April 2nd…“AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?”
The magic may have been in the fecundity of the black onyx soils of Minnesota farmland versus the rocky peaks of our ancestral Norway. Whatever magnetism it was, farming was in the blood of our father, grandfather and likely even our great grandfather that immigrated to this new land of America in the 1800’s.
Therefore, as a child, I TOO wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps as far as going into agriculture when I came of age.
One of my earliest recollections of baby life on our farm was when Mom would carry me down to the barn and let me down to the floor while she helped our father with the milking. From my concrete level viewpoint, I could see Mom and Dad in the Milking Parlor working on emptying milk from the Surge Milker machines into milk cans and then cleaning equipment. As my minuscule members wiggled at straw level, I would look down the long manger aisle in front of where our herd of Holstein dairy cows were eating their meal. That aisle, in the center of our barn, seemed to be a mile long to this tiny tiker while I saw life from that very low perspective. I’m guessing I must’ve been a year old or less, because I hadn’t yet mastered the art of walking upright. Being the mini midget that I was, I really didn’t know what a cow was, except for the fact that these beasts nearby loomed ginormously in front of me and seemed to tower to the very rafters of that barn as they munched contentedly on their evening meal of tasty alfalfa.
As any impressionable little son looks to his father for emulation, I wanted to look like, act like and BE like a farmer in every way that I could. I was always imitating Dad in every way imaginable…..even down to trying to blow my nose with one finger tight up against one nostril. THAT was a messy life experience that usually brought howls of laughter from Dad as my nose “stuffings” dribbled off of cheek or chin and didn’t fly clear of my face with enough blow power.
I was surely one step closer to being a farmer when I received my very first pair of bib overalls!!!! Now I even dressed “just like Dad”! I busted with pride for looking like my patriarchal hero! There were pockets galore in those bibs and I filled each one with things like Dad would carry, such as tools, pencils, little notebook, etc..
I LOVED to watch our father working the fields with our various Farmall tractors and equipment! When my parents deemed that I was old enough, it was an extra special treat to be able to actually ride with our Dad on the tractor while he worked our fields! Dad would pull back the throttle on that Super M Farmall and I’d watch the black exhaust spurt to the sky from the muffler as that powerful engine pulled plow, disc or corn planter up and down our acreage. When our corn crop was in need of cultivating (getting the weeds out), our father allowed me to watch him hook up the four row cultivator to the tractor. Standing alongside Dad, on the tractor, I watched those beveled hoe blades slice just below the soil’s surface as weeds were plowed under and the rows were left clean, aerated and dressed up as we rolled along.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 Verse 1 says, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the Heaven.” Alas, in 1967, our parents had to make a decision regarding farming. Continue, in hopes that I would want to take over after high school? Or, sell the farm and start a new life in Washington State. Dad, in his wisdom, just couldn’t take the gamble of waiting around to see what direction I might go in adulthood. If I had chosen a different career, and NOT farming, then he and Mom would’ve been burdened with farming on their own into their senior years. Following his best logic, a decision was made to sell the farm and a sale auction was held on July 22nd, 1967. Neighbors from miles around came to see us that day and bought up everything from dishes, to screwdrivers, to tractors, to cows.
There’s an old saying, “You can take the boy outta the farm, but you’ll never take the farm outta the boy!” That is so true! To this very day, I get a happiness out of seeing a tractor working in a field as I drive down the highway. There’s also a pleasure to my nostrils as I roll down car windows and imbibe the pungent aroma of a working dairy farm as I pass by. All these happy “triggers” bring back joyful memories of childhood and the way of life I treasured as a little farm boy. Overall, it was providential, and part of God’s divine wisdom, that we DID make the move to a new life in Washington State. Besides, I’m no business-minded man and a bit of a brown thumb when it comes to growing things, so likely I may have failed as a farmer anyway. Another fine factor in the move to a new life is the fact that, had we stayed in Minnesota, I never would have enjoyed the blessings of our five wonderful children that were gifted to us with love from God. I praise the Lord for my cherished years as a country boy……..The Norwegian Farmer’s Son.