If you live on a farm, you know you didn’t move onto your place because of the house that was there.
You moved there because it had sufficient out buildings – or space for them – and land. For the farm woman, she just takes the house that comes with the farm and makes it work.
It’s a big job for the woman of the farm, transforming an old house into a home and her husband into a man of worldly culture, because the only culture he really knows is agriculture – farmer’s blow and all.
At one time my newly-married parents lived and worked in town briefly, which had to have bothered my father. He grew up on a farm just a few miles from town. His father had died just a few years earlier, and Dad waited for the chance to move out to the country and get his life going again after a setback like that at such a young age.
Finally, his ship came in, the trust of a land owner, a place to live in the country and some ground to farm close to where he was born.
It would seem that perhaps Dad was a little more excited about moving to the country than Mom was. (She could tell from the holes burned in the flooring on his way out to see the place and the apartment door still swinging long after he had raced out the door.)
Mom’s childhood started out in Boston, then brought her to Kansas City and finally to small-town Iowa. Apparently, Mom had never uttered the words, “I’m never going to marry a farmer” because, well … not growing up on a farm, she just didn’t know.
Some of us did know and said those very words, and still scrape manure from our shoes daily. Oh, the injustice of it all.
Mom told me about the time when she and her mother first went to see the house.
Her mother cried. Apparently, mouse holes and nests weren’t the dream she had for her daughter’s first real home of her own.
It was the house that raised all seven of us children, though it had been added onto a time or two as the family grew and Dad became a little more successful. Mom made it home.
Over the years some of my brothers bought into Dad’s farming dream, followed by a few of his grandsons as well. Dad and Mom had bought a little land here and there as they could, and because of that, and in that way, Dad’s legacy lives on – on the same land.
What began as a dream and a lot of hard work ended up being a lasting testament to his life. It doesn’t get more successful than that for a man who used to go hunting for dinner meat.
For the farm wife of then and today, success also comes through raising good, productive children. The best description I’ve heard came from an episode of the “Roseanne” show, where Roseanne Conner explained to her daughter’s home economics class that being a successful mother is like running a factory.
“If you send your kids out into the world and none of them get returned to you as defective, then you’ve done your job,” she joked.
We laugh, but oh, how my mother would agree.
Born in a farm house, Dad lived 77 years in and around the only community he ever called “home.” For him, the soil there was as close as he could get to heaven – until he actually arrived there himself. Now he rests in it. For him, it was a wonderful life.
The jury’s still out for that city-girl-turned-farmer’s-wife, though. She’s still pleading ignorance about knowing what she was getting into, and claims she didn’t read the fine print.
But at least her kids haven’t been returned to her as defective.
At least so far.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and at www.karenschwaller.com.
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