Making Hay
Week of November 23rd, 2003 | The weather was cold and rainy.

Our farm, August 2002.

Our farm, August 2002.

Hi there! I hope you had a good week. I had a very busy one. Dad and I are moving sow huts inside of the barns. We already have 8 litters of pigs born in the large barn. We continue to do maintenance jobs to prepare for the winter season. While we did some of these fix up projects around the farm this past week, it made me think about what this farm looked like many years ago and how it has changed.

Iowa was founded in 1846. Our home place, section 27 of Chickasaw County, Iowa, was first inhabited by non-native people in December of 1855. Pioneers built on this land, but the buildings were either burned or torn down. Our existing house is the oldest building on our farm today. It was built sometime in the 1880s. The existing barn and granary was built in the 1890s. A windmill was built in the center of our yard in the 1880s. Dad can remember taking the windmill down in the 1950s. My grandfather purchased this farm in March of 1939. That same year, he built a silo right next to the barn.

Many people lived on our farm before my grandfather purchased it. The United States government, in the 1850s, sold 80 acres of land for $100. Our home was one of them. Back then, a hundred dollars was a lot of money. Today, 80 acres can be sold for an average of $160,000. Grandpa built many buildings on our farm. In the 1940s he built a wood machine shed, an addition to our barn, a chicken house (the small barn that we have sows farrow in during the winter), corncribs, and many more small buildings.

In the 1960s, Grandpa built a cattle shed. The same shed is still in use. Dad and Grandpa worked together to build the hog floors in 1974. It was a very wet year and they had many troubles with the cement. Cement trucks got stuck and were pulled out with tractors. In 1978, Dad and Mom purchased the farm. In 1980, Dad built a machine shed right next to the cattle shed. Also that year, Dad tore down the corncribs in the yard and built another machine shed. In 1982, Dad built a silo. (We tore the silo down this past year because we no longer use it). In 1986, Dad tore down grandpa's silo that he built in 1939. He built a shop there instead, which is still being used today.

My family made many improvements and building projects in the 1990s. One of the major projects was building the three hoop buildings and sorting area. This happened in 1997. I remember every step- even the mistakes!! In 1999, we built a fourth hoop building for hay storage. Today, Dad and I do many repairs and improve our yard for better use. Dad and I are planning on building another hoop building for a machine shed in the future.

Grandpa and Grandma had a very large garden behind the house. They provided food for their six children and themselves. Although our garden today is not as big as Grandma's was, Mom too, enjoys gardening and growing lots of good vegetables and fruits for the table. She has her garden in raised beds.

james journal pic

Our farm in the 1950s.

The first part of our house is the north section. It was built in the 1880s. In 1914, a basement was poured under that section. Then, sometime between 1914 and 1947, the south section was added on. We don't know exactly when this happened. This included our present living room, two additional upstairs bedrooms, kitchen, and office area. Our office used to be an open porch. This major addition used to be from another house down the road. In 1947, large timbers were used to raise the whole house and Grandpa dug a basement. The 1914 basement was very small and the addition built in 1947 by Grandpa made our basement much larger. The whole house, except our office, has a basement under it. Grandpa did not have any tools to dig the basement out with, except for a shovel and wheelbarrow. It took a long time for the project to be completed. While the house was resting on the timbers, a hurricane hit the Southern states. Strong winds blew everywhere, including Iowa. Debris flew in the yard and took a lot of work to clean up. During the hurricane of 1947, my grandparents worried that the house would blow off the timbers. It never did.

Mom and Dad got married in 1976. They moved into the house and Grandpa and Grandma moved to town. Mom and Dad haven't really changed the structure of the house over the years, except in 1980 they closed in the porch and turned it into an office. Of course, new shingles, doors, windows, siding, painting, and other maintenance have been done over the years.

I wonder what the landscape of the farm looked like years ago. It's a known fact that wheat was a dominant crop in this area when the pioneers first settled here in 1855. I don't know what all the previous owners raised for livestock and grew for crops. They probably worked very hard and had some tough times. Do you think they ever asked themselves what the place should or could look like after they were gone? During Grandpa's years of farming, he grew different crops, including; corn, soybeans, oats, hay, and pasture. They had chickens, dairy, beef cows, and pigs. Grandpa farrowed in pastures, just like we do. He had horses to do the work and in time was replaced with tractors. My Grandpa was proud of the land and his farm. He cared for it well. He received an Outstanding Conservation Award for the county back in 1956, which he was very proud of. He instilled good stewardship into his family, Dad included. The tradition continues.

Since 1992, my family and I have planted thousands and thousands of trees all around our farmyard and fields. We made such a large landscape design that you can see our trees and farm from a commercial jet. We even dug a pond in 1994. These practices are a real benefit to the environment. I hope to do the same as my Grandpa and my Dad. I want to treat the land and this farm with respect. Someday in the future, maybe there will be an individual that will ask the same question about what this farm used to look like before they settled here.

Farm Fact: Our family has chosen this as our farm motto..."We believe that we shall see the bounty of the Lord, in the Land of the Living." We hope our practices will fulfill this motto.

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