Tuesday, August 01, 2006

1,000 Acres: A Farm Tale (Part Four)


Part One
Part Two
Part Three

My dad, Sam, was born in 1934, and his sister Carol came along in 1938. Aunt Edith, in her sixties, married and moved uptown with her husband. Her house, which had been quite the showplace back in the days when all four children were living at home on the thousand acres, was closed up and later rented out.

When Aunt Edith died, her 200 acres, plus 75 acres she had inherited from her mother, was left to William and her other two living nephews. (His twin, Richard, an insulin dependent diabetic--one of the first to learn to use injectable insulin--had died at age 38.) William had been managing her farm for her for years without pay, and she had raised him like a son, so this 3-way split caused tension in the family. The other nephews wanted to sell their land, but they put a high price on it and William wasn't sure he could afford it. Once again, his father-in-law said, "You can't afford not to." William told the nephews he would buy them out, and a few days later, one of them came to tell him they had decided to raise their price. My normally mild-mannered grandfather drew himself up to his full six feet plus and firmly told him, "No, we agreed on a price and that's the price it's going to be." And with that, he acquired another 275 acres to add to his and Richard's 200--nearly half the original 1,000.

When their son Sam married, they gave him an acre in the woods, about 1/8th of a mile from their farmhouse, on which he built a ranch house in the 60's--and that's where I grew up, in the middle of those 475 acres. It is mostly planted in corn, beans, oats or wheat, though a dozen or so acres are wooded. The only animals left on the farm by the time I was born were some beef cattle, but my brothers and I had dogs, cats, rabbits, a pony, and several 4-H calves or cows. We played in the barns and in the woods and in the creek, and we could always stop in at Grandma's for a snack and a story or two. Now I take my kids to visit there several times a year. Until the last year (when, at 94, she just hasn't had the energy for the younger ones), their great-grandma has always liked to have them down one at a time. She loves to listen to them talk. She always gives them a snack, and a story or two....

6 comments:

Liquidoxology said...

Are you going to edit this tale for publication?

tonia/sparrow said...

so what happens to the 475 acres now?...will it stay in the family?

At A Hen's Pace said...
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Donna Boucher said...

Gee...that sure looks like Wisconsin.

Robin said...

I'm (selfishly) glad I didn't begin reading this story until all four parts were written! I could read it in its entirety. The art of "story" is amazing...beautiful! We all have ours to tell, don't we? What a precious legacy to pass along to your own children (and enjoyed the pictures, too...several "thousand words" worth).

At A Hen's Pace said...
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