good time to be a kid as you were the focus of your families’ attention. Today, it seems more of the external activities take precedence over the family but it was not always so.
Many of my farm stories focus on farm animals. I have been to farms as an adult that have no animals and it seems so sterile. There’s always machinery and buildings at these farms but there’s nothing alive and causing trouble like a few animals. I grew up with dairy and beef cattle, dogs and cats-lots of cats. My cattle memories are mostly feeding the animals or taking care of them in some way. I really love these activities however my memories of milking cows are buried like a bad dream. I did not like milking cows and would constantly try to figure out the average time to milk a cow so I could extrapolate a time at which we would finish. It was easy to like animals as my mom and dad liked them too. Dad had a regular feed route for the cats as the tame cats that lived downstairs and the wild upstairs cats all got warm milk and sometimes dog food.
It would be difficult for me to share farm stories without nostalgia. Perhaps this nostalgia even colors my stories with a brighter hue than they really deserve. I mean many of these stories happened when a person was younger, more naive and less stained by life’s occasional unhappy occurrences. It’s not that hard to believe all was well at such a time. Whenever I wax nostalgic, I always remind myself that the these stories are framed in a time before a lot of things that I like such as: the I-phone, the internet and my beloved electronic fuel injection. Still though, I think most of these stories would still be happy memories if played out against the background of current times. Perhaps I purposefully play them out as I live my life in accordance with many of these stories although I am not sure they would naturally occur in today’s culture. Perhaps elements of my life are like a diorama of a past life that would not exist without my own efforts and mental energy.
I guess farm stories may go deeper than just two wheel-drive tractors, the quarter-section farm and softball on Sundays. Please join me at Viking Good Old Days in Viking as we go deep on the stories we all remember from the farm.