Posted on September 30, 2020
My grandmother was both a woman of her times and a woman far ahead of even our times. For example, today’s electric cars would be a yawn for her; she rode in them “before the war.”
World War I, that is. Grandma (her given name was Ruth) was born in 1902 and lived 86 active […]
Posted on July 29, 2020
Mid-July was always summer’s sweet spot on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth.
With June’s rush of sweaty work—wheat harvest, straw baling, laying corn by, cultivating soybeans, and weed spraying—finally complete and before another cutting of alfalfa was ready, mid-July slipped in with treats like fresh peaches, sweet corn, and juicy garden tomatoes.
Mid-July also […]
Posted on April 8, 2020
My father wasn’t stoic. Instead, his temperament was one of acceptance. He simply accepted the fact that he wasn’t in complete control of most things on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth.
Sure, he was boss over everything in sight: hundreds of acres, 100 dairy cows, five farmhand sons, three hired men, and his unpredictable, […]
Posted on February 27, 2020
The onset of a deep chest cold recently pushed me to wander the aisles of rural America’s drug store, Dollar General, for any cure that might halt the hacking. Three days and three placebos later, my hack weakened to a wheeze. Time, and the lovely Catherine’s chicken soup, did the trick.
Had I been […]
Posted on January 8, 2020
The Christmas tree was a scrub cedar hacked from the edge of the woods that bordered the farm. Big-bulbed lights, strung in barber pole fashion, generated almost as much heat as the nearby wood stove. Yellowed Christmas cards, saved over the years and perched like doves in the untrimmed branches, served as ornaments.
“I believe this […]
Posted on November 15, 2019
The first obvious sign of the season-long flood is a perfectly level, three-foot high ring of dried mud on the machine shed’s siding. Nature put it there and, in time, will likely wash it away.
Across the road, 100 feet behind a noticeably tilting mailbox, stands the empty, sagging farmhouse of my youth. It […]
Posted on October 16, 2019
In the early morning fog the other day, I heard a claw hammer’s tap, tap, bam, bam, bam, boom drive a nail into its place for who knows how many years. A moment later, another six, clear, sharp notes cut through the fog and another nail was set for, maybe, a century or more.
Posted on September 12, 2019
Sometime in mid-August, well after fair season and just before corn silage season, my brothers and I endured the hand-me-down season on the southern Illinois dairy farm of our youth.
It was just as you suspect. One morning some weeks before school began, my mother watched as we tried on our next older brother’s clothes to […]
Posted on April 17, 2019
On an April Sunday afternoon a year ago, the last ancestral connection to the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth was severed when my mother died quietly and peacefully.
Her passing, quickly followed by her sister’s death, means that this Easter will be the first Easter in the last 64 that I will not be […]
Posted on February 15, 2019
There was no “shutdown”—not in the U.S. government sense, anyway—on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth.
Come to think of it, there was never a showdown, hoedown, lockdown, or shakedown either. There were, however, machinery breakdowns, endless sundowns and, every now and then, a letdown.
But shutdowns? Not one, not even a “partial” one.
In fact, if anyone […]