Growing Up in the Midwest

The Sadness and Joy of Progress in Farming

“Those who do not move do not notice their chains.” Rosa Luxemburg

“According to a United States Department of Agriculture report, “the number of U.S. farms fell sharply after peaking at 6.8 million in 1935…By 2002, about 2.1 million farms remained.” Our farm was consolidated into a larger farm shortly after I entered college. And my father accepted public work at J. I. Case Company in Burlington as a radial drill operator. He loved his work both on the farm and in the public sector.

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Current Google Map of My Childhood Farm

As I think about the shifts in farming over the last fifty years I am saddened by the depressing results of a progress of farming patterns that demanded a change in housing, machinery, and acres needed to make a living. The show place my parents created with paint, mown grass, a variety of perennial flowers, oaks, elms and birch trees, and fences now rests as rubble. The soil remains basically the same but everything else has changed. The former house, barns, trees, and fences of my childhood and adolescence became multiple piles of rocks, rotting wood, sagging fences, and a few remaining foundations. I am so thankful I didn’t hang around assuming everything would remain the same. Time and circumstance have swallowed much of what was—the normal result of the inevitable passing of time. The former buildings are like the walls of the Biblical Jericho. It is as if someone marched around my former little world, shouted loudly, blew a trumpet, and many buildings and trees came tumbling down. This house, this home served our family amazingly well. But like everything temporal, it has a life and is replaced by another present destined for its own lifetime.


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