Sitting on roughly 250 acres, back home where I come from, is what I like to call the farm. The farm is where my dad and his five brothers grew up. The farm is where me and my cousins did a lot of growing up. The farm was where all our family gatherings were. The farm was happiness; the farm was fun. For more reasons than one, the farm has only meant good memories. And to my little child's brain the farm was like heaven.
I don't know exactly when it was started, or exactly who started it, but I do know it has been around for at least four generations. It's what they call a centennial farm--meaning the same family has owned it for over 100 years. It's a piece of history, and it belongs to my family.
Back in it's glory years it was an honest-to-God, functioning farm. By this I mean it had animals, and it raised cash crops. I can only imagine what it looked like then. I'm told that my great grandpa had a hired hand that maintained the place. Sadly, this is was contributed to its downfall. Because the hired hand did everything to take care of the place, my grandpa and his brother were never really taught to take care of it--so they didn't. For a while after my grandpa inherited it I'm sure it looked like it should have looked. But I don't know how long that lasted.
As long as I can remember, the farm has looked like it does now--a junkyard. Over the years my two uncles that still live in the area have brought old machines, cars, buses, trucks, tractors, and all other manner of crap onto the place and left it there. Take five steps in any direction and you'll probably run into an old engine or some other piece of machinery. It tears me up to see what has happened to the farm.
About a month ago my sister and I drove up there for the weekend to see old friends, and to visit with family. For most of the drive I took the back roads through the rural parts of Missouri (where I live now). The only feeling I remember having during the trip was that I was going home. And as we drove, we were constantly passing these farms. And there were so many nice ones--grass mowed, buildings painted, no junk. They were beautiful, and then I thought of what my family's farm looks like. It's a disgrace, plain and simple. But I can't help but dream about what it used to look like, and about what it could look like.
After my dad and uncles grew up, several of them moved away. But my dad and his two younger brothers stayed. My mom tells me my dad did most of the farming after that. He never planned on leaving. He loved it there, and all he wanted to do was farm that farm. But those weren't God's plans for him. He died from cancer in November of 1997, two months after my grandpa also died from cancer. That was a hard year for the family. Nothing was ever the same after that. Whereas before the farm had at least some sort of future, whatever that future was died with my father. Two of my uncles still live right next to the farm, but only one really does the farming, and neither one of them have kids.