About five years ago I introduced Signal readers to my husband’s family in Minnesota by way of a letter from their dairy farm. Although not pertinent to life in the SCV, I feel that my husband’s mother’s cousin is just as eloquent a writer as anyone published and therefore worth reading. I’ve italicized my favorite parts as a reminder to all of what we are missing on this part of the world. If you weren’t here for his last installment, take heart, he has made some notes for us this past December of current farm, and life, conditions:
Season’s greetings. I hope everything is well in your lives. We have Samantha’s picture on the refrigerator along with her other two pictures. She looks to be growing up whether she wants to or not.
We had another busy year here just trying to keep up with farmwork which is a seven day a week job. Everything is full of livestock which takes all day to tend to—feeding, milking and all of that.
We had a nice fall this year. One of the nicest ones in quite awhile. I thought with all of the hurricanes in the gulf that we might be in for a stretch of wet weather which would make harvest difficult but it never happened. The soybean crop was the best we ever had yielding between 55-60 bushes per acre. Corn wasn’t bad either. It was on the dry side this summer so we were somewhat surprised. The corn went about 170 bushels an acre.
The weather stayed nice through the end of November. Then old man winter showed up and froze things up in a hurry. We went from temperatures above freezing to down below zero in a couple of days. After dealing with gelled fuel lines, frozen waterers and everything else I grew tired of winter in a hurry.
Ice fisherman are starting to fish on lakes which has had from 1-6 inches of ice. In a normal winter it will get about 2 feet of ice on the lakes.
There have been some bald eagles around lately. They are some of the last birds to migrate. Thirty years ago they were a rare sight. Now they are quite common.
Warmed up to about 20 degrees today which felt real nice. We are supposed to have nice weather for Christmas which will be about 30 degrees. Only about 100 more days of winter left.
There were about three other people at your grandmother’s (Ellen) funeral that weren’t family or relatives. The wind blew hard out of the east which was a prelude to the ten inches on snow which fell the next day.
At the cemetery some people stayed in their cars because of the cold wind while the rest of us huddled in the tent erected by the funeral home. Afterwards I walked through part of the cemetery to the older part where the ground hadn’t been disturbed for burials for many years. Some of the gravestones were dotted with lichens; the trees were older and the grass looked as thought it was seldom tread upon. Some of the people, such as children, probably died before their time while others had disappointed shiftless heirs by their longevity. But they were all the same now in neat rows; being so old that they were no longer remembered by any living people.
Elmer (Ed’s grandfather) has been gone since 1986. My how time goes by. His bronze marker, donated by the Veterans, made note that he shoed horses for the army.
I remember asking Elmer on different occasions if he ever thought about going to visit France. The answer was always the same. A polite but resolute “No” with no comment. In his twilight years when he and Ellen were on a fishing outing, a young boy sang a song form WWI that started out “Over hill, over dale we will hit the dusty trail…” Later he recalled how the French children sang that song while columns of wounded soldiers moved by. Perhaps, in ways, he had never left France. Looking back I like to think Elmer went out of his way to be nice to people. Never once did I hear him shout or raise his voice although I’m sure there was some time in his life he did.
When we left the cemetery we took the gravel road that went to the hard surface road that took us home. We changed clothes and then went back outside to tend livestock. I hope you have a nice Xmas and that Samantha has a good year in school.