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Monday
Apr142014

Surrounded by the past

Often we see buildings and areas designated historical sites and preserved for future generations. In the country, we are surrounded by the past, as we see abandoned farms, and many buildings that have been preserved by their families for generations. I don't think we necessarily have more, but out here what we have is more noticable, since we're not surrounded by the city and people everywhere.

When I take pictures, I often go on public land which usually used to be farmland, with the original farmstead still there, though the buildings have been destroyed. There, I see the signs of the past all around me.

When I was growing up, we still had a creamery in town, and these types of cream cans were a familiar site as farmers hauled their milk in them.  Now, of course, it's stainless steel trucks that transport the milk.

This old boat was left near one of the local lakes. It was used to net rough fish to be sold.

This old hay mower was originally set up to be pulled with horses. The mower was ground driven.

The old cream can was filled with  rocks to try to balance the mower so too much weight didn't end up on the tongue.

All that's left of a sleigh wagon.  You can still make out the runners, but that's about it.

Sometimes, in the middle of a grove of trees,you can see some evidence of past lives. Here are some stones that were once a foundation. Once I saw these, I could see the raised area where the building had been.

All around us we hear whispers from the preceding generations. We see their handiwork in the buildings and we see the equipment that was once new, and the pride and joy of some family. I wonder if we'll leave some of the same reminders that we were here?

Thursday
Apr102014

Sections,Quarters,Eighties, and Forties

If you're around farmers and rural folks much, at least in my part of the country, sooner or later you'll hear something about a quarter, eighty, or section.  These are acre measurements, and describe the size of a piece of farmland.

Around here, everything is broken up into square miles. It's easy to say someplace is four miles north, since you can count the miles as you go by the intersections. One square mile is 640 acres, or one section. As you can figure, a quarter is one quarter of a section, or 160 acres, an eighty is 1/2 of a quarter, and a forty is 1/2 of an eighty.  One quarter is what most farmers started with when they settled, and with all the hand labor, it was plenty of land. Two quarters, or half of a section was a pretty good sized farm.  Using these terms, it's easy to figure out how much land is involved, and even where it is.  Land is legally described using these terms. For instance, the NW 1/4 of section 10 would tell you exactly what land you're talking about. You can get more specific, by saying the NE 1/4 of the NW 1/4 of section 10 to describe a forty.

Just like urban dwellers can send you to the correct spot with a street address or avenue, we can send everyone to the correct spot using the land descriptions.  We've gone to street addresses now, but we still use the land description for the majority of our directions.  When you're out in the middle of a field, you don't have a street address, so if you need an ambulance for instance, the NW 1/4 of section 8 will still get the ambulance there.

 

 Above is a platbook. You can see the sections marked out and numbered. I've blanked out the names of residents to protect their privacy, but each tiny black square represents a farm.  You can see how someone can find their way around the country pretty easily if they know the measurements used and especially if they have one of these platbooks. UPS drivers, insurance agents, and anyone else who does a lot of travel in the rural areas has one of these handy. Now, hopefully next time you're in the country in the midwest, you'll know how to get around a bit better.

Monday
Apr072014

Free at Last!

 

Finally, I gave up on winter and dropped the snowblower.

Thursday
Apr032014

No more wheat

About twenty years ago we stopped growing wheat. I think I’ve mentioned before that while I was growing up we grew at least eight different crops. Wheat, winter wheat, rye, flax, corn, barley, oats and sugar beets. Now, I don’t know where I would be able to sell most of these crops

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Monday
Mar312014

Hired men

All my life we've had hired men helping us on the farm. We've had many "part timers" that helped in the spring or fall as needed, and we've also had four full-time hired men over the years that were with us year around. It used to be that we could literally hire men off the street when we needed a little help, but those days are long gone. Fewer people have grown up on a farm,

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