Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The Ol' Family Farm
My family owns a farm in southern Ohio. It used to be a dairy farm, but now it is a cattle-raising farm. It's not big, just 300 acres. No one in my family has lived on it since my grandfather's generation. My grandfather grew up there. When we were kids, my grandfather loved to take us to visit the farm. We went into the barn to watch the milking machines working, and to play with the cats and kittens who lived there. He had us taste water out of the sulfur spring. He took us to the grain elevator and told us how it worked. He took us to visit the little family cemetery where many of our ancestors are buried. My grandfather grew up before there were interstate highways. He never drove on them, preferring county roads and back roads everywhere he went. We learned so much from our grandfather.
Our farm has been in my family for many generations, since 1811. It was a land grant to Joseph Brown, my great-great-great-great (not sure how many greats) grandfather by an act of Congress. We still have the original document. It is signed by James Madison, President and James Monroe, Secretary of State.
My family lived on the farm and worked the farm all those years, until my grandfather and his two sisters left the farm. Since then, it has continued operating, occupied and farmed by a series of tenant farmers. It became a business in 1993, when my father and his two cousins signed incorporation papers.
Now we are required to hold meetings once a year. My sisters and my cousins, their spouses and children all gather for lunch, then a meeting at a manager's office. This year's meeting is Friday... that's what made me think to write this post. The man who farms it for us will be there, with his wife. He owns his own farm next door, and he has been farming our farm along with his own for a long time (not sure how many years). We talk about cattle and corn, wheat and soybeans. We talk about repairs to the barn and crop yields and the price of corn and beef.
When I was a child I thought the farm was fun. I envied the kids who lived there their way of life. When we began having "farm meetings" I though it was kind of a nuisance. Now it has deeper meaning for me. I think about the history and I wonder about all the family members who lived and worked there. I thank my grandfather for fostering an interest in the farm in me. And sometimes I wonder: was my ancestor Joseph Brown the original "farmer Brown"?