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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Jan 7, 2011

The subject of time travel came up one morning at the breakfast table. This is what happens when I listen to AM talk radio during the night.

I asked my wife, “If you could go visit a place somewhere in time, where and when would it be?”

First, a person has to decide whether to visit the past or the future. My wife said she would go to the past and has no interest in the future because she does not want to know what is coming.

She said she would like to go back to her family’s grocery store and meat market in west central Minnesota during the early 1950s. That was when she was between 5 and 10 years old.

She said she would want me to come with her to see what her home was like, as her family lived above the store with her grandfather.

Rural towns during the first half of the 20th Century were wonderful places to call home.

I could understand why she would want to revisit that time.

Then it was my turn to answer. I resisted placing myself in Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865 so I could holler, “Look out, he’s got a gun!” as Abraham Lincoln’s theatre box was approached by John Wilkes Booth.

For me, it was difficult deciding whether to travel ahead in time or back.

I find the future intriguing. There are a few things I want to know.

I want to know what kind of farm equipment we will be using around 50 years from now.

It is 50 years since John Deere quit building two-cylinder tractors and look at the advancement since then.

Would I recognize a tractor that is in use 50 years from now?

Would the machine I have been waiting for finally be in production – the machine that harvests and dries the crop while it moves across the field?

In 50 years, that harvester will certainly be completely automated as is guides itself with no assistance from anyone. We can also be sure it will be huge.

How many acres does the typical farmer cover 50 years from now?

I would also check up on my son to see how he is doing with the farm. Will I recognize the place?

I probably will because if he is like me, some of the same tractors will still be in the same sheds.

Visiting the past would be just as desirable as I would like to see this farm as it was 150 to 200 years ago, just before it was settled.

I would want to cover those fields I know so well and see them back then when they had been undisturbed for centuries.

I would pick the month of August because during the winter months sometimes this place can be inhospitable even today.

Was this really a natural paradise, as some conservationists would have us believe, a place of tall grass for miles and miles with clear streams and rivers?

Considering this was a marshy area in need of drainage before it could be farmed, what did the native population of people do? How did they travel from place to place?

I would bet the mosquitoes were oppressive.

Like any trip, I would hope that I would return safely home to the present. I would not want to be stuck in the past or the future. Living in the present is adventure enough.

Okay, it is your turn. Right now, look at the person sitting near you and ask them where they would like to visit in the past or the future and why.

Their answer may surprise you.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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