this is not just my story its an american story, the blight of the 20th century american farm. with the passing of my aunt, i come to look at the fabric of my family cloth deteriorate. the quilt which at one time finely crafted and cared for seems to be loosing the stitching pulling away at the seams. what once held american families together on the farm, hard work, crops, livestock, profits has begun to see the fall. it started long before now.
once a profitable living, our family dariy farm started to see it's decline in the eighties. its hard not to have hard feelings for the government that most likely pressured my grandfather into using fertilizers and pesticides. its hard not to dislike the seed companies that promised a great harvest and boosting milk production. its hard to put a finger on what exactly i am sad about. but one thing remains a fact. the farm will be sold, my memories will become even more distorted with time.
our family once so closely knit and proud in our heritage deteriorated like i never would have forseen. my own absence, mostly out of need, happens to a lot of rural kids. i moved to the city to get an education, and ended up remaining there to start my family. now displaced i no longer am near my childhood farm, nor do i have the family to help raise my children as farm families once did.
the best i can paint the picture is of a bustling farm in the summertime complete with flower beds abundant with flowers, one of my grandmother's pass times.( maybe this is why my cousin now owns a flower shop with her husband.) the farm alive with activity in the dusty clouds kicked up by the unstoppable tractors, hauling endless wagons loaded with sweet smelling hay, or baked golden straw. the cool of the barn during the heat of midday, the oven like tempatures if you wandered up to the hay loft. the rolling hills of the pastures i used to run. in winter things were almost as wonderful, dare i say magical. the frigid tempatures remained outside once you were in the barn with all the cows that gave off their heat. we played in the vacant pens in forts my uncles created with bales of hay. we would return home to our mothers full of burrs in our hair. outside the snowdrifts became our castles, and our sleds our quick getaway.
all in the shadow of the hard work of my uncles and grandfather and the support or their wives. my aunt was probably the biggest, hardest, female contributor to the farm. she loved my uncle and his family, and she believed in what he did. in her death it is time to accept this legacy's close. the cows were sold a little less than ten years ago, and sent to puerto rico. they tried their hand in beef, renting out the land, renting the farmhouse. my husband even entertained the thought of trying to take the farm on, but the task is to daunting the land too tanted for the likes of our organic mindset.
gone are the days of huge family gatherings under the roof of my grandparents farmhouse or under the canopy of trees in their front yard (which took me three hours to mow on a riding mower). i worry that i am not passing wonderful cherished heritage on to my children. what i can pass on is community, the arts, my love and ability for the craft of weaving, visiting the farm as much as i can with them, teaching them as much as i can about nature life in general. i just wish my backdrop was like the rolling hills of green, and not the concrete that lies outside my doorstep, maybe that is why i plant the unruly gardens i do.