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I Never Went to Market series

By Staff | Feb 3, 2012

Doug Clough, second from right in middle row, said this family photo with the white barn in background is his favorite. The barn was built by his grandfather, Charles Clough, circa 1930s.


Farm News staff writer

(Editor’s note: This is an introductory article to a monthly feature called “I never went to market.” Staff writer Doug Clough, of Ida Grove, a self-described city boy, will be spending some work time on area farms and writing about his experiences.)

IDA GROVE – My favorite family photo is one taken in front of a white barn Grandpa Clough built in the early 1900s. Many of his barns and farrowing houses still stand in Hardin and Grundy counties, most between Union and Whitten along the Iowa River.

My grandfather was a carpenter who, according to my father, headed up a poor family in a poor town.

Doug Clough, staff writer for Farm News, lives in Ida Grove.

Charles Clough did rough carpentry and finish work when it was a tough man’s job, a man who could build post-and-beam, wood-pegged, joint construction. Even then, his skill and toughness were often only rewarded with another neighbor’s skill as barter during The Great Depression and then World War II.

Even though I have no farm experience, writing for Farm News has taught me about the utility and importance of the multi-line farmer’s barn and why, once built, they needed to last.

Grandpa Clough, during the long Iowa unemployable winters, built farrowing houses for the area’s hog farmers.

My brothers and I were reared in northeast Des Moines, which may as well have been New York City in regard to our connection to Iowa’s agriculture.

And, like seeds of a dandelion, all of we brothers found our homes in different places than were our roots.

For my own part, I took a teaching job in Ida Grove, becoming part of the town with a strong farming history. I’m still in Ida Grove 21 years later, although now I’m a customer service manager for a local manufacturer.

In addition to being a father and husband, I am also a columnist, feature and travel writer, and staff writer for Farm News.

It occurred to me a time or two that this gig as a writer for a rural publication is a gift I never realized I wanted until I got it.

Frankly, the path was not scripted for me. I was not raised in a rural setting, I didn’t go to school to become a writer, and – just like the second pig in the The Little Piggy rhyme – I never went to market, I just stayed home.

In fact, the only connection I have to farming is that I ended up marrying a farmer’s daughter.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing about barns, farm cooks, Century Farms, and other aspects of Iowa farming. Now I want to experience them.

Therefore, I’m asking Cherokee, Woodbury, Plymouth, Ida, and Crawford County farmers to invite me to work with them for a few hours.

Afterward, I will write about the experience as a feature for this publication.

A few things you should know about my invitation:

First, I enjoy trying new things and meeting new people.

Second, your invitation can have anything to do with agribusiness. It does not have to be directly working with livestock or crops, although that’s where the idea originated.

Third, I’m not a farmer, but I’d like to think that I have the good sense of one; so I may turn down anything that I am not qualified to do without formal training. Safety first, period.

You can contact Doug Clough at douglasclough@gmail.com

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