The men who make history,
have no time to write it.
Prince Klemens von Metternich
The house atop the hill was a beautiful shade of old red brick. In the field, beside, was an old abandoned, and weathered wooden grey house. Those were the first things I noticed, as we pulled into the field of recently cut second cut hay, to park the truck. Another auction, where a family had farmed for generations making history, was what I was thinking.
Since I was knitting, My Hero had jumped out of the truck and headed up the hill, towards the beautiful red brick house and into a field full of good looking and obviously well cared for machinery. I had to finish up the row on a baby hat for a granddaughter who would be growing up and living life in the city, once she arrived. These types of auctions have always had me wondering about the future of our own farm and now with another generation on the way, I think about it a bit more.
With the row knitted I stuffed the hat into my bag, pulled on a toque and coat and headed off. It was a beautiful brisk October morning. I found it hard to believe that even with the sun shining so brightly, there was not any warmth to be found. The north winds blew the leaves off the surrounding trees, reminding me that summer was indeed gone.
I walked into the field of machinery, smiling as I listened to the hum of motors running. The tractors and a big old welder all running smoothly, I knew then that this family had taken pride in their farm and machinery, treating it with respect. The machinery had worked hard for them, and they for it.
My thoughts retreated, as I turned around to see what was making all the noise of banging and rumbling behind me. A huge dual-wheeled John Deere tractor, being driven by a young man and pulling a loaded harvest wagon, was carefully trying to maneuver through the line of cars and trucks of the auction-goers parked on the side of the road. It is, after all, the soybean harvest season, and this would be farm country. I headed up to the top of the hill, towards the crowd of people and the tables lined with stories and memories.
That was when I noticed an older man sitting in a chair on the side porch. I smiled, he smiled. I could tell that this man and the woman standing beside him had a special connection to this farm by the looks on their faces. I said “Hello”. We chatted about the weather and agreed that it was a great day for an auction sale. They shared that it was their father who had passed, and I told them how sorry I was for their loss. While looking at an old beveled glass picture frame, surrounded by other old frames, I pointed at the portrait of a man and woman dressed in clothes from possibly, the early nineteen hundreds. I asked the woman, “Was this someone from your family?” She answered “Yes, but we cannot remember who”, she laughed. Thinking to myself I wondered if this could be the young couple that had originally settled this farm. Could they have lived in that tiny old abandoned house, long ago?
“This is a beautiful farm”, I said. The man and woman both smiled and said, “Yes it has been a nice place to live and farm”. They then shared some thoughts and worries. Things like, what will become of the farm, and wonder if it would even remain a farm. Wondering if young people even liked to farm these days? Would their father and his hard work be forgotten? I told them I believed that their father and their own family’s hard work could never be forgotten. I also shared with them that I knew many young farmers who would love to have a place like this to call their own.
I shared a little story with them, about my husband and I being a young couple buying a farm and making it work long ago. Even though we were not the original settlers we certainly did work hard to get it to where it was today. I shared with them that I still enjoyed listening to the stories, shared by our neighbours about who the original family was, what they were like and how hard they had always worked.
I truly believe that farmers are never forgotten once they had been in a place long enough. I believe that they undoubtedly “Leave their mark”. Even if that farm family are not able to pass it on to their own family generations, for whatever reason, it was still not going to be forgotten.
I shared the story about my tracking down the farmer who farmed our place after we had finally settled in. He had been very excited when I told him we were going to continue to farm it, and he was more than willing to share some tips and some stories. Oh, I cherish these stories.
I then shook their hands and wished them well, knowing this family had indeed “Left their mark”.
A little girl bolted out of the side door and onto the porch, laughing. I thought about that baby hat sitting in the truck. I could not wait to share our farm and its stories with her. I have to believe that we will also “Leave our mark”.