Yesterday was my father’s birthday. He celebrated with family and friends. Yesterday, however, was also another milestone for he and my mother, in fact, for our whole family. It was fifty years ago that they moved on to the farm where they live, worked, and raised their family.
Not many can claim to live in the same place for so long. While it is more common in the agricultural community than in more urban areas for folks to live in the same place for a long time, sometimes from birth to death, it is becoming much less common. We reminisced together as I visited wish him well on his birthday, about all of the folks in their circles who have left the farm over the years, how agriculture has changed, how all the one hundred acre farms are gone, how there are just plainly fewer people in the country.
I was there when they moved to that farm. They had three kids then, two more were born after the move. I am the oldest. I turned four a month after we arrived and still have some vague memories of moving. There are many more memories of the years growing up there. Most of the memories are good ones, family working together toward a goal (or a number of them), building things together, struggling together against the elements to get crops in the ground and into the barn. Growing up there, I didn’t realize how isolating the farm was with its constant demands, it’s never ending litany of morning and evening chores. Many of my peers lived the same way. It was just how it was.
As I left home for university and on to the rest of life, the farm served as something of a bastion, a solid thing which was relatively unchanging in a rapidly changing world, a way to keep in touch with the past, to stay grounded.
There was change of course. We milked cows all of the years I was on the farm. J and I bought the cows and quota back in 1989 and moved them to our farm. Mom and Dad carried on with a number of other enterprises and in recent years have rented out the land and buildings and have been enjoying their vacations and their volunteer commitments.
In two weeks the legacy will end. The farm will be sold by auction and they will make their first move in over fifty years to a cute bungalow in a nearby town. It will be a good move for them, closer to other people and services, but it will be difficult for them and for the rest of the family who have so many memories tied up in what we knew as home.