Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Walk Around the Block: Part Two

As I walk south, the 80-acre Well's field ends at the Miller farm which my parents bought back in the mid eighties. The Millers were another large Amish family that packed up and moved to Wisconsin with many others in the area. Partly it was for new opportunities and partly it was to get new blood into the genetic line as most of their children were closing upon the marrying age. The Millers, Zimmermans and other area Amish families have been marrying each other for several generations and it was time to break it up.

Just over a dip in the terrain to the west on the Miller farm is a 2.5-acre farm pond that used to be the site of many of our Abbey family outings to fish, canoe and roast weenies over bonfires. If the summer was particularly dry, we often celebrated the 4th of July over there to prevent a spark from setting the countryside on fire. The farm pond contains some of the biggest bass in the state of Iowa, who were seined from another smaller pond a mile away one winter before it froze dry. It used to have some lunker catfish as well but I haven't laid into one of them for about twenty years and suspect that they died out for some reason.
I always enjoy farming the contoured hills of the Miller farm during the spring and fall months for the wealth of wildlife that live among the many wooded draws. If you make a pass on the lowest contour below the bottom terrace and don't see at least fifty white tail deer, a couple dozen pheasants, a brace of fine turkey and countless rabbits, you are doing so with your eyes closed.

The outbuildings and barns of the Millers have long ago been torn down and sold, burned or salvaged. The old farmhouse was for years the storage center for the Abbey honeybee business but after someone stole most of the extra processing equipment and sold the metal for scrap, we burned down what was left and buried it. Now all that remains are several old oak trees, characteristic of where old farms stood of that era and a overgrown fruit orchard where we sometimes pick some apples or cherries if the worms and birds don't beat us to them.

Another quarter mile down the road and on the east side, there are more trees signifying a farm once stood there. This farm is the Melody farm that my parents bought in the late 80's but have farmed since the 50's. There was an old barn there when I was very little because I have vague memories of it but it has been gone for so long that I can't remember any of the details. In a few more years, I will probably begin to doubt if my memories are even true. There is the remains of another farm across the road that my parents recently bought a few years ago but I am not familiar with it other than I know the previous owner who was a pallbearer at the funeral I went too last week.

The road, perfectly flat up to this point begins to dip down towards a creek bottom where it T-intersects with another gravel road. One year when I was around ten years old, I wouldn't have been able to make this walk without swimming. The creek some 20 feet in elevation below the intersection was over 30 feet higher than normal and rising fast enough that you constantly had to be moving back in order to keep your shoes dry. Other than that one time, I've never seen it over the roadway.

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