On June 10 our family celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the Firestien Family Farm near Greeley, Colorado. My sister Judy organized a celebration that brought over 200 people to our farm to pet the animals in a petting zoo, ride ponies, look at antique tractors, watch a blacksmith forge iron and, if you weighed less than 50 pounds, ride in a barrel train.
I spent the first 22 years of my life on this land. It was the place where I learned to drive tractors and trucks, irrigate corn and spread manure for fertilizer.
My Dad, Chuck, and I made go carts out of worn-out wagons, tree houses out of wood scraps and rafts out of old oil drums. It was also the place where I learned how to take and develop my own pictures, experimented with making all sorts of smells that stunk up our house with my chemistry set and where my deafening rock band practiced every week.
I learned about creativity on that farm. My father could fix any kind of farm equipment with wire and duct tape and my Mom, Ruth, who was our church organist for over thirty-five years could sew anything.
I was going to write a piece about this event, but my 86-year old Mom beat me to it. On the day of the celebration she presented Judy and me with something that she had written and told us to hang it up on the buildings so people could understand what it is like to be a farmer. So, my guest blogger this month is my mother, Ruth Firestien.
I am the farm. I am dirt and rocks and weeds.
I can feed many people with the food I produce—corn, potatoes, wheat and much more. I can also feed many animals that the farmer raises – cattle, sheep, hogs for meat, chickens for eggs, and for fried chicken and cows for milk and butter. These things don’t come from the back room at the grocery store. They come from the hard work of the farmer.
The farm is taken care of by the farmer. He prepares the ground, then plants the seeds and waits for the seeds to grow. He irrigates the crops and expects to get a good crop from the excellent care he has given.
The farmer now looks at his crop and says, “It looks good.”
But wait, here comes a hail storm and knocks the plants into the ground or a wind storm that blows the stalks of corn over when it is just ready to be harvested.
Somebody says, “You have insurance, don’t you?”
They think that the insurance will pay for the ruined crop. Yes, there is insurance but it doesn’t cover everything. So, the farmer looks at his resources. He may owe the bank money, or the seed company is waiting for their payment. The farmer also needs money to live.
People see all the big equipment the farmer has and says, “Look at that rich farmer.”
These people have no idea of how much that equipment costs, and the fact that the bank still owns most of it. Without that equipment, the farmer couldn’t grow a crop to help feed all of us.
Should he keep farming or should he sell out and try to get an eight to five job?
“Not this year. I’ll try again,” he says.
As my husband Chuck used to say, “A farmer is the biggest gambler in the world. “
Thank you, Mom. This piece is dedicated to all of those farmers who courageously work every day to feed all of us.
If you want to find out more about the Historic Von Trotha-Firestien Farm at Bracewell, Colorado please follow this link: http://www.bracewellfarm.com/
If you want to read more about the celebration check out this link from the Greeley Tribune.
Farm photos by Gracie at Gracefully Etched Photography
Finally, and I usually don’t ask for business on this blog, I am very interested in applying my work in Creative Problem Solving to the agriculture industry. Please spread the word.
Before you go, answer this for me in the comments below: