When I was a farm girl, back in the day, I always looked forward to Spring. The smell of new grass, baby animals, flowers in bloom, AND—the smell of plowed dirt. DIRT?? Yup. Rich dark South Dakota loam soil. Love that smell!
Manure? Not so much.
Once I was old enough to reach the tractor pedals and responsible enough to drive a small Ford tractor, I was allowed to help with Spring plowing. My dad took the lead on a big tractor, running the plow (think spade in gardener terms). My brother followed Dad on a medium-sized tractor using a disk to brake up the clods of dirt left by the plow (think hoe in gardener terms). And I brought up the rear on the little Ford tractor pulling a drag, to further break up the little clods left after disking (think rake in gardener terms). We were a happy little parade, driving around the field until the soil was all ready for corn planting or soybean planting. Mine was the dustiest spot – but I also had the best view of the beautiful Franklin gulls who flocked to pluck worms from the freshly-turned soil: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Franklins_Gull.
One year, as we were parading around the field I misjudged a turn and starting “dragging” out old wooden fence posts – plink, plink, plink, plink. When I finally looked back and realized (to my horror) what I had done, the fence wire was tangled into the drag teeth. When my kind, patient and longsuffering dad came over to inspect the damage, he doubled over with tears running down his ruddy cheeks. I thought to myself, “Oh, no. I’ve really pushed him over the edge this time!” Then I realized he was laughing hysterically – and he was not angry. He explained that the Farmington Township board had just informed him they would be tearing down that fence to widen the road within a week or two. “Punky," he said, "looks like you saved them some work! Now let’s untangle this mess.”
Dad died when I was 14. He literally dropped dead of a heart attack. It was one of those devastating losses from which you can never fully recover. Here is one of my favorite photos of Dad with his older brother Llewellyn with their pet goat, Goatee, probably taken around 1927.
Thanks to my cousin Lise for digitalizing so many of these old family photos and sharing them with our generation.
Lise (LLPyles) recently opened a vintage shop on Etsy, Dusty Digger Lise, specializing in vintage paper items:http://www.etsy.com/shop/DustyDiggerLise. Her shop banner has a photo of our great aunt, a milliner, in her hat shop in the 1930s.
I miss my Dad, and I miss the farm. But I still love the smell of plowed dirt. When we saw plowed fields on the recent trip to Seward, NE, it reminded me of my days back on the farm, and it set me to thinking…
Much of life is preparation -- plowing, disking, dragging, planting, weeding or cultivating (pronounced CULL uh vay ding in the Dakotas). But that prep work and the seeds we plant along the way, God willing, produce a crop. And then comes the harvest!
Wishing you all a good growing season and a bountiful harvest.
LeAnn aka pasqueflower