Saturday, September 28, 2013

On the Farm

Cousin Pat
June 23, 2013

One day and two nights, that was all the time we could allot for our visit. Far from ending our day, the conclusion of the services in the cemetery signaled the start of another round of visiting. It took only moments to change out of our duds so we could go to The Farm. As in dairy, not CIA.

Jack and Patrick
From my earliest years, The Farm was a place of mystery and wonder. My own first visit took place at the age of seven, with Grandpa and Grandma as my tour guides. At that time, my cousins seemed vastly old and mature compared to me, practically geezers, though the youngest was only twelve.

My kids were 5, 2, and 6 months on their first trip, and our cousins hadn't seen Devon since then, until he turned up for the funeral at the age of 12, and almost as tall as I am. Jack and I were able to stop by overnight a few years back, unfortunately with no children.

Jack went straight to the barn. Having lived his early years on a dairy farm himself, he feels right at home there. You’d never know the cousins were his only by marriage, since they all bonded immediately the very first time they laid eyes on each other. The rest of us paid a visit to the old homestead first, even Mom on her broken foot.

By this time, she had crutches, not that it was much of an asset while picking her way through near-jungle conditions to the abandoned site of Grandma’s birth. The original house, the one Grandma kept trying to walk to in her later years, had burned down long ago. Another house had been built on the same foundation, just large enough to accommodate her brother, Philip. After his death, it was no longer used. The old barn, which burned at the same time as the first house, still lies in a delightful ruin, full of exciting artifacts.

The Old Farmstead

Burned-out Old Barn

Our cousins' barn, which did not burn down, remains the hub of The Farm, and the family. It looks the same as when I first saw it 34 years ago. 

The Barn
Probably it looks the same as when Mom saw it never-mind-how-many years ago. More than 34. The descendants of Tina the Cow still roam the pastures, and come in twice each day for milking. A local cheese company buys all the milk from The Farm, and many others nearby. Our cousins grow their own hay and other crops, even producing their own maple syrup. It’s all wonderful, but the best part of The Farm is our family.
L-R: Me, Patsy, Pat, Cora,
Devon and Jack, Mom,
Caleb, Damon, Tina,
Peter, Tiggy, Harold, Dad,
and Dorothy. This was
only a small part of the family
that we saw.

We were up late that night, trying to crowd just a few more hours of visiting in. There just wasn’t enough time to say everything we wanted. I can’t wait to go back! Plus, I didn't get nearly enough pictures of my cousins.

The Trip Home

…was much less eventful than the trip out. No thunderstorms, no flat tires, no caskets in the trailer. We took a boat ride at the Wisconsin Dells on our way out, which was also my idea. Besides liking the Dells, I thought it would be a good chance to decompress a bit after the emotional week we’d all had, and visiting a neat place we’d been with Grandpa and Grandma seemed like it would be perfect. And it was.

I’d been working on photos to enter in the fair for the entire year, but on the trip to Wisconsin I greatly expanded my stock. Watch for the fair blog post to see the results. I’ll tell you right now that Tina got more ribbons than I did, and I’m fine with that.


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