Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Walk Around the Block: Part Three

As I begin to head back east, the Melody farm continues on the left as I crest a hill and go part way down where it then switches via a fencerow to the Ford farm. Not surprisingly for those times, Sam Ford married Nancy Melody who used to live just across the field from Sam. He farmed his farm and helped Nancy's father farm his farm for many years before eventually Nancy inherited after her parent's deaths. Sam farmed both farms for a while before my father began farming for the Fords when he was getting his start into farming.

Sam and Nancy are elderly in all my memories, Sam with an oxygen tank connected to him at all times due to emphysema from a cigarette addiction. They had a 3-D alligator puzzle made from wooden blocks that I always used to play with when visiting. Sam always kept a sharp lookout out the bay window overlooking the road and could always recite how long it had been since I had walked this way last and who had been visiting who further down the road. This road eventually swings into Missouri and becomes an unmaintained roadway so there isn't much traffic except by those who live on it.

Sam died and Nancy moved to a doublewide trailer in a nearby town. Their farmhouse grew neglected and eventually had to be burned down and the remains buried. Before doing so we hired a tree moving company to move the 30 foot sugar maple tree in their front lawn to our back lawn so that we could try to save it from the scorching heat of the house fire and also to enjoy the beauty during the fall. The tree didn't make survive the winter and our lawn still has a slight hump where we filled in the root ball hole after we sawed it up for firewood. We continued farming the Ford farm until Nancy died a half dozen years later and her son sold it to my parents.

Just past the Ford farm on the south side of the road is a deep ditch. At the bottom of the ditch now almost completely buried in silt are the remains of a fertilizer truck bed. My father had hired a fellow who was notorious for how jury-rigged his equipment was to haul fertilizer for our farm one fall. The fertilizer guy was trying to pass our neighbor's tractor pulling in a wagon load of grain and got a little too far onto the soft shoulder and his who vehicle was swept into the ditch. The truck tractor was winched out of the ditch and salvaged for parts but the bed was just left behind. I remember the story every time I walk by and try to imagine what it must be like to ride a truck thirty feet down to the bottom of the ditch.

On up near the top of the hill on the south side of the road lays the Wellen farm. This was the first farm purchased by my father when he got his start into farming. There used to be an old farmhouse there too but it was salvaged for lumber, burnt and buried, the demise of most vacant farm buildings. There are a dozen large oak trees that act as a tombstone for where the Wellen's used to live and nothing else. For awhile, what used to be the back lawn of the house was a location for twenty or thirty hives of bees to collect the nectar of the plentiful white clover all around. The honey extracted from it was almost white, very sweet, and left no after taste in your mouth.

On the very south side of the Wellen farm, the land drops off slightly into a ravine forming a large bowl shaped depression in the land. I've often thought that someday if I were to build a house on my family's farm, it would be at the top of the bowl on the north side facing south where I could survey my 'kingdom' in solitude. I could also pick morel mushrooms to my hearts content in the little wooded draw that would be my front yard.

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