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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Stories Along the Back Roads & Dead Ends

We recently celebrated our two year wedding anniversary.

A lot has happened in two years and a lot will happen in the next two years.
Sometimes I can't get over how time flies when you are living life and creating your story.

For our anniversary we stayed in Story, Indiana at the Story Inn.
There's not much in Story, and honestly I think it really only has 2 residents--the owners of the inn.

I had been there a few times for their annual wine festival, for drinks with my once boyfriend now husband and for brunch after delivering a bull in Freetown, Indiana which isn't far from Story.

However, after staying there a few nights and spending days on the front porch of our rented house, there is a lot in Story.  There are lots of stories--ones created from the first settlers back in the early 1800s to the once thriving community that later never recovered from the Great Depression.

Today, Story seems like a paradise at a dead end along the back roads of Indiana.
Hoosiers that know the area, and other guests that have visited Story, understand that dead ends are sometimes the best places to continue your journey and your story.  Bikers, horseback riders, lovers of Indiana history, out-for-a-Sunday drive folks and those that enjoy a quiet, dead end know that Story is the place to visit.

My husband and I had finished our brunch and were wandering around the garden when he turns to me and says, "Let's go on a drive."  My immediate response was, "No, I drive all the time.  I'm sick of the road."

"No" he says, "I want to show you something."  
And that he did.

We hopped in the truck and down the gravel roads to "The Town That Was", Elkinsville, Indiana.  
I wanted to read the sign from the truck but he said, "Get out.  Just believe me."
He knows me pretty well, except that he didn't bring tissues so he must still be learning.

These families had to leave their little town so the federal government could build a reservoir 
for other families and other towns.  

I bawled.  I couldn't handle it.  
Tears were dripping down my face and he was laughing because he knew that I would love to see this and honor these people at this dead end.

I loved this memorial for the people that had to move so other families could have water and now enjoy what many of us in the area know as Lake Monroe.  But what's worse is that they actually didn't really have to move.  Someone miscalculated the elevation levels and the little town didn't need to be evacuated after all!

What I realized on this trip down another dead end road is that we are all a part of each other's story.
These people had to leave their town and so did so many others so that the reservoir could be built.  As a kid and a teenager, I went boating and swimming there and didn't even think about the families that had to leave their homes.  Even though without their stories, those memories wouldn't be a part of my story.

We headed down the road and came upon this house.  
I was staring at this once beautiful home with this fence and the open gate when I heard, "Those flowers are annuals.  Someone had to come and plant those and probably does every year." 
Again, I lost it, realizing that someone was trying to continue 
to honor the story of the residents that once lived here.

We turned down another road, and yet another dead end. 
An abandoned bridge that once connected one town to another and neighbors to neighbors.

There were stories on one side and on the other.  
And I wondered how many stories were created on that bridge too.

When I was in D.C. last week, I sat in a meeting room of the National Museum of American History discussing the new exhibit American Enterprise.  My fellow farmers and agriculture advocates were meeting with the exhibit curator about incorporating agriculture into the exhibit today and what it may look like in the next 20 years (the length of the exhibit).  I realized that my conversations were going to influence him to tell our story, the farmer and agriculture story, for generations to come just like those featured in the exhibit have influenced my life, my story.

I was also advocating for agriculture and our farm businesses and way of life while I was in D.C.
Two days later, I was at county 4-H livestock auction realizing my story, my advocating, was going to affect the kids in the arena and the way they live out their stories.

As I reflect on the past two years and appreciate all those memories and stories, I always try to remember where it all started.  It was the day when we signed on the line and committed to a lifetime of stories together while my grandma looked on, her story leading to mine and mine to the next.

And I have always known that each one of us is connected to each other through some story.
Sometimes we just need a reminder so we remember to not forget "The Town That Was" and the lives that were.

So here we are, starting our adventures down the back roads of the next two years of our story together.  While he drives us, I'll write it all down.  And I think he has learned to bring plenty of tissues along, especially to the dead ends with all the great stories. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Farmer's Wife's Worries

In high school, a friend of mine used to say, 
"Katie, worrying is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere."

Well, he was right.  I used to worry all the time and it never got me anywhere.
And I'll admit, I still worry a lot now (thanks to that gene from my mother).
I think it's a natural instinct for women to worry especially for the the women who husbands have one of the most dangerous jobs in our country--working in agriculture. 

The timing of this blog couldn't have been more perfect because yesterday I worried that my husband got into an accident.  He hadn't responded to my text for a few hours and didn't answer my call.  I kept thinking of the rocking chair and just told myself to "get home".  As soon as I thought of something else, he called.  
(This happens every time I worry....)

I worry a little when he checks the cows because you never really know what kind of mood they may be in.  And tonight, he got a call, "the cows are out!"  He dropped his book and ran to check them, leaving me slightly worried. 

I worry about him when he has to check cows and fix their frozen water in below zero temperatures.  And then I worry that he's losing his mind when he comes home from being outside all day and says, "let's make snow!'  

I worry about the test plots they he and his brother plant and that the results will be everything they had hoped for.

I worry when I come home to muck boots and clothes on my back porch and think, 
"what really went down in that pasture today and who won?" 

I worry that the equipment will work when it's supposed to during planting and harvest. 

And when I visit the field I usually worry that they haven't worn sunscreen all day and 
that they don't have anything to drink.  

I worry about if they have eaten enough during the busy times and then scramble to make them meals, then worry if it was enough and if they liked it.

This spring and summer I worried so much about the rain that would never end, that I couldn't sleep at night.
Some nights I went to bed while it was raining and woke up to the same rain pouring down from the sky.  But as I laid in bed, there really was nothing I could do but think about it.  The worry wasn't getting me anywhere.

But mainly I worry that my farmer will get in and out of his tractor safely.  
That he will tend to his land and animals and they will return the favor and care for him too.

I really try not to, but I worry too much (obviously).

My farmer, on the other hand, worries little and assures me everything will be okay in the end--it usually always is.

The best thing about him, is that I really don't need to worry about him 
especially when he still wants to sit in the rocking chairs with me after all that worry.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer Vacation Lesson from the Farmer

 Summer is here which means family vacations for some of us and 4H projects for others.  If you were blessed to take a summer vacation and have 4-H projects, consider yourself lucky.  Free time on the farm doesn’t come around for some of our farmers or their families which means no vacation time.  However, staying home and learning about the various lessons from your 4-H projects can be an adventure as well.       

As a kid, we camped a lot with our friends around the state but didn’t take too many long summer vacations.  My mom would take us on our fancy trip to Chicago, “the big city”, to shop while the farmer stayed home for the harvest.  I am sure he was just fine staying home and away from the city and our shopping shenanigans, so it all worked out. 

The one time he went with us on a Spring Break trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, I never really wanted to vacation with him again.  I was in the 5th grade and we were going with a big group of people to experience new adventures and to relax on the beach.  However, if you know farmers, they can’t really sit still. 

I was elated to stay in a condo with a view of the beach and surrounded by the noise of the big, blue waves.  However, the farmer had something else in mind for us on vacation.  We had to see the army bases and battleships.  It was not an experience this Midwestern farm girl that lived between the cows was expecting to have on her “vacation” to the beach. 

We even had to cut our trip short and head back to Indiana because my farmer dad noticed the corn sprouting from the fields in Alabama.  He got antsy, couldn’t sit still and had to get home to start planting.  I think I even started my 4-H projects earlier that year too. 

As time has gone on and I have traveled around the world, I think about that summer vacation and the time we spent learning about the history of our country and those that served on the battlefield.  I now understand that dad took us on adventures through the battleships to teach us something and why we were able to enjoy our vacations.  He taught us that it’s okay to sit on the beach and relax for a short time, but vacations should include life lessons just like those 4-H projects left behind to finish.  Even though I was mad we came home early, I think I earned more blue ribbons that year—lesson learned.

So take that summer vacation to sit still and relax for a moment!  But remember to learn a lesson or two while you are away from the farm or your home.  Enjoy that freedom to travel and be adventurous and give thanks for the lessons they teach you, maybe you’ll get a blue ribbon too.