Bunny here at the keyboard sharing a little adventure and history I learned this weekend.
This weekend turned out to be one of those weekends where there were a lot of human commitments and not a lot of time for canine adventure. You might have heard Mom talking about how sad she is that the farm where she grew up is not going to be a part of her family for much longer. While Mom and Dad were over at Grandpa’s house to visit with some family who are here visiting for a little while, they learned that the farm is going to be sold this Friday. Mom has been stopping out to take some pictures there and enjoy some memories from when she was a human puppy lately.
One of the things she has really been wanting to do is to share it with some of us dogs. Grandpa has always liked dogs, but Mom thinks that Stepgranny is not much of a dog fan and dogs aren’t invited in the house there, so when they go over, we usually stay at home. However, since nobody is living there anymore, Mom and Dad took me and Küster out to see it and to take a long walk around the lake and play.
I learned that the farm where Mom grew up is a special place.
Grandpa has lived there for a long time, about forty years, but before he got it, it was built by the Nauman family. Mom considers herself lucky to know a lot of the history about the place, and I have to admit that I thought a lot of it was pretty neat. The farm is almost one hundred years old.
The house was built in 1914. That’s before people had electricity in their houses or running water. Mom says that she’s not sure when they wired the house for electricity, but when she was young, they used to have to turn off all the lights if they wanted to use the popcorn popper or the microwave, or else they had to go down to the basement with a flashlight and flip the breaker switch. Later, after Mom grew up and moved out, Grandpa redid the wiring so that you didn’t have to live in the dark to have decent popcorn.
The crib was finished in 1919 and was the last of the original barns built on the property, although there was a Morton building added years later. There was a livestock barn, a regular barn, a brooder house (which Mom and Aunt J used as a tack room when they had their horses) and two chicken coops.
When Mom was just a human pup, a tornado blew through the farm and took out one chicken coop right in the middle of the property while Grandma was taking Mom to the basement. They never fixed it, just slowly hauled the old wood away and then when Mom was older, Grandpa finally tore down the foundation for it. I hear that it was a pretty exciting event. Mom said she never saw it hit, but does remember hearing the sound down in the basement. Grandpa had told Grandma for them to get to the basement, but she wasn’t hurrying and he ran in and got very mad. It hit just as they finally got downstairs to safety.
There also used to be an apple orchard there, but after eighty years, the trees began to die. Now there are none of them left. There were grape vines and another small orchard near the house, too, but the grape vines are long gone. Now there’s just a lone mulberry tree, although there used to be a stubborn peach tree and a few other mulberry trees there. It was a farm that fully sustained the original family that lived there.
While Mom was growing up, there were sheep and chickens there when she was young, and then as she got older, they had horses that they showed. They kept a vegetable garden, but the farm was a hobby instead of a way of life. They didn’t depend on it to get by, just for a little extra.
The barns are still in pretty good shape, too.
One of the things that I think is neat is that you can still see how things worked in the old corn crib. There was a set of buckets on a pulley that went through a trough in the floor where they would shovel the corn in. They would pull out the drive shaft attach it to a belt drive tractor and scoop all the corn up into the upper parts of the barn where it would dry. Mom says that she’s glad she didn’t have to do all that work.
It’s her favorite barn, though, because at the very top, there’s a window in the cupola and a board seat that runs across. When she was little, she used to climb up there all the time and watch the view. She says you could see for miles, across the valley and down over the Illinois river. She used to hide up there during family gathering games of hide and seek and only Aunt J could find her. Lots of times they hid up there together and had a good laugh while they watched the other kids try to find them.
Her plans to climb up there one last time this weekend were thwarted, however, when she got to the top of the second set of ladders and the whole top ledge was covered with raccoon poop. Grandpa used to climb up there when Mom was young and shoot the raccoons because they were really destructive, but she said it has been a long time since he was up there. She said she’s not afraid of heights, but she was not going through all that mess. I guess we all have our limits.
It was neat to see a piece of history that’s also a piece of Mom’s history.
I love seeing things that have history to them, and it was even neater seeing some that has direct ties to someone who’s lived there. There are a lot of beautiful old farms in our area, but sadly, a lot them aren’t being taken care of and are falling into ruin. The barns and house there have undergone some changes over the years. There used to be an eighty year old apple orchard, but in the last ten years, all of the trees died. That was something that couldn’t be helped, but Grandpa has taken good care of it for a long time. He says he’s happy to be a townie now, but we know a part of his heart is there, too. He wants someone else who can take care of it to take charge of it now. We hear that the new family has some Labrador Retrievers who are going to enjoy running through the old pastures and creek. The farm has always been best with a dog or two around, so we are happy to hear that news.
Küster and I had a great time sniffing around out there and walking around the lake.
The Black Tornado ran around and burned off some pent up energy. We walked out along the trail and enjoyed watching the sunset over the lake. Mom says that when she was about four years old, they built the lake out in the cornfield. This wasn’t her family, but they were allowed to walk out in the cornfield. She and Grandpa used to go out every night to see the progress on the lake. One afternoon, she decided to go out and look at it by herself, but her shoe got stuck in the clay mud and came off. When she tried to pull her shoe free, she fell down and her pants got stuck to the mud. She called and called, but Grandpa was on the lawn mower and he couldn’t hear her. When he finally got done mowing, he looked around for her, but couldn’t see her. When he finally found her, she got in big trouble for going to the lake alone. It’s hard to imagine Mom as a human pup who got into trouble, but she did.
Of course, we dogs didn’t have any trouble with getting stuck out there at all. We just enjoyed all the good smells and the time we got to spend together with Mom and Dad. Seeing the place where Mom spent so much time growing up was a lot of fun. I can see why she grew up to enjoy sharing historic places with us, and why she turned out to be such a daredevil. Climbing up in those barns is not for the faint of heart. I’m also glad that while we live in an old house, we have a lot of modern amenities, like air conditioning. If we lived on the farm, we wouldn’t have nearly as much time for adventures, because we’d be working on taking care of it a lot. Just between you and me, I like living in town and going on adventures and having climate control a lot. I’m glad that Mom lived the history lesson and shared it with me so that I don’t have to. We hounds enjoy our creature comforts, after all.