Thursday, May 17, 2012

Plowed Fields

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:

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:  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


  1. We used to visit my aunt and uncle who lived on a farm and the smell of fresh plowed dirt brings back memories of those visits. Love your analogy at the end!

  2. Nothing like old photos and the smell of fresh, rich top soil! :)

  3. Too funny about the fence!
    I live out in the country, and it's mostly the smell of manure that wafts through the air ;-)

  4. What a loving father your dad was!I was born in a city but I love the smells of the country! Funny story with the fence.

  5. I'm sorry you lost your dad at such a young age. It's nice that you have this great picture! I Love old photographs, thank you for sharing yours. :)

    That's a funny story about the fence! Your dad's reaction was great, what a sweet man!

    We live out in the country, I'm quite new to country living... I love the peacefulness of it and need to learn to slow my 'city pace' down to the country pace! Not quite sure that will happen though. lol!

  6. It is funny how smells really do trigger memory. My grandparents owned a farm and it is such a happy smell for me!

  7. Aww I am sorry you lost your dad, especially so young. How nice you have that memory of taking out the fence and making him laugh!

  8. That's a great story of you and your dad :) I'm glad you have these great memories of him!
    I grew up in town, but live in a rural area, so farming is everywhere around here. Now that I live in the country (same town), it's fun to see the neighbors preparing their land. The baby calves are my favorites in the Spring :)